- Law No. 49 dated 7th July 1980
- Emergency Law issued through Legislative Decree No. 15
- Law related to establishing the State Security Department issued through the Legislative Decree No. (14) dated 15th January 1969
- Revolution Protection Law
- The Arab Republic of Syria’s Constitution issued on 13th March 1973.
One of the most serious violations of human rights and freedoms is for the State to be transformed from a social organization, primarily intended to allocate all its financial and moral resources for protecting the rights, freedoms and interests of the people of that society and for regulating their affairs into an institution which practices terrorism against the people of that society, commits homicides, deprivation of liberty, confiscation of funds, and repression against opponents objecting its views in implementation of the repressive laws it has enacted.
- How can the State, which has been transformed into a terrorist institution, issue repressive laws through which it practices terrorism against national opposition?
Democratic rule is different from that of the totalitarian single-party rule, in the sense that in a democratic rule the people are the source of authority. It is also the people that lay down the constitution, laws, and regulations by means of their freely and impartially elected representatives. Yet, it is up to the people to set up regulations, choose the governor to rule them and dismiss this governor when they feel he is not acting as they wish, because government is an employment contract between the people and the governor to rule according to the law established by the people.
On the other hand, totalitarian or one-man rule is one which took over power through a military coup, usurped people’s right to self-rule, and regarded people as incapable of ruling themselves, and he is, therefore, their guardian. Then that rule cancelled the nation’s Constitution and set up instead of it another Constitution which suits its purposes, and which is devoid of the people’s sovereignty. The ruler appointed himself a leader for both the state and the society against their will, bestowed on himself the right to set himself as candidate for state presidency, and nobody else has the right to be a candidate for state presidency. But it is the duty of the people to say to whoever the party has nominated as candidate: “Yes”. He set up a council which he called “People’s Council” and made legislation shared between this Council and the President of the Republic. In fact, legislation is limited to the President of the Republic, and all that this Council can do is give unanimous approval for whatever draft laws proposed by the President of the Republic. The Council’s debates pay tribute to the illustrious leader president and express approval for these laws. Thus, it has become easier to issue repressive laws whether in the form of legislative decrees or laws submitted by the President of the Republic to the Council as draft laws. The Council endorsed and passed these laws unanimously no matter what crimes against human rights or the homeland or what decrees were issued by the Council of Ministers in order to implement these laws.
Most Important Repressive Laws In Force in Syria:
- Emergency Law issued through Legislative Decree No. (15) dated 22nd Dec. 1962.
- Law for Protecting the Revolution issued through Legislative Decree No. (6) dated 17th Jan. 1965.
- Law for Establishing the State Security Dept. issued through Legislative Decree No. (14) dated 14th Jan. 1969, and the Internal Organizations Law for the State Security Dept. issued through Legislative Decree No. (549) dated 25th May 1969.
- Law for Setting Up Field Martial Courts issued through Legislative Decree No. (109) dated 17th Aug. 1967.
- Law for Setting Up a State Security Court issued through Legislative Decree No. (39) dated 28th March. 1968.
- Syrian Constitution issued on 13th March 1973.
- Low No. (49) dated 7th Aug. 1980.
- Law for Practicing the Legal Profession No. (39) dated 15th Aug. 1981, and the subsequent free professions laws such as Physicians’ Law, and Engineers’ Law.
As the notorious Law (49) is the worst example of these repressive laws prohibiting the freedom of expression and conscience, and which was called the “Shame Law”, it will be the first to begin with:
Repressive Laws in Syria (1): Law No. 49 dated 7th July 1980
Text of Law No. (49) passed by the Syrian People’s Council in the Session on 7th July 1980:
Each and everyone belonging to the Moslem Brethren Group (Jama’a) organization is considered a criminal who will receive a death punishment.
a. Each and every member of this Jama’a will be pardoned from the penalty indicated in this law, if he declared withdrawal from the Jama’a in one month from the date this law goes into effect.
b. A declaration of such withdrawal can be made according to a written statement submitted in person to the governor or to the ambassador with regard to those who were outside the country when this law was issued.
Punishments for crimes committed by a Moslem Brethren Jama’a member within the country prior to the implementation of this law, and in two months for such a member outside the country, will be reduced as follows:
a. If the crime committed is punishable by death or lifelong hard labour or detention, the punishment will be hard labour for a maximum of five years.
b. If the crime committed involves other offences, the punishment will be imprisonment for 1-3 years.
Each and every member of this Jama’a, who reports in person in one month from the date this law takes effect if inside the country and in two months if outside the country, will be relieved of criminal offences punishments committed, before this law went into effect, to achieve the objectives of the Moslem Brethren Jama’a organization.
Reduction of and release from punishment provided by this law will not apply to those in detention or undergoing trial.
This law will be published in the official Gazette and will go into effect on the date it is issued.
People’s Council Speaker
Text of deliberations within the People’s Council on Law No. (49): People’s Council - 9th Regular Session: 20th Session held at 6.20 p.m. on Monday 17th Sha’aban 1400(H) corresponding to 30th June 1980.
People’s Council Agenda:
1. Session opening:
On Monday 17th Sah’aban 1400(H) corresponding to 30th June 1980 at 6.20 p.m., the People’s Council met under the chairmanship of Mr. Mahmud Hadid, in the presence of the two General Secretaries: Mr. Sa’id Suleiman, and Tawfiq Al-Naqri, along with the majority of the members.
The meeting was attended by Mr. Walid Hamdan, Deputy Prime Minister for Services Affairs, Mr. Abdul Qadir Qaddurah/ Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs, together with Ahmad Iskandar/ Information Minister, General Nasiruddin Nasir/ Interior Minister, Doctor/ Engineer: Ahmad ‘Umar Yusif/ Minister of Electricity, Muhammad Najib Al Sayyid Ahmad/ Minister of Education, Abdul Karim Uday/ Minister of the Republic Presidency Affairs, Dr. As’ad Darqawi/ Minister of Higher Education, Muharram Tayyarah/ Minister of Transport, Dr. Salim Yasin/ Minister of State for Planning Affairs.
Article 1: Each and every member of the Moslem Brethren Jama’a Organization is considered a criminal and will receive a death punishment.
a. Each and every member of this Jama’a will be pardoned from punishment indicated in this law or in any other law if the member declares his withdrawal in one month from the date this law goes into effect.
b. Withdrawal must be declared in line with a written statement submitted to the Governorate Police Department or to the Regional Director or to the Ambassador by those outside the country on the date of issuing this law.
Article 3: Punishment for crimes committed by a Moslem Brethren Jama’a member, before this law went into effect to achieve targets of this Jama’a, will be reduced if he hands himself over in one month from the date this law goes into effect, as follows:
a. If the crime committed is punishable by death or lifelong hard labour or detention, punishment will be hard labour for a maximum of five years.
b. If the offence committed involves other crimes, punishment will be imprisonment for a period of 1-3 years.
Article 4: Each and every Jama’a member would be pardoned from the punishment for criminal offences committed in order to achieve the objectives of the Moslem Brethren Jama’a, before this law came into effect, if that member handed himself over in one month from the date this law came into effect.
Article 5: Those who are under detention or undergoing trial will not benefit from remaining in hiding or from amnesty indicated in this law.
Article 6: This law will be published in the Official Gazette and will be effective on the date it is issued.
People’s Council’s Speaker:
This draft law should be referred to the Legislative and Constitutional Affairs Committee. I have a proposal from Mr. Ghazi Khadhrah saying: “Your immediate consideration of the draft law related to the Moslem Brethren gang is requested. It is time for Mr. Abdallah Musilli to deliver a speech: Mr. Abdallah Musilli:
The demand for an immediate consideration of this draft law is inappropriate for the following reasons:
The Council’s Bylaw indicated that the Executive Authority or any other member may request an immediate consideration of an issue deemed as urgent. Then the issue is referred to the respective committees which have to take a decision to this effect in five days. As you know Mr. Speaker; our present session expires at midnight tonight, i.e. 5½ hours later. So can the Committee afford to wait for five days to discuss this issue. The Constitutional Committee should first look into the constitutional or non-constitutional aspect of this draft law, which is then referred to the Council for discussion. Thus, this draft law will either be constitutionally passed or rejected in light of the comments made by the Committee. The law will then be referred to the respective committees to conduct an objective study of it. As I said earlier, this committee must submit its report in five days.
It has been requested by all world seminars, especially the latest Arab seminar held in Cairo in 1976 in which Syria participated, to cancel the death punishment.
In light of this, and as the Constitution provided for sovereignty of the law, how can we bestow sovereignty on a law passed in five hours? The issue is very serious, and I kindly request brother members to refrain from granting approval for a speedy consideration of the draft law, and to conduct deliberate and accurate discussions in order to identify the social, political, humanitarian, and psychological reasons for endorsing this punishment. In line with the basic principles which I have maintained for twenty years while I have been a member in these legislative councils, I have always sought to safeguard order and Constitution. I will declare before all that I will not attend the meeting of the Constitutional Committee in which I am a member, nor will I discuss this draft law as long as a sooner consideration of this draft law is adopted. Thank you.
Speaker: Is there any comment on a sooner and possible consideration of this draft law? (Silence prevailing). Therefore, those for a sooner consideration of the issue are requested to raise their hands (Hands of the majority are raised), and the Constitutional and Legislative Committee are called to a meeting immediately…. Now I would like to give the floor to Mr. Hisham Al-Salti:
Mr. Hisham Al-Salti:
Please say the number of those members attending the meeting and the number of those who voted for the draft law, as colleague Musilli said, in accordance with the Council’s Bylaw and to identify the majority. Thank you.
Speaker: Again, those voting for a sooner and possible consideration of the issue are requested to raise their hands (Hands raised), and member Mr. Hisham is kindly requested to count the hands with us to see if there is a majority or not.
Mr. Hisham Al-Salti:
Please announce the number of members when the session was opened, and the number required for voting now, and announce the number of voters which will be noted in this Council’s record as a historical reference.
Speaker: The number of attendants is 130 members. The observers are kindly requested to count the voters ‘for’ the proposal to speed up the consideration of the draft law. I also kindly request the brothers to raise their hands for a short period of time because a very high degree of accuracy is needed (Secretary Generals started counting the voters ‘for’ a speedy consideration of the issue).
The required number is “66”, and the number of voters is “68” members. The Constitutional and Legislative Committee is now called to meet immediately provided that we will follow up on our agenda. The floor is given to Mr. Wahid Mustafa to deliver a speech. Mr. Wahid Mustafa:
Before we move to follow-up on our agenda, and after the Council has voted for a sooner consideration of the issue, I would like to ask the following question: Is this law going to solve the problem in our country?
Speaker: You can ask this question when we start debating the draft law. Mr. Hisham Al-Salti will deliver a speech.
Mr. Hisham Al-Salti: I think that the session should be postponed pending the return of the Committee and in order for its members to participate in debating the in-coming reports.
Speaker: Alright, we have a majority. The secretary general will read the first report.
People’s Council - Fifth Emergency Session
Second session held on Sunday afternoon 23rd Sha’aban 1400H corresponding to 6th July 1980, at 6.20 p.m., the People’s Council held a public meeting under the chairmanship of its Speaker Mr. Mahmud Hadid in the presence of the two members and Secretary Generals: Mr. Tawfiq Al-Naqri, and Wafiq Arnus along with the majority of the members.
The session was attended by the following ministers: Mr. Nayif Ta’ani/ Minister of state for People’s Council Affairs, and Engineer: Ra’fat Al-Kurdi/ Minister of Transportation.
Speaker: In view of the presence of the majority of members, I declare the opening of the session. The Secretary General will read the names of both absentees and those on-leave.
Ahmad Dashu, Hassan Jum’a, Rais Farhan Al-Fayyadh, Rashid Isa, Sha’aban Shahin, Dhiya’ Al-Haj Ali, Tarif Kayyali, Abd Al-Aziz Al-Milhim, Ismat Ghubari, Ali Taljini, Faisal Al-Najras, Thabit Al-Mahyni, Muhammad Hamdi Arab, Muhammad Shaikh Ismail, Muhamad Thafir Kheirallah, Muhammad Ali Al-Halabi, Muhammad Al-Imadi, Muhammad Hisham Sifu, Mustafa Al-Ayid.
Members on leave: Abdul Mu’in Al-Fatrawi, Muhammad Mayhub, Nasr Al-Yusif.
Speaker: I have received the report of the Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee concerning the draft law intended to strengthen punishment for affiliation with the Moslem Brethren Jama’a. Those who agree to include this issue within this session’s agenda are requested to raise their hands, (Hands raised) and the Secretary General is requested to read this report.
People’s Council Speaker:
The Constitutional and Legislative Committee met at 10.00 a.m. on Sunday 6th July 1980 under its Chairman: Dr. Fuad Dib and in the presence of its rapporteur: Mr. Ali Milhim along with the following members: Ismail Al-Yusif, Ismail Abdul Ghani, Albeir Abdallah Al-Musilli, Bughus Sarraj, Jum’a Abdun, Sa’id Suleiman, Dr. Arif Hamdan, Najm Al-Din Al-Salih, Hadi Iqbeiq, Muqatta’ Tweisan, Shafiq Wahdan, and Hamdi Al-Mahmud. The remaining members were absent.
The Committee discussed the draft law aimed at tightening punishment for belonging to the Moslem Brethren Jama’a, and reducing punishment for those who hand themselves over.
After reviewing the draft law, imperative reasons for presenting the law, and the honourable Council’s resolution to speed up possible consideration of the issue and the contents of all its articles, following the ministers’ responses to all inquiries raised by the members, the committee decided through a majority vote to discuss the issue because it does not represent a violation of constitutional rules. However, the minority viewed article “5” of the draft law as violating article “30” of the Constitution stating that laws related to penal issues are not retroactive.
The Committee hereby submits its report to your excellency, and kindly requests to have it discussed by the honourable Council for approval of its viewpoint.
Committee Rapporteur: Ali Milhim
Committee Chairman: Dr. Fuad Dib
Speaker: You have heard the report which is being presented for discussion. (Silence) Those voting ‘for’ the report raise their hands (Hands raised). Majority raised hands, and the report was accepted and is referred to both of Constitutional and Legislative Committee, and National Security Committee. Before concluding this session, I would like to call for a meeting now of both Constitutional and Legislative Committee, and National Security Committee. I also would like to remind brother members of the Committees’ meetings tomorrow Monday according to the schedule declared.
As our agenda has been concluded, the session is adjourned until tomorrow Monday 7th July 1980 at 6.00 p.m. Thank you.
Speaker: Is there any other member who wants to deliver a speech? (Silence). Those opting for moving to discuss the articles of the draft law one by one are required to raise their hands. (Hands of the majority raised) the Secretary General will read the first article.
