Mr. Speaker, over the last month Syria has sentenced several prominent human rights defenders, intellectuals and political activists to harsh sentences for up to 12 years' imprisonment for basic efforts to promote human rights and democratic freedoms in Syria. These acts contradict fundamental practices of democracy and respect for human rights.
On April 26 the Minister of Foreign Affairs issued a public statement on the human rights and democratic situation in Syria and urged the Syrian government to ensure that its domestic laws and practices are in keeping with its international human rights obligations.
Today the Government of Canada calls on President al-Assad to show clemency and grant general pardons to Anwar al-Bunni, Kamal Labwani, Michel Kilo, Mahmoud 'Issa, Khalil Hussein and Suleiman al-Shummar, and release these and all other political prisoners. In so doing, the government of Syria would encourage democratic freedoms and the development of genuine democratic participation and electoral processes in Syria.