[JURIST] Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] has called on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad [BBC profile] to release hundreds of political opponents [HRW press release] and reporters who have been arrested in recent months as part of a government crackdown on opposing opinions. The US-based human rights group put their request in a letter [text] released Tuesday, which was sent to Assad saying the Syrian government is stifling freedom of expression and association by its people. HRW said these actions put the Syrian government in violation of its own constitution and other mandates under international law.
International rights groups claim that over 1,500 opposition activists, students and journalists are currently in jail, but Assad has declined to address requests for their release. Amnesty International [advocacy group] released a statement [text] last week saying that the rare detainee who does get to trial faces a court system which promotes a "gross lack of independence and impartiality." Reuters has more.