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Imprisoned human rights advocate denied access to medical treatment

(CIHRS/IFEX) - 12 March, 2010 - Geneva - Today Iyas Maleh, the son of the prominent Syrian human rights defender Haitham Maleh, addressed the Human Rights Council. In a joint statement by the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) and four other Arab rights organizations, Mr. Iyas Maleh urged all United Nations human rights experts and member states of the Council to take stronger action to address the increasing attacks on human rights defenders throughout the Arab region.

Haitham Maleh is a prominent 78-year-old Syrian human rights defender who has been imprisoned and subject to inhumane conditions in Syria since October 2009 for speaking out on human rights violations by his government. Maleh has been denied access to medication despite his deteriorating health, "effectively condemning him to a slow death sentence" according to Iyas Maleh.

"This is just one example," Iyas Maleh said. "Countless other human rights defenders throughout the Arab region are imprisoned, tortured, killed, prosecuted, threatened or harassed on a daily basis." According to the CIHRS's annual human rights report, severe repression of human rights defenders has increased in almost all countries within the Arab region over the last several years.

Syria, Egypt and, other Arab countries have continuously denied access to the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, despite repeated requests to conduct fact-finding missions. This has resulted in a lack of information and attention by the UN on the worsening situation of human rights defenders in the Arab region. CIHRS strongly urges Arab states to accept visits by the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders. CIHRS also calls on all Special Rapporteurs, the High Commissioner, and member states of the Human Rights Council to strengthen their commitment to the protection of human rights defenders in the Arab region.

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