Article 1: Every member of the Moslem Brethren Jama’a organization is considered a criminal and will receive the death punishment.
Speaker: You have already heard this article. Is there any comment? (Silence) Those who agree are required to raise their hands (Hands of the majority raised). Article accepted.
a. Every member of this Jama’a will receive a waiver of punishment indicated in this law or any other law in the event that he declared withdrawal in one month from the date this law came into effect.
b. Withdrawal must be declared according to a written statement submitted in person to the governor or ambassador by those abroad on the date of issuing this law.
Speaker: You have heard the article, is there any comment? (Silence) Those who agree are required to raise their hands. (Hands raised) Majority. Article accepted.
Article 3: Reducing punishment for criminal offences committed by a member of the Moslem Brethren Jama’a organization to achieve the objectives of this Jama’a before this law came into force, provided that he handed himself over in one month from the date this law came into force in case of those inside the country, or in two months in case of those abroad as follows:
a. If the offence is punishable by death or by lifelong hard labour, punishment will be reduced to hard labour for a maximum of five years.
Speaker: You have already heard the article, is there any comment? (Silence) Those who agree are required to raise their hands. (Hands raised) Majority. Article accepted.
Article 5: Those in detention or under trial will not benefit from reducing punishment or amnesty indicated in this law.
Speaker: You have already heard the article. It is time for Mr. Najmuddin Al-Salih to deliver a speech.
Mr. Najmuddin Al-Salih: I would like to ask the Government about these detained people, will the rulings of this law or the previous laws prior to this law apply to them? Thank you.
Speaker: It is time for the Interior Minister to make a speech.
Interior Minister General: Nasir Al-Din Nasir:
Mr. Speaker, the previous laws in force apply to them. Thank you.
Speaker: Is there any other comment? (Silence) Those voting for the fifth article are requested to raise their hands. (Hands raised) Majority. Article accepted. We move to the sixth article which will be read to you by the Secretary General.
Article 6: This law will be punished in the Official Gazette and will be effective from the date it is issued.
Speaker: Is there any comment on the publication article? (Silence) Those voting for the article are required to raise their hands. (Hands raised) Majority. Article accepted. Now those who agree to the overall articles of the draft law…
I have received a proposal from Mr. Jamil Al-Asad to add an article to the law providing for confiscating transportable and non-transportable funds of each member of the Moslem Brethren Jama’a.
We punish the criminals and do not punish their children. Now those who agree to the overall articles of the draft law are required to raise their hands (Hands raised) Majority. The draft law has been accepted and has become a law…
Speaker: The Secretary General will deliver a speech.
Secretary General of the Committee/ Mr. Jum’a Abdun: Mr. Speaker, we at the Constitutional Committee have conducted a comprehensive study of the fifth article. Some questions were raised about this article.
I was one of the people who had some conservations about this text. Both of the Interior and Justice Ministers generally indicated that the law was aimed at conducting an open dialogue with all the deceived people and gave them an opportunity to go back on their erroneous thinking through granting them amnesty or punishment reduction. I have found that the amnesty and punishment reduction are wider than indicated within the general law according to the text of article No. 243 of the general punishment law. I have also found that the text of the general law related to the estimated reduction causes and legal excuses apply also to this special law, because the text of article 243 provides for reducing the death punishment down to 12 years. As for those in detention or under trial and the question raised by Mr. Najmuddin Al-Salih or other colleagues, the first paragraph of the ninth article of the general punishments law provides for the following: Every new law that introduces tougher punishments will not apply to crimes committed before that law came into effect. This means that the more merciful law will apply, and this text is, therefore, constitutional, and that the laws in force prior to committing the crime will be applied. This is what I wanted to clarify. Thank you for your listening.
Invalidity of Law No. 49 because it is contrary to the Syrian Constitution:
Law No. 49 is inconsistent with the Syrian Constitution and contradicts the International Pact signed by the Syrian Government relating to civil and political rights.
First: Contradiction between the provisions of Law No. 49 dated 7th July 1980 and those of the Syrian Constitution.
1. Article No. 28 of the Syrian Constitution stipulates that every citizen is innocent unless condemned according to a judicial sentence. However, the first article of law No. 49 stipulates that every member of the Moslem Brethren is considered a criminal and will be punished by death.
The stipulation involves every member but not a person who becomes a member after this date.
The Moslem Brethren organization as a legitimate political organization in Syria, has established itself on the Syrian arena since 1945, and participated in the social and political life. It used to have representatives in the parliament and cabinet ministers, and made prominent cultural contributions. It built special schools which exerted efforts in the field of literacy through night schools which were opened all over the country and which were joined by thousands of illiterate people. Many of these people received the secondary study certificate and completed their university education. Tens of thousands of citizens from all classes of society became members in this organization including lawyers, engineers, physicians, pharmacists, school and university teachers and students, workers and peasants. Members of this organization won the majority of seats in the scientific associations elections. Such activity was legitimate as this organization was licensed by the state.
Law No. 49 considered all these people as criminals who must be sentenced to death. While paragraph (a) of the second article extended a waiver of this punishment to every member of this Jama’a if he declares withdrawal in one month from the date this law goes into effect, the fifth article of this law set the rules of that paragraph out of action. The fifth article stipulated that those in detention or under trial will not benefit from punishment reduction or amnesty indicated in this law. It is well-known that this law was issued on 7th July 1980, and that the massive homicides against the Moslem Brethren organization started since 1979. This law was issued to provide a cover-up for the crimes committed by the regime including mass murders and house search. The following example is typical of the genocides before the date of issuing the law:
Fifteen detained leaders of the Moslem Brethren were murdered at the Al-Qal’a Prison on 26th June 1979 without any evidence condemning them, apart from affiliation with the Moslem Brethren Jama’a. The leaders put to death included: Dr. Hussein Khalluf, Dr. Mustafa Al-A’awaj. Moreover, tens of thousands of detainees belonging to the Moslem Brethren organization were in the prisons of the regime.
2. Article (3) of the Syrian Constitution stipulated the following: The laws apply only to those cases on the date these laws were in effect, and do not have a retroactive effect. With regard to punitive issues, laws may stipulate otherwise. Yet, Law (49) was given a retroactive effect and is applied to offences before this law came into effect.
Second: Contradiction between Law (49) and the items of the International Treaty related to civil and political rights which was signed by the Syrian Government:
Article (2) of the International Treaty stipulates that each state which is a party to this treaty must amend every law that is not in line with the texts of the treaty. Furthermore, article (19) of the international treaty says that each individual has the right to hold any views and to the freedom of expression without being subjected to any inconvenience.
Article (15) of the International Treaty stipulates the following: No individual may be condemned for a crime because of committing or refraining from committing an action which did not then constitute a crime.
Which judicial department is responsible for trials of the Moslem Brethren organization according to Law (49) dated 7th Aug. 1981?
Upon reviewing the civil and military prosecutor General’s registration records in Syria, we have not found anyone case documented and tackled by the Prosecutor General in implementation of the aforementioned law. Likewise, the Syrian Government did not announce the names of persons tried and sentenced to death in implementation of this law.
Some scholars in Syria paid a visit to President Hafiz Al-Asad accompanied by fathers of detainees for reassurance regarding their sons, following the Tadmur Prison massacre of some 1000 prisoners. The names of these victims were not disclosed. President Hafiz Al-Asad said to them: “Field courts were established in Tadmur to carry out their tasks”. No further clarification was given.
