Syria security court resumption  troubling: HRW

Syria security court resumption troubling: HRW

[JURIST] Humans Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] Friday criticized [text] the resumption of activities by Syria's Supreme State Security Court (SSSC), and called for its dissolution. HRW called the court's activities a violation of the right to a fair trial in part because it does not follow procedural rules of Syria's criminal courts and does not allow defendants to appeal its verdicts. Sarah Leah Whitson [official profile], director of the Middle East and North Africa division of HRW, expressed dismay over the reopening of the court:

The resumption of business in this kangaroo court is a distressing signal that Syrian authorities have no interest in addressing their flawed justice system…Instead of revealing the fate of those detained in Sednaya and referring the accused to courts that can actually dispense justice, they decided to resume sentencing defendants in a court that rubber-stamps whatever the security services want.

According to the report, the SSSC had been disbanded in July following a riot at the Sednaya prison, where many detainees were awaiting hearings in the court. Syrian officials have not confirmed [AP report] whether the court has actually reopened.

HRW has often accused Syria of using the SSSC in forwarding its political goals. In February, HRW issued a report [report materials] detailing how Syria used the SSSC to silence critics and criminalize freedom of expression. In 2004, HRW called on Syria to try suspects in civilian courts rather than in the security courts [HRW report]. HRW has also accused Syria of "systematic discrimination" against Kurds, including the arbitrary denial of citizenship to Syria-born Kurds [HRW report].