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Resolution adopted unanimously by the Governing Council
at its 173rd session (Geneva, 3 October 2003)

The Governing Council of the Inter-Parliamentary Union,

Having before it the case of Mr. Mamoun Al-Homsi, a former member of the People's Council of the Syrian Arab Republic, which has been the subject of a study and report of the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians in accordance with the "Procedure for the examination and treatment, by the Inter-Parliamentary Union, of communications concerning violations of human rights of parliamentarians",

Taking note of the report of the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians (CL/173/11(b)-R.1), which contains a detailed outline of the case; also taking account of the report on the on-site mission which the Committee carried out from 11 to 14 May 2002 (CL/173/11(b)-R.4),

Taking into consideration the observations provided by the Syrian delegation at the hearing held on the occasion of the 109th Assembly,

Considering the following information on file:

  • On 7 August 2001, Mr. Al-Homsi addressed an open letter to his fellow citizens in which he deplored the fact that the State had ignored the calls he had constantly launched throughout his ten years as a parliamentarian for, inter alia, observance of the Constitution, the lifting of the state of emergency, a strengthening of the judiciary, an end to the activities of the "Central Committee for Inspection and Oversight, which has become a source of terror", pursuit of the fight against corruption, including preventing embezzlement among some officials and cancelling cellular telephone contracts, a halt to the intrusion of the security services in daily life, an increased role for the People's Assembly, and the establishment of a parliamentary committee for the protection of human rights; Mr. Al-Homsi denounced in his letter the doings of the State, which, "instead of seeking solutions to the citizens' problems", put pressure on him, and he notified his decision to begin a hunger strike in his office and to continue it for one week; according to the parliamentary authorities, he proclaimed in that open letter "his opposition to the State and its institutions by means of harsh criticism and propaganda"; they explained that Mr. Al-Homsi had written that letter and decided to go on hunger strike because "he became perturbed" on receiving notice of his income tax reassessment and wanted to exert pressure on the Government;

  • Mr. Al-Homsi was arrested on 9 August 2001 and subsequently charged under Articles 291, 294, 307, 370, 376 and 378 of the Syrian Penal Code with attempting to change the Constitution by unlawful means, preventing the authorities from carrying out their duties, undermining national unity, tarnishing the reputation of the State, impeding the functioning of its institutions and insulting the legislative, executive and judicial branches;

  • Mr. Al-Homsi's trial before the Second Penal Court of Damascus opened on 30 October 2001 and ended on 20 March 2002 with a guilty verdict and his sentencing to five years' imprisonment; one of the three judges, Judge Abas Deeb, delivered a dissenting opinion in which he pointed out that, as an elected MP, Mr. Al-Homsi should enjoy the freedom of speech guaranteed to him under Article 38 of the Constitution and held that the court did not take into account the arguments put forward by the defence team and Mr. Al-Homsi himself; on 24 June 2002 the Appeal Court upheld the judgment, which has thus become final; while the parliamentary authorities affirm that Mr. Al-Homsi enjoyed all fair trial guarantees, the sources and the observers from the European Union regarded the trial as not having matched internationally accepted standards of fair trial;

  • the sources affirm that Mr. Al-Homsi's health has deteriorated in detention as he does not receive the necessary medical treatment for his diabetes; during the night of 22-23 July 2003 he was reportedly taken to hospital after suffering a heart attack; he had reportedly also undergone several hospital treatments for kidney stones,

Considering that, on the basis of the information gathered by the on-site mission, the Committee has called on the authorities to release Mr. Al-Homsi; according to the information provided by the Speaker of the People's Council in September 2002, Parliament was about to consider the question of a special amnesty; however, this was not the case; on the occasion of a meeting with the Committee's President in Santiago, the new Speaker stated that Parliament had no power to adopt an amnesty, but undertook to relay favourably to the President of the Republic the question of an amnesty for Mr. Al-Homsi; at the hearing held in Geneva, the Vice-President of the People's Council stated that the President of the Republic had granted a general amnesty which resulted in a one-third reduction of Mr. Al?Homsi's prison sentence,

  1. Thanks the Syrian authorities, particularly Parliament, for their cooperation, in particular for having received a mission of the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians;

  2. Shares the Committee's concern, as expressed in its mission report, that Mr. Al-Homsi was prosecuted on account of acts that constitute a peaceful and legitimate exercise of his right to freedom of expression guaranteed under Article 38 of the Constitution of Syria and Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Syria is a party; points out that in calling in his open letter for the establishment of a parliamentary human rights committee, Mr. Al-Homsi in fact echoed recommendations made by the Inter-Parliamentary Union;

  3. Stresses that it is the constitutional role of members of Parliament to propose new legislation, including at the constitutional level, and to oversee the action of the executive branch, a role entailing criticism of the government and other State actors;

  4. Calls therefore on the Head of State to grant Mr. Al-Homsi an amnesty and to order his immediate release; calls on the People's Assembly to relay its plea favourably to the Head of the State;

  5. Requests the Secretary General to convey this resolution to the competent authorities and the sources;

  6. Requests the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians to continue examining this case and report to it at its next session to be held on the occasion of the 110th Assembly.

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