So what are field courts? Who are their judges? Are their trials held secretly or in public? What are the procedures followed by these courts? Does the accused person have the right to use assistance extended by a lawyer to defend himself? Are the judgements of these courts subject to appeal or distinction?
We have to refer to the Field Courts Law to know the answers.
The following is a text of the Legislative Decree which provided for the establishment of these courts.
Establishing Martial Field Courts: Legislative Decree No. 109 dated 17th Aug. 1967
According to the resolution of the Tentative Country Leadership of the Socialist Ba’ath Arab Party No. 2 dated 25th Feb. 1966, and to the Council of Ministers’ resolution No. 109 dated 14th Aug. 1967, the following articles have been drafted:
Article 1: A court or more will be established under the name of Field Martial Court: This court will be responsible for dealing with crimes included in the Martial Courts specialization and which are committed during wartime or military operations and which are referred to these courts according to the Defence Minister’s decision.
This court’s specialization will go into effect as of 5th June 1967.
Article 2: Terms used in this legislative decree are intended to mean the following:
a. Wartime: The period in which armed clashes take place between the Arab Republic of Syria and the enemy and whose beginning and end are determined by a decree.
b. Military operations: Actions and movements conducted by the army or some of its units in the war or armed clash with the enemy.
Article 3: The court is formed according to a decision taken by the defence minister, and consists of a chairman and two members. The chairman’s rank should not be less than that of a “major”, and the rank of each one of the two members should not be less than that of a “captain”. No armed forces officer may be tried before a court whose chairman’s rank is lower than that of the respective officer.
a. Inspector General’s tasks at the Court will be conducted by one or more judges from the Military Inspector General Department who will be named in line with the defence minister’s decision.
b. The Prosecutor General at the Court enjoys all authorities and powers given to the Military Inspector General and the Investigative Judge.
c. The Inspector General’s resolutions are final and cannot be disputed in any way whatsoever.
Article 5: The Court may not follow the arrangements and procedures indicated in the legislations in force.
Article 6: The Court will implement legally established penalties, and no rules issued through any way of questioning will be accepted.
Article 7: Field Court’s judgements will not be implemented unless they are approved by the respective authority. Judgements will be implemented in light of the current legislations.
a. Death sentences will be subject to the State President’s approval, and other judgements will be approved by the Defence Minister.
b. It is up to both of the State President and the Defence Minister, each according to his own specialization, to reduce the punishment or replace it by another, or cancel punishment entirely and keep the complaint on file. Keeping the case on file will carry the effect of general amnesty. He may also order a repetition of the trial before another Field Martial Court. In such a case, the resolution must be issued accompanied by a justification. In the event that an acquittal judgement is issued in the second trail, approval must be attained in all cases, and the judgement must be implemented immediately.
c. It is up to the Defence Minister, in accordance with his specialization, to halt implementing the punishment concerned; in this case, it is necessary to implement the principles of halting the application of judgements indicated within the General Punishments Law.
d. The State President or the Defence Minister, according to each one’s specialization, may after approval of condemnation sentences, exercize the authorities included in the previous two paragraphs.
Article 9: This legislative decree must be published in the Official Gazette.
Damascus on 23.5.1388(H) corresponding to 7th Aug. 1968.
Dr. Nur Al-Din Al-Atasi
Upon reading the Field Martial Courts Law, it is clear that these are emergency courts, which function only during wartime, and at the time of the outbreak of clashes with the enemy. It is clear also that their judges are military and not lawyers, that there is no text within these courts’ law to force them to hold trials in public. These courts are not required to follow the methods and procedures indicated in the effective legislations. The accused individual has no right to use the assistance of a lawyer for self-defence. Judgements issued by these courts are final and are not subject to questioning.
However, it is well-known that Law No. (49) was issued on 7th July 1980, and that before this decree was issued and until the end of the 20th century, no outbreak of fighting with the Zionist enemy or armed clashes with any enemy of the homeland has ever taken place. Therefore, a trial of the Moslem Brethren before this court will be null and void, this court’s resolutions are defunct, and its judges who issued death sentences are considered as criminals who committed premeditated-murder crimes, and they should be tried by the people.
Repressive Laws in Syria (2):
Emergency Law issued through Legislative Decree No. (15) dated 22nd December 1962 by the Council of Ministers.
We have indicated in the first session of the study on the repressive laws in Syria that one of the most serious violations of human rights, and one that has largest impact on man’s exercising of his freedom, is when the state along with all its material and moral resources is transformed from a social organization primarily intended to protect the rights and freedoms of the members of society and regulate their affairs, into an institution practicing terrorism against the same members of the society. Thus, the state commits terrorism, murder, restrict freedom, confiscate funds, and repress those who oppose it and differ with it in terms of opinion, in implementation of the oppressive laws the state has enacted.
If we described Law No. (49) of 1980, which was known to the legal community as the ‘Shame Law’, as being the worst sample of these laws, the emergency law would be the most repressive law which affects the rights and freedoms of all Syrian citizens without any exceptions. This law is a means of depriving citizens of their freedom and a way of seizing their funds and violating all their rights guaranteed by both human rights charters and all heavenly religions along with worldly laws. This law allowed the governement to do anything against any citizen without explaining the causes and without any justification, and without giving the rights to any judicial authority to oppose these actions which constitute the ugliest crimes. In brief, this law authorizes the government to do everything against the homeland and the citizens except creating right-minded people.
Emergency Law - Legislative Decree No. 51 dated 22nd Decemebr 1962
The Council of Ministers issued, and the President of the Republic published the following Legislative Decree:
Chapter 1: A Declaration of the State of Emergency:
a. State of Emergency may be declared in wartime or in the event of a war-threatening condition or in the event that security or public order in the territories of the Republic or in part thereof is subjected to danger because of internal riots or public disasters.
b. The State of Emergency may cover the overall Syrian territories totally or partially
a. A State of Emergency will be announced through a decree issued by the Council of Ministers held under the chairmanship of the President of the Republic and with 2/3 majority of the members, provided that the decree will be submitted to the Council of Deputies at its first meeting.
b. The decree will specify the arrangements and measures that may be taken by the Military Governor as indicated in the fourth article of the legislative decree without violating the clauses of the fifth article.
a. When a State of Emergency is declared, the prime minister should name a Military Governor and all internal and external security forces must be put at his disposal.
b. The Military Governor may appoint one or more deputies reporting to him through a decree.
c. The Military Governor deputies will exercise the respective powers given to them (by the Military Governor) within the designated areas.
The Military Governor or his deputy may issue written directives to take all or some of the following actions or measures, and may refer violations to military courts:
a. Impose restrictions on the freedom of persons in terms of holding meetings, residence, transport, movements, and detaining suspects or people threatening public security and order on a temporary basis, authorizing the conducting of investigations related to both persons and places at any time, and requesting any person to perform any task.
b. Monitor all types of letters, phone calls, newspapers, bulletins, books, drawings, publications, broadcasts, and all forms of expression, propaganda, and advertisements prior to publication. It is required to seize, confiscate, discard, cancel their concession and close their printers’ shops.
c. Specify the times during which public places are opened and closed.
d. Withdraw licenses for keeping arms, ammunitions, explosive materials and other types of explosives, withdraw their delivery orders and seize such materials and close arms stores.
e. Evacuate or isolate some areas, organize transportation vehicles, restrict and limit transportation between different areas.
f. Seize any movable property or real estate, impose temporary guarding on companies and firms, and postpone due debts and liabilities incurred on the seized portion of the property or real estate.
g. Specify punishments imposed on violations of these orders provided that the punishments are not more than imprisonment for three years and a fine of S£3000 or either punishment. In the event that the order does not specify the punishment for violation of such rules, the perpetrator of the violation should be punished by imprisonment for a period of not more than 6 months and a fine of S£500 or by either punishment.
