Syria: Human rights defender Jdea Abdullah Nawfal viciously attacked


The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) expresses its deep concern after prominent human rights defender Jdea Abdullah Nawfal, executive director of the Syrian Center for Democracy and Civil Rights, was subjected to a vicious attack. We declare our full solidarity with him in his peaceful and legitimate human rights activities.

Reliable reports received by GCHR confirmed that, at 11:00am on 03 May 2023, Nawfal was brutally attacked in the heart of the city of Al-Suwayda by an unknown person, which resulted in injuries and fractures throughout his body, including a deep wound in his head. He was taken to the hospital for treatment, where he was discharged after several hours. A report of the incident was filed at the city police station. His health is currently stable.

Nawfal, 72 years old, has been working in the field of human rights since 1989. He is one of the co-founders of the Committees for the Defense of Human Rights and Democratic Freedoms in Syria. He was arrested on 17 January 1992 due to his peaceful human rights work. After a show trial in the State Security Court, he was sentenced to five years in prison with hard labour, which he served at Sednaya military prison. He was released on 27 January 1997. 

The Center for Democracy and Civil Rights in Syria, which he founded in November 2012 to work inside Syria, aims to spread and consolidate the culture of human rights.

Nawfal was arrested at the Immigration Office, near the Syrian-Lebanese border, on 01 April 2016 by members of the government security forces when he was on his way to Lebanon to attend a human rights workshop in Beirut. He was denied access to his lawyer and family before he was released on 23 April 2016.

GCHR believes that the brutal attack that targeted Nawfal is only related to his peaceful and legitimate activities in the field of human rights. GCHR sees this as part of a systematic pattern adopted by the Syrian government, which includes targeting activists in civil society and the humanitarian field.

The Gulf Centre for Human Rights urges the Syrian authorities to:

  1. Carry out an independent, comprehensive and prompt investigation to uncover all the facts related to this assault and reveal the parties who planned and executed it, in order to bring them to trial;
  2. Provide all means of protection to prominent human rights defender Jadea Nawfal, to enable him to carry out his peaceful and legitimate work in the field of human rights;
  3. Ensure in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Syria are able to carry out their legitimate activities without fear of reprisals, and free from all restrictions including judicial harassment.