Last updated: 9 August, 2012

Syrian activist’s transfer to military court condemned

Reporters Without Borders on Thursday condemned a decision by Syrian authorities to try a prominent media rights activist in a special military court.

“The courts are no longer taking the trouble to maintain even a facade of legality,” RSF said in a statement on the case of Mazen Darwish, head of the Syrian Centre for Media and Freedom of Expression, and four other defendants.

It said the five were being held incommunicado, almost six months after their arrest during a raid in central Damascus.

Darwish is being held by Syria’s feared airforce intelligence service, which refused to comply with a judge’s request to produce him in court on August 6, according to RSF.

“Darwish, of whom there has been no news since his arrest, will therefore be tried by a special military court that holds its hearings behind closed doors at military police headquarters” in the Qaboon district of Damascus, it said.

“It does not allow defendants to be represented by a lawyer, its proceedings are completely secret and its sentences are carried out immediately,” the Paris-based watchdog said.

Human rights groups have regularly expressed concern over alleged abuses against activists and artists in Syria since the outbreak of an anti-regime revolt in March 2011.

As the conflict escalates, media workers and artists on both sides have been targeted.