However, all the above mentioned punishments should not be incompatible with the stronger punishments indicated within other laws.
a. It is up to the Council of Ministers held under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister to expand the circle of restrictions and measures mentioned in the previous article if necessary through a decree submitted to the Council of Deputies’ first meeting.
b. This Council may narrow the above mentioned circle of restrictions and measures in light of the condition warranting the declaration of the State of Emergency.
In the regions where a State of Emergency was declared, the following crimes will be referred to martial courts no matter who the perpetrators, or instigators or meddlers were:
a. Violation of the orders issued by the Military Governor.
b. Crimes committed against the state security and public order (Article 260 – Article 293 of the Penal Code)(1).
c. Crimes committed against public authorities (Article 396 – Article 873).
d. Crimes violating public trust (Article 427 – Article 459).
e. Crimes which constitute an overall hazard (Article 573 – Article 586).
The Military Governor may rule some crimes indicated in the previous article out of the military judiciary area of specialization.
The Military Governor may take a conclusive decision regarding a dispute over specialization to draw a dividing line between civil and military judiciary.
Death sentences which become conclusive will not be implemented unless they are endorsed by the Military Governor and after his reviewing the viewpoint of the Ministry of Justice Amnesty Committee.
Chapter 2: Conclusion of the State of Emergency:
A State of Emergency may be concluded by the respective authority entitled to declare the expiry of such a state, in accordance with Article (2) of this Legislative Decree.
Military Courts will continue, after the expiry of the State of Emergency, to look into the issues within the framework of their specialization whether such issues were referred to these courts or not.
Chapter 3: Provisional Rules
The law on the State of Emergency No. 162 dated 27th September 1958 and amendments thereof will be cancelled.
a. The state security courts updated according to the above mentioned Law No. 162 will always be responsible for consideration of the crimes within their area of specialization, committed before the issuance of this legislative decree whether these crimes were referred to them or not. Investigation, referral, trial, keeping the case on file and approval of the rulings issued and amendments thereof will be conducted according to the same principles and procedures followed in line with this law.
The President of the Republic or his designate may keep the claim on file while the claim is being addressed by the court.
b. The guardianship status imposed on some companies and firms according to Law No. 162 will remain in effect until it is cancelled by a decree issued by the Council of Ministers.
c. The State of Emergency declared according to Law No. 162 will remain in force until it is cancelled in line with the tenth article of this Legislative Decree.
This decree must be published and implemented from the date of issuing it.
The State of Emergency was declared in Syria according to military order No. (2) on 8th March 1963, i.e. the first day of the military coup which brought the Ba’th Party to power. We will discuss the degree of legitimacy of the declared State of Emergency from both the formal constitutional and objective aspects.
First: Non-constitutional State of Emergency in Syria in terms of form:
The State of Emergency which has been declared in Syria since 8th March 1963, or for more than 37 years is based on the Legislative Decree No. 51 dated 22nd December 1962. Clause (a) of the second article of this decree stipulated the following:
a. (A State of Emergency should be declared according to a decree issued by the Council of Ministers held under the chairmanship of the President of the Republic with a 2/3 majority of members provided that the decree is presented in the first meeting of the Council of Deputies).
It is noteworthy to point out that there was no Council of Deputies in Syria when this decree was issued. And when the Council of Deputies is being disbanded or the Council’s session is over, the Council will regain its right to endorse the declaration of the State of Emergency at its first meeting. This expression “first meeting” covers all cases in which the Council is not holding any meetings for whatever reason, as warranted by all comparative legislations.
The Syrian Constitution in force now and which was drawn up in 1973 did not address the State of Emergency except in Article (11) whose text runs as follows: (It is up to the President of the Republic to declare or cancel the State of Emergency as demonstrated by the Law).
The Law noted in this article is Law No. (2) dated 22nd December 1962, because it is still the Law in force, and has not been cancelled or amended. However, the clauses of that law are inconsistent with the priciples of the Syrian Consitution, especially Articles 25-33 related to public freedoms.
But Article (153) of the constitution covering this law provides for the following: (Legislations in effect issued before the declaration of this Constitution will remain valid until they are amended in line with the clauses of this Constitution).
Approval by the Council of Deputies or the Council of the People is one of the fundamental conditions for bringing the State of Emergency into effect, in light of its relevance to people’s will, public order and freedoms. If we realize that the State of Emergency has never been submitted to the Council of the People or to any legislative council since its declaration up to now, we will know that the State of Emergency in Syria is non-constitutional, and that all actions based on this state will be null and void because such a state violates the constitution and the Law. For these reasons, the State of Emergency in Syria is not in effect consitutionally, thereby rendering illegal all resolutions issued on the basis of that state, especially orders to arrest individuals and confiscation of funds. The justification is that what is built on illegal grounds is illegal, and that the orders for arresting individuals according to the State of Emergency constitute a crime of restricting freedom, which is a criminal offense as stipulated by Article 556 of the Syrian Penal Code, and is punishable by hard labour. We have quoted statements made by the Syrian Government representative before the United Nations Human Rights Committee located in Geneva.
Paragraph (56) of the Minutes of Meeting Report No. 160 dated 3rd Aug. 1979 runs as follows:
(The Syrian representative has told the Committee that the State of Emergency was observed in Syria long before Syria signed the International Pact, because Syria was the target of a Zionist aggression and the State of Emergency in Syria was subject to the Decree issued on 22nd December 1962 which spells out the cases for the declaration of emergency).
The Syrian representative continues to say in paragraph (60) of the same minutes of meeting report:
“The State of Emergency is declared according to a law published in the Official Gazette. Nevertheless, and contrary to the different political regimes prior to 1963 which were always threatened with coups, the present government felt it was strong enough not to resort to declare a State of Emergency by virtue of its popular basis and modern organization.
This means that the State of Emergency is not constitutionally declared, but it is implemented on the ground and this is worse and more cruel. We refer here to the following statement made by the same Syrian Government representative in the Committee’s session No. (158), i.e. two sessions earlier, in paragraph (5) of the minutes of meeting report of the same session:
(With regard to violating the International Pact, and the Emergency Law in particular, Mr. Al-Fattal reported a statement made by the President of the Republic of Syria before the People’s Council. The statement indicated that exercising freedom is very important, that a person will not be held accountable for his views or beliefs within the framework of the Constitution and the law, and that the Emergency Law would not be implemented from now on unless the state security is in jeopardy. Al-Fattal added that according to the statements and speech delivered by the President of the Republic, the Emergency Law used to be implemented beyond the limits of its texts, and that his orders were given to deal with this case).
The comment made by the Syrian Government’s representative is sufficient to prove that the State of Emergency in Syria is not constitutional and is also abused by the authorities in charge of security which receive their orders from the President of the Republic personally.
After the speech delivered by the President of the Republic in March 1978, and after the comment made by the Syrian Government representative before the Human Rights Committee, abusing the State of Emergency has exacerbated seriously. The years 1979-1980 along with the subsequent years witnessed some forms of human rights violations affecting the human conscience, namely violations of the right to life on a massive scale.
Second: Practices by the security personnel based on the State of Emergency lack objectivity:
While continuing to believe that the State of Emergency is not constitutional, it is interesting to point out that practices perpetrated within the framework of such a state violate the Constitution and the texts of international law.
Legal scholars and experts have unanimously agreed that the State of Emergency is an irregular legal status in which restrictions to citizens’ freedom should be explained within the narrowest minimal terms. Emergency law cannot, therefore, become a higher Constitution and Law which supersede all basic laws in the State. Thus, all legislative, executive and judicial authorities will be mixed us and concentrated in the hands of the Military Governor, i.e. Prime Minister, or the Deputy Military Governor, i.e. Interior Minister who both receive orders from the President of the Republic.
The present implementation of the Emergency Law on the ground has led not only to concentrating authorities in the hands of the prime minister or the interior minister, but also transformed the Military Governor’s management into a secret legislative institution capable of instructing people what to do or to refrain from doing anything. Such an institution runs contrary to any legislation or judicial ruling. It is essential for us to present some details so that our study will be objective and clear.
- The Department which orders the arresting of citizens in accordance with clause (4) of the Emergency Law:
Clause (4) of the State of Emergency Law stipulates that it is up to the Military Governor or his designate to issue written orders to detain suspects as a precautionary measure. This article limits arrest orders to the Military Governor or his designate. But the actual implementation of this article is quite different from what it says. Each and everyone of the 17-Syrian security departments is authorized to issue orders to arrest any citizen without explaining the reasons.
Everyone of these security departments keeps papers on which military orders are printed leaving a vacant space for inserting the name of the person to be arrested, and showing the date of arrest. All these blank arrest orders have already been signed by the interior minister in his capacity as the Deputy Military Governor. If a citizen has been arrested, no military order will be issued to arrest him unless after investigation. In the event that such a citizen dies as a result of torture, the security department which interrogated him will bury him secretly and will deny arresting him or knowing anything about him or about his whereabouts.
But if the investigation is concluded, and the citizen remained alive, the respective security department may either set him free or send him to Tadmur Prison. If that department releases him, it would issue two military orders: the first order is intended to arrest him and carries an old date which is the truthful date of arrest; the second order is intended to set him free and carries a recent date which is the date of setting him free. And if the department decides to send him to prison, the spaces on the already signed military order available at that department will be filled in with the name of the arrested citizen and truthful date of his arrest.
In case the person wanted by the security departments is out of sight, a military order to arrest him will be issued and circulated to other security departments and to Syrian border points with the neighbouring countries. Thus, he will not be able to go out of Syria. All military orders to arrest persons are not limited to a certain period of time. This explains why some persons have been arrested and remained in prison for more than 25 years without trial.
Third: Legal impacts of military orders on arresting citizens according to the State of Emergency:
1. The Judicial Authority has not exercised any power concerning these arrests whether for issuing an order or for implementing such order, or for assuming a responsibility towards interrogating or punishing a person or setting him free. This constitutes a violation of clause (3) of the International Treaty related to the civil and political rights which was signed by Syria and considered part of the internal law as of 16th March 1976 in accordance with Article 49 of this agreement.
2. Citizens have been deprived of exercising their right to request the Judiciary to take a final decision regarding the legitimacy of detaining any person.
3. The right to defend a detained citizen, or allocate a lawyer for consultation has been withheld. Thus lawyers were prohibited from representing or defending any person detained according to a military order based on the claim that the detention is not of a judicial nature. If a lawyer is assigned to represent a detained person, he will not be allowed even to enquire about his principal, and this is a violation of clause “b” of Article (14) of the above mentioned treaty.
4. It is not permissible to dispute the Military Governor’s decisions to arrest any person or confiscate his funds or submit a petition against that to any judicial authority. This, however, contradicts the first clause of Article (14) of the above mentioned international pact.
5. Detainee’s relatives were not allowed to know where he is detained or the indictment addressed to him. It follows then that a detainee cannot be visited to check whether he is alive or dead, and that most detainees without trial in Syria are considered as missing because of their unknown destiny.
6. Social and legal relationships have been disrupted because of the long detention period without trial, and because nothing was known about a detainee’s destiny or place of detention. Relationships affected included marital status, inheritance, partnerships, ownership, etc.
Fourth: International, Arab, and Syrian Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) stance towards the State of Emergency:
There is no room for explaining all these organization’s positions concerning the State of Emergency in Syria. It will, therefore, be sufficient to discuss the attitudes of both the Amnesty International and Syrian Bar Association towards this State of Emergency:
1. Amnesty International:
In October 1979, Amnesty International published a report entitled (Syria: A Brief Review) which includes the following detailed report of human rights violations in Syria:
(The greatest source of concern for the Organization is using emergency legislations to extort political rights, violate human rights to freedom and life, withhold basic legal guarantees, and conduct secret trials for political prisoners before ad-hoc security courts were established according to emergency legislations). Ever since it published its report in 1979, the Organization continued to receive information about oppressive arrests, single-cell imprisonment, torture of detainees, unfair trials often ending up in death, and reports about missing or murdering people at the hands of authorities which do not have judicial powers, as indicated in the Organization’s report in 1983. The report added:
(In light of the longstanding State of Emergency in Syria, Amnesty International would like) to recall that the measures, taken in line with Article (4) of the International Pact related to civil and political rights towards declaring the Sate of Emergency, are irregular provisional measures. It is impermissible for governments to abandon basic rights. Most important of these rights are: man’s right to live, refraining from depriving any individual of his life for oppressive reasons, avoiding subjecting any individual to torture, punishment, mistreatment, or humiliation, impermissibility of condemning anyone for a crime as a result of doing or not doing something which did not then constitute a criminal offense according to national or international law.
2. The Bar Association’s Position Towards the State of Emergency in Syria, and the Solidarity of Both Engineers and Physicians Associations With It:
In the aftermath of exacerbating violations of human rights in Syria under the pretext of the State of Emergency in the second half of the seventies’ decade, the lawyers met to study the oppressive practices committed by Security Departments within the framework of proclaiming a State of Emergency. The General Assembly of the Bar Association Branch in Damascus met and issued resolution No. (1) dated 22nd June 1978 which included the following ten clauses:
1. Demanding the immediate lifting of the State of Emergency declared according to Military Order No. (3) dated 8th March 1963.
2. Seeking to amend the Emergency Law and to limit declaring the State of Emergency to the narrowest extents and restrictions, provided that its period will be for not more than three months renewable for a similar period after a referendum addressed directly to the people.
3. Military orders which were issued in violation of the Emergency Law clauses and which have become a covert quasi-legislative institution should be regarded as being absolutely eliminated and defunct. Lawyers and judges should be requested to discard and not to implement the contents of these orders, not to use these contents in trials conducted, and to boycott such contents completely.
4. Any lawyer and particularly that of official departments, and public institutions and sector bodies who advises those departments and bodies towards seeking to have military orders issued in order to confiscate and seize citizens’ funds and restrict their freedoms, and overstep judicial rules or even the overall judiciary system – is committing a behavioral offense for which he should be interrogated before the Disciplinary Council.
5. Seeking to cancel irregular (emergency) trials under any nomenclature, and referring relevant cases to the regular judiciary courts.
6. Requesting the lawyers to refrain from appearing and practicing their legal profession before these irregular courts, and to boycott these courts completely.
