Languages
Page last updated at 14:59 GMT, Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Syria criticised on human rights

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and US Senator John Kerry
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad met US Senator John Kerry last week

Human Rights Watch has urged Syria to lift its state of emergency and abolish the State Security Court.

A report by the New York-based group describes the court as "one of Syria's main pillars of repression".

HRW also called on the EU and US to make human-rights improvements in Syria a condition for better diplomatic ties.

Syria was described by ex-US President George W Bush as part of the "axis of evil". But there have been recent moves to end its diplomatic isolation.

In July last year Syrian President Bashar al-Assad visited Paris.

Damascus was visited last week by three US delegations.

One was headed by Senator John Kerry, who said there was an opportunity for President Barack Obama's administration "to put in place a different approach".

The release of the HRW report coincides with a visit to Syria by European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana.

The document accuses the State Security Court of staging "sham trials" to punish those seen as a threat to the state.

"It's a kangaroo court providing judicial cover for the persecution of activists, and even ordinary citizens, by Syria's security agencies," said HRW's Sarah Leah Whitson.

The report called on Syria to "decriminalise peaceful political activity".

Print Sponsor


SEE ALSO
Syria urges better ties with US
18 Feb 09 |  Middle East
Syria's own 'war on terror'
12 Dec 08 |  Middle East
Behind the Syria TV 'confessions'
07 Nov 08 |  Middle East
UK urges 'positive' Syrian role
18 Nov 08 |  Middle East
Syria and UK 'share intelligence'
19 Nov 08 |  Middle East
Top 10 foreign challenges for Obama
11 Nov 08 |  US Elections 2008

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

BBC navigation

BBC © 2013 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific