Mazen Darwish

Foreign and Commonwealth Office written question – answered on 18th September 2015.

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Photo of Paul Flynn Paul Flynn Labour, Newport West

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent representations the Government has made to the government of Syria on the detention of Mazen Darwish by the Syrian air force intelligence unit.

Photo of Tobias Ellwood Tobias Ellwood The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

Our Embassy in Damascus closed in 2012 and except for specific consular cases the UK does not have routine official contact with the Syrian government. However, the UK has consistently called in public for the release of human rights defenders detained by the Assad regime.

On 10 August the UK Special Representative for Syria, Gareth Bayley, welcomed the release of Mazen Darwish from prison. However, security forces arbitrarily arrest or continue to detain thousands which include peaceful activists, human rights defenders, media and humanitarian workers, women and children, subjecting some to enforced disappearance and others to prolonged detention or unfair trials. In addition the security forces systematically torture and mistreat detainees with impunity; thousands of detainees reportedly die due to torture or harsh conditions.

The UK, along with international partners, remains committed to ensuring the perpetrators are held to account. We are working with a range of non-governmental organisation’s to ensure that evidence of torture and mistreatment is effectively collected to accurately record crimes that are being committed so that perpetrators can be prosecuted in the future.

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