7. Banning all forms of repression, coercion, and physical and psychological torture violating human and national dignity; implementing the principle of the sovereignty of the Law; utilizing the regular judiciary system and enabling it to carry out its duties in an entirely free manner, ending all cases of tactical detention; releasing the people arrested for expression of an opinion, idea, or belief; and referring them to regular judiciary courts for fair and public trials in which their right to self-defense will be secured and their basic rights will be respected.
8. Confronting all types of detention and humiliation, and imposing the penalty practiced by non-judicial departments whose actions are not subject to any legal or judicial control.
9. The principles of the International Human Rights Declaration should be considered the basic code for the citizen and should be given priority over any other local legislation whatsoever in the event that there was a contradiction between their rules.
10. An ad-hoc committee should be formed at the Damascus Bar Association Branch which will be responsible for implementing this resolution through monitoring all violations of the citizen’s right and freedom.
The Bar Association submitted a memo to the Syrian Government on 17th Aug. 1978 which included the demands indicated in the above mentioned resolution.
Then the General Conference of the Bar Association was held in Aleppo on 1st Dec. 1978. Resolution No. (1) issued by the Damascus Bar Association Branch confirmed the solidarity of both Physicians’ and Engineers’ Association with the Bar Association in their legitimate demands.
The Syrian Government has responded to these demands, but dissolved the Boards of Directors of the Bar, Physicians’ and Engineers Associations, arrested their members, and appointed instead of these members, other Boards imposed by the Government.
The Syrian Government issued new laws to organize these associations in a manner which violates Human Rights Declarations and Treaties, thereby depriving these associations of their independence and linking them to the Authority’s Party.
Fifth: The State of Emergency in Syria has become a permanent legal situation and is not an irregular state of affairs:
The State of Emergency in Syria was declared according to the Military Order No. (2) dated 8th March 1963 and has been proclaimed for 37 years.
The Syrian citizen who was born in 1950, was 13 years old then and was below the adulthood age when the State of Emergency was declared in his country, is now 50-years old, and has not experienced the taste or scent of freedom in his country. The State of Emergency has been ongoing, and that citizen has always been scared because he is always subject to arrest by a military order, and for an indefinite period of time without any right to submit an objection to any judiciary department. Many corrupt security officers receive bribes from some citizens in return for issuing a military order to detain anyone of their enemies for an indefinite period of time. The enmity could be due to a trade, professional dispute or competition over something, and somebody wanted to eliminate his competitor. Additionally, the citizen was deprived of his political rights and personal freedom, and his intellectual freedom and free right to hold any belief or conviction.
It is, therefore, the duty of every Syrian citizen, regardless of his political affiliations, to seek to cancel the State of Emergency in Syria, and the Emergency Law issued in accordance with the Legislative Decree No. (15) dated 22nd Dec. 1962, together with the resulting aggression against the human rights of the Syrian citizen for more than 37 years.
1. Legislative Decree Amendment No. (1) dated 9th March 1969.
2. Military Order No. (16) dated 17th June 1996 amends this article and refers crimes within both articles 314,318 to relevant civil courts.
3. Military Order No. (31) dated 1st Aug. 1995 amends this article and refers crimes to relevant civil courts.
Repressive Laws in Syria (3):
Law related to establishing the State Security Department issued through the Legislative Decree No. (14) dated 15th January 1969, and the Law related to the internal regulations of the State Security Department issued through the Legislative Decree No. 549 dated 12th May 1969.
These two laws violate the Syrian citizen’s rights, and deprive him of the right to resort to the Judiciary to sue any security man who committed a crime against him, if this crime was perpetrated, because or while the security man was doing his job.
Humanity has completed the second millenium which witnessed enormous progress made in the field of communications, including television, radio and publications. In view of the great advancement made by science and technology, all peoples can now, by virtue of the mass media, live and experience the same events simultaneously, and understand each other better. In the meantime, all these media brought about deep transformation in the social communication within every nation, and opened new prospects in terms of the transfer of knowledge and know-how, enhancing and expanding the cultural life pallet to that of the international community. Despite all this progress achieved by the mass media, human rights violations are still continuing in a striking manner in many countries around the world.
Although the confidential bulletin that the opponents circulated to spread their ideas in the countries which were deprived of their right to the freedom of expression, thereby risking the life of such bulletins’ distributors in the event that they were caught by the security men, those bulletins are now communicated safely through modern means of communication in terms of both voice and picture to citizen’s homes and offices.
However, everything hidden was revealed. Totalitarian regime’s dominance over the mass media within the state has lost its justification, because citizen now can receive information from other sources outside their country conveniently and easily. The citizen can detect the deception of mass media in those regimes by virtue of the satellite space stations, fax, and internet. But… and in spite of that, those regimes still retain covert laws not published in the Official Gazette for fear of scandal before the public opinion both locally and internationally. These laws violate human rights to life and freedom, and obstruct the judicial authority’s right to punish the security Departments personnel for the crimes they committed because of while performing their jobs including torturing citizens, restricting their freedom, murdering them, depriving them of their right to life. These laws confiscate citizen’s right to resort to the judiciary to stop aggression against him and to punish the aggressor if the defendant was a security man. The following are the literal texts of Article (16) and Article (30) of the Law (Establishing the State Security Department issued according to Legislative Decree No. (14) dated 25th January 1969, and Article No. (74) along with Article (101) of the Internal Organizations Law of the State Security Department and the Rules Governing their employees, issued according to Legislative Decree No. (549) dated 25th May 1969.
First: Articles (16) and (30) of the Legislative Decree No. (549) dated 25th Jan. 1969:
Article 16: It is not permissible to pursue any legal action against any State Security Department employee for crimes committed while implementing their designated tasks or in the process of performing such tasks unless an order is issued by the director to that effect.
Article 30: This Decree should not be published and should be put into action on the date it is issued.
Second: Articles (74) and (101) of the Legislative Decree (549) dated 25th May 1969.
Article 74: Is impermissible to pursue any legal action against any State Security Department personnel or those employees working for the Department on a temporary assignment, or on a loan, or contract basis directly before the judiciary with regard to crimes incurred as a result of the job or in the process of doing that job before referring him to a Disciplinary Council at the Department, and before an order is issued by the Director to pursue legal action against him.
Article 101: This Decree should not be published and is considered effective on the date Decree (14) goes into force as of 15th January 1969.
As the General Prosecutor is concerned with presenting and conducting public right claims against those who commit crimes, the Law related to punitive trials regulations indicated that the General Prosecutor will be forced to present a claim, if the abused person himself makes a complaint regardless of the position of the defendant. Exceptions to this law are limited to the State President, because the constitutions provided for special procedures that must be followed for pursuing legal action against him if he committed a crime. But the above mentioned two laws prohibit the General Prosecutor from filing a claim against Security Forces personnel, even if the abused individual himself filed the claim.
Thus, these two laws provided the Security men with privileges which ruined the principle of equality before the Law. It is noteworthy to point out that humanity has struggled to attain since the dawn of history and up to the modern age.
First: Equality before the Law:
One of the pillars of equality before the Law is equality in terms of the protection provided by the Law. This means that all the people are equal insofar as enjoying the full legal guarantees are concerned, especially with regard to the right to file a claim before the judiciary departments, the right to receiving assistance from the administrative departments, the right to submitting petition to the relevant higher authorities, and the right to benefit from all means of legal protection. What contradicts this equal legal protection is the presence of special judicial privileges granted to a certain category of people or employees. These privileges cannot be justified on the basis of considerations emanating from political freedoms.
