IPU Logo-middleInter-Parliamentary Union  
IPU Logo-bottomChemin du Pommier 5, C.P. 330, CH-1218 Le Grand-Saconnex/Geneva, Switzerland  

Resolution adopted by consensus by the Governing Council
at its 177th session (Geneva, 19th October 2005)

The Governing Council of the Inter-Parliamentary Union,

Referring to the case of Mr. Riad Seef, a former member of the People's Council of the Syrian Arab Republic, as outlined in the report of the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians (CL/177/11(a)-R.1), and to the resolution adopted at its 176th session (April 2005),

Taking account of information provided by one of the sources on 23 June and 13 July 2005; also considering that the Secretary General raised this case with the Speaker of the People's Assembly and other members of parliament during his visit to the Syrian Arab Republic in July 2005,

Recalling the following:

  • Mr. Seef was arrested on 6 September 2001, charged with "defamation of the Constitution, unlawful activities and hostility towards the regime" and found guilty on 4 April 2002, when he was sentenced to five years' imprisonment on account of having organized discussion forums; in the light of the information gathered by its on-site mission of May 2002, the Committee concluded that Mr. Seef had been sentenced on account of having exercised his constitutional right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly; it has therefore consistently called on the Head of State and on parliament to grant Mr. Seef an amnesty and so ensure his early release;

  • While the parliamentary authorities initially stated that Mr. Seef would be granted an amnesty and provided information on the steps the parliament had taken to that end, they later affirmed that Mr. Seef had to submit a pardon petition, which he did not wish to do; the sources, however, stated that no such petition was required and that pardons were given on the sole initiative of the President or issued through the People's Council; moreover, the People's Council was empowered to adopt an amnesty law and to oblige the President to promulgate it,
Recalling that Mr. Riad Seef has already served three-quarters of his five-year prison term and that, according to the information provided by the Syrian delegation at the hearing held in September 2004, he should now be eligible for early release; considering nevertheless that, according to one of the sources, his lawyer petitioned the competent court to order Mr. Riad Seef's early release on good conduct, which the court rejected, and noting in this respect that, according to one of the sources, it is the general practice of Syrian courts to release prisoners automatically once they have served three-quarters of their sentence,

Considering that, according to a medical certificate issued by a cardiac surgeon, on 6 July 2005, Mr. Riad Seef urgently requires coronary artery bypass grafting and that the Committee, at its 110th session (July 2005), made an urgent appeal in this respect to the People's Council,

  1. Deeply regrets that the Syrian authorities have not seen fit to provide any information on Mr. Riad Seef's state of health and have given no assurances as to the medical attention he is receiving;

  2. Wishes to ascertain as a matter of urgency whether Mr. Seef has been hospitalised for the surgery he requires, and what his current state of health is;

  3. Recalls that the authorities have a duty to look after the medical needs of the persons in their custody and, if they fail to do so, are responsible for any resulting harm to the persons concerned and their families;

  4. Deplores the fact that Mr. Riad Seef remains in detention although he is eligible for early release; and wishes to ascertain why, contrary to normal practice, such release has not as yet been granted to him, and why his application for release on good conduct was rejected;

  5. Is led to consider, in view of the information on file, that Mr. Seef is specifically targeted and deprived of legal benefits routinely provided to other prisoners; deplores this all the more given its consistent appeals in favour of a pardon and early release for Mr. Seef;

  6. Urges the Parliament to take action at least to ensure that Mr. Seef receives the same treatment as other prisoners and is granted an early release without further delay;

  7. Deeply regrets that the parliamentary authorities have offered no explanation of the inconsistencies pointed out in the resolution it adopted at its 176th session (April 2005), and have not clarified these matters of serious concern;

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

  9. Requests the Committee to continue examining this case and report to it at its next session, to be held during the 114th IPU Assembly (May 2006).

* The delegation of the Syrian Arab Republic took the floor to state that Mr. Riad Seef was in good health, and that it was within the power of the courts to grant him early release, but that the courts had thus far refused to do so.


Note: you can download a complete electronic version of the brochure "Results of the 113th IPU Assembly and related meetings in PDF format (file size 653K approximately ). This version requires Adobe Acrobat Reader, which you can download free of charge.Get Acrobat Reader