Eight years since the arrest of Khalil Ma’touq
Today eight years ago, on 2 October 2012, prominent Syrian human rights lawyer Khalil Ma’touq and his colleague Mohamed Zaza were arrested. Since then, nothing has been heard of them and their whereabouts remain unknown.
Ma’touq, director of the Syrian Center for Legal Studies and Research, is a human rights lawyer who has been defending peaceful activists for more than 20 years. He and his colleague and assistant Mohammed Zaza have been missing since October 2, 2012, when they were en route from Ma’touq’s home in Sahanaya, a Damascus suburb, to his office in Damascus. It is believed that they were arrested at a government security checkpoint. The exact reasons for the arrest are unknown, but there is reason to believe their arrest is connected to their legitimate and peaceful work in human rights.
Despite repeated requests by their families and lawyers for information about their fate, their whereabouts are still unknown. The Syrian authorities have denied that they arrested the men. However, individuals released from the government’s custody in 2015 have informed Ma’touq’s family that while in detention they spotted him in various government-operated detention facilities.
In 2015, Khalil Ma’touq ended second on the shortlist of the jury of the L4L Award. Lawyers for Lawyers together with several other organizations called for Khalil Ma’touq’s release in October 2015 and in October 2016.
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