Rosenthal delighted at release of Syrian human rights defender

Minister of Foreign Affairs Uri Rosenthal is delighted at the release of Syrian human rights defender Haitham Maleh. Mr Maleh was awarded the Geuzen medal in 2006.

In June 2010, Mr Maleh was jailed for three years for criticising the continuation of the state of emergency, which has been in force since 1963. Now eighty years old, Mr Maleh is in delicate health, and was being held in deplorable conditions. The Netherlands and the European Union worked hard for his release.

Mr Rosenthal called on the Syrian government to release all prisoners jailed for exercising their right to freedom of expression.

Though Syria is party to the major international human rights agreements, the human rights situation there is alarming. In the past few years, the Syrian government has clamped down on critics of the regime and human rights defenders who question the continued enforcement of the state of emergency and strive for democracy.