Efficiency within civil society and dialogue forums have dramatically receded under oppressive restrictions imposed by the Government, despite witnessing a revival during the first year of Bashar Asad’s presidency. Indeed, only a few unlicensed forums remain, and towards which the Government turns a blind eye, but which could be closed down at any moment, nevertheless. It is also imperative for these forums to obtain a permit for each and every activity it wishes to hold, with the details of these activities fully disclosed. The Supreme Security State Court had passed sentences late last Summer on the final group of the detainees in the ‘Spring of Damascus ’ case, who were arrested in the Summer of 2001. An unfair 10 year prison sentence was passed on the Economic Consultant Dr. Arif Daleela and two 5 year prison unjust sentences on Dr. Waleed Al-Binni and the Lawyer Habeeb Isa, whilst removing all their civil rights. In the latter part of last year, a special presidential pardon was issued on Riyad Al-Turk (73 years old), the General Secretary of the Syrian Communist Party – Political Bureau, in a move which SHRC believes was the result of intense international pressure. The nine are spending their prison term in Adra prison, north of Damascus . The Supreme State Security Court had also sentenced the following at a later stage of last year: Habeeb Saleh (3 years), Fawwaz Tello (5 years), Kamal Allabwani (5 years) and Hassan Al-Sa’doon (2 years), whilst the Penal Court sentenced the two Members, Mohammed Ma’moon Al-Humsi and Riyad Seif to 5 years each. The verdicts consisted on a number of ambiguous offences including criticising Constitution and encouraging the amendment thereof, fabricating and promoting news which lead to weakening the nation’s resolve and armed disobedience. The Court, which had prevented the defendant’s families and media from attending any of the hearings, failed to prove any of these charges, and prevented their representatives from defending them. In fact the court dismissed the lawyer Anwar Al-Binni from the hearing upon attempting to represent his clients, and subsequently disbarred him from his profession.
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