Hivos International

Call for the immediate release of disappeared human rights lawyer Khalil Ma’touq

Khalil Matouq

Over one and a half years after the disappearance of renowned Syrian human rights lawyer Khalil Ma’touq, the undersigned organizations are reiterating their call on the Syrian authorities to release him immediately and unconditionally.

Khalil Ma’touq, the director of the Syrian Centre for Legal Studies and Research, disappeared on 2 October 2012, along with his colleague Mohammed Thatha, as they were on their way to work in the capital Damascus. It is believed they were detained at a government security checkpoint.

A number of unofficial tip-offs have indicated that Khalil Ma’touq has been held in different detention centres in Damascus, but his and Mohammed Thatha’s fate and whereabouts remain unknown. Despite repeated requests from family and lawyers, the Syrian authorities continue to deny they are in custody, placing them at particular risk of torture or other ill-treatment and extrajudicial execution.

Enforced disappearances are crimes under international law and their use in Syria has been strongly condemned by the UN Security Council, which in their resolution of February 2014 also demanded “the immediate end of these practices and the release of all arbitrarily detained persons.”

The fact that there is no information regarding the current situation of Khalil Ma’touq is a cause of immense concern to his family and to the undersigned organizations, in particular as unofficial information has indicated he is in extremely poor health. He suffers from advanced lung disease and has severe breathing difficulties.

Download the entire statement in English and Arabic from the Documents box to the right.