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Resolution adopted unanimously by the Governing Council
at its 174rd session (Mexico, 23 April 2004)

The Governing Council of the Inter-Parliamentary Union,

Referring to the outline of the case of Mr. Riad Seef, a former member of the People’s Council of the Syrian Arab Republic, as contained in the report of the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians (CL/174/12(b)-R.1), and to the resolution adopted at its 173rd session (October 2003),

Taking account of the information provided by the Syrian delegation at the hearing held on the occasion of the 110th Assembly (April 2004),

Recalling that Mr. Riad Seef was arrested on 6 September 2001 and charged with “defaming the Constitution, unlawful activities and hostility towards the regime” for having organised meetings at which political questions were discussed and for his attempts to set up a political party; on 4 April 2002, the Criminal Court of Damascus found him guilty of attempting to change the Constitution by unlawful means, setting up a clandestine organisation and organising unauthorised meetings; on 24 June 2002, the judgment was upheld on appeal and Mr. Seef is now serving his sentence; according to observers from the European Union, the trial fell short of fair trial standards; Mr. Seef had in particular been prevented from properly presenting his defence,

Recalling that, given its concerns that Mr. Riad Seef may have been prosecuted on account of acts that constitute peaceful and legitimate exercise of his right to freedom of expression and of assembly, it called on the Head of the State to grant him an amnesty and invited the Syrian Parliament to relay its plea favourably to him,

Noting that, on the occasion of his attending the 11th Conference of the Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union in Damascus on 1 and 2 March 2004, the Secretary General was granted a meeting with the Head of the State and took the opportunity to relay to him the IPU Governing Council's plea for an amnesty in favour of Mr. Riad Seef,

Considering that, according to the Syrian delegation, in October 2003, Parliament requested the President of the Republic to pardon Mr. Riad Seef; an ad hoc commission has been set up to study his case together with that of Mr. AlHomsi, and both may be released shortly,

  1. Thanks the Syrian delegation for the information provided;

  2. Appreciates that the fact that the Syrian Parliament requested the Head of State to grant Mr. Riad Seef an amnesty, and sincerely hopes that he will indeed be released soon;

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

  4. 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 111th Assembly (September-October 2004), when it hopes to be able to close it on account of its settlement.

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