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House of Lords written question – answered on 12th May 2011.

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Photo of Lord Patten Lord Patten Conservative

To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Howell of Guildford on 24 January (WA122), whether they have received any further news concerning Ms Hassan; and what is the estimated number of human rights campaigners who have disappeared in Syria.

Photo of Lord Howell of Guildford Lord Howell of Guildford Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) (International Energy Policy)

We have not received any further news from the Syrian authorities concerning Ms Hassan.

No accurate figures exist for the number of political prisoners in Syria, but in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's 2010 human rights Command Paper we state that reports vary from 1,000 to 3,000 held in detention.

We condemn utterly the violence perpetrated by Syrian security forces against civilians who are expressing their views in peaceful protests. As my right honourable friend the Prime Minister said on 1 May 2011, the killing of civilians by the Syrian regime is disgraceful and unacceptable and must stop. We are clear that individuals responsible for the violence will be held accountable if the violence persists.

We are also extremely concerned by reports from human rights organisations that the Syrian authorities have detained more than 7,000 people since protests began in mid-March. The Syrian Government and the security forces must respect the civil rights of peaceful protestors, the right to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly.

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