The most eloquent expression of this equality came from Prophet Muhammad, Allah’s prayers and peace by upon him, who said: (Ancient peoples before you were eliminated because if an honourable person committed robbery, the would do nothing against him; but if a humble person stole something, they would punish him. I swear by Allah if Fatima, Muhammad’s daughter stole something, I would chop her hand off).
Equality has always won the attention and interest of the people and the masses who are deeply influenced and moved by it in all walks of life. It is one of the words which was used frequently by many great figures, leaders, and reformers, and which filled the books of philosophers and scholars, and preoccupied events throughout various phases of history. Equality continues to be a central importance for theories and movements, and an incentive for prosperity, because of persecution against liberties and usurpation of authority.
Equality before the Law was one of the oldest human rights advocated by both ancient and modern constitutional charters. The most important modern charters which emphasized equality: United Nations Charter of 1945, the International Declaration on Human Rights of 1948, and the Two International Pacts on Human Rights of 1966.
Second: Crimes which were committed by Security men and which were needed to issue these two Laws for protecting them:
The basic task of Security men within the repressive governments is to track, arrest, interrogate and imprison the national opposition figures, because of their ideas, views, and demands for freedom, equality and respect for human rights. In fact, the Law has drawn up legal ways and methods for arrest, interrogation and detention, and provided for punishments against those violating these methods. Detention should take place only according to a judicial memo issued by the relevant judiciary department, and the detained person should be referred to the judiciary court within 24 hours from the time of detention. Otherwise, detention will be considered a freedom-restricting offence. Interrogation should be conducted according to its scientific and legal methods which are from using physical and moral violence and torture. Article (555) of the Syrian Penal Code stipulates the following:
1. Whoever deprives another of his personal freedom in any manner whatsoever will be punished by imprisonment for a period ranging from six month to one year.
2. The criminal’s punishment will be reduced if he released and pardoned the detained person in 48 hours without committing any other crime or criminal offense against him.
Article (556) of the same law stipulated the following:
The criminal will be sentenced to temporary hard labour:
a. If the deprivation of personal freedom lasted for more than one month.
b. If the person who was deprived of his freedom was tortured physically or morally.
With regard to violence and the use of force during interrogation to extract information, the Syrian Penal Code is very clear on this point. Article (391) of the Syrian Penal Code stipulated the following:
(Whoever exercized forms of torture not allowed by Law, in order to extract acknowledging the committing of a crime, or information related to that crime, he will be punished by imprisonment for a period of three months to three years. If violent actions lead to some illness or wounds, the minimum punishment will apply, i.e. one-year imprisonment).
Crimes committed by Security men during or on account of performing their jobs are:
1. Using force and physical and moral torture to extract a statement acknowledging the committing of a crime or some other information.
According to Amnesty International, torture in Syria is (a repeated and organized process from which political prisoners in the country are suffering, and whoever displays any opposition to the government will be subject to detention and torture. Torture at the hands of the Security men in Syria is not intended only to extract information, but is also practiced against detainees whose interrogation has been completed and who have been imprisoned and severely tortured on a daily basis as part of the punishment. As torture at the hands of the Security men in Syria is not our main concern, what we have just mentioned will be sufficient. For more information, it is necessary to review Amnesty International’s report entitled: (Torture at the Hands of the Security Departments in Syria dated October 1987).
2. Detention and restricting freedom for an indefinite period of time extending to decades without referring the detained person to the judiciary. In view of the immunity enjoyed by the Security men towards interrogation about crimes committed, coercive cases of arrest and denial of detainees’ rights have escalated.
It is practically possible to identify the department responsible for ordering the detention of citizens, because that is something linked to numerous security departments which were said to be seventeen departments, including:
1. Military Intelligence.
2. Air Forces Intelligence.
3. Presidency of the Republic Intelligence.
4. Political Security.
5. Special Units Intelligence.
6. University Security Department.
7. General Intelligence.
8. Foreign Intelligence.
9. Palestine Branch.
Each one of these departments has tens of branches in the capital, governorates, and rural areas. Moreover, each security department is authorized to issue arrest orders without explaining the reasons. Arrest orders are issued either verbally by the official in charge of the Security Department, or by telex, or phone, or in writing. The arrest order is carried out by elements of the issuing Security Department without informing other Security Departments of that.. This means that there is no centralization, because the Military Governor has given the Security Departments wide-ranging authorities, and authorized them to carry out sweeping arrests. The Deputy Military Governor Department within the Interior Ministry is considered the Administrative Source, and this is a violation of the fourth article of the Emergency Law which requires issuing a written order for nay measure taken by the Military Authority. The relatives of the detained person usually do not know where he was detained, or the department that ordered his detention, or the reasons for detaining him.
Third: These two laws violate both human rights and the Syrian Constitution:
1. The eighth article of the International Declaration of Human Rights indicated that “each person has the right to resort to national courts for attaining justice regarding aggression against his basic rights”.
The tenth article of the same Declaration also indicated that “every human being has the right, on an equal footing with others, to have his case considered before an independent neutral court, in public to take a decision concerning his rights and commitments, and any charges directed against him”.
2. The third article of the International Treaty related to Civil and Political Rights indicated the following:
“every state which is party to this treaty pledges to guaranty a proper compensation for every person in case of aggression against the rights and freedoms mentioned in this agreement, even if such aggression is committed by persons working in an official capacity”.
Likewise, Article (14) of the above mentioned treaty stipulated that: “All persons are equal before the Law”.
3. The third clause of Article (25) of the Syrian Constitution: “Citizens are equal before the Law in terms of rights and duties”. Therefore, the special judicial privileges granted to Security men, to guard them against any legal action for crimes committed while or because of exercizing their jobs, represent:
- A violation of human rights to equality before the Law.
- A violation of international treaties especially those related to human rights.
- Aggression against the Syrian Constitution.
Therefore, the Syrian Human Rights Committee appeals to Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) concerned with human rights to request the Syrian Government to cancel the above mentioned articles of the aforementioned Laws, consider them as defunct, and give the right to every person, hurt by crimes committed by the Security elements in Syria, to resort to regular (non emergency) judicial procedures to bring those elements to trial.
Repressive Laws in Syria (4): Revolution Protection Law
The Revolution Protection Law No. (6) dated 7th January 1965 stipulates in Article (4) clause (a) thereof the following:
Perpetrators of offenses, indicated in clauses (a-d) of the previous article will be punished by lifelong hard labour, and may be sentenced to the toughest punishment.
But perpetrators of offenses indicated in clause (a) of the previous article, that is, Article (3) of this Law, will receive lifelong hard labour along with the toughest punishment, i.e. death, and the text thereof runs as follows:
(Offenses considered as violating the implementation of the Socialist System in the State, whether such offenses were deeds, or by a word of mouth, or in writing or in any other form of expression or publication).
This law cancels, therefore the Syrian person’s right to the freedom of opinion and expression.
First: Importance of the freedom of opinion and expression cancelled by this law:
Thinking is an internal process limited to the inner self and wrapped up in secrecy. If thinking is declared or revealed, in public, its impact will be greater, and its extent will be broader. Thus, a visible expression of internal thinking is called expression of opinion. In fact, history is replete with struggle stories of scholars, philosophers, and politicians in every age who demanded freedom of expression, and suffered persecution to reinforce it within the rules, laws and constitutions. Moreover, they criticized constraints to restrict that freedom, and the rulers who opposed and yet lavished praise on it in their meetings, clubs, and writings. Voltaire said: “I denounce what you are saying, but I am willing to sacrifice my life in defense of your right to say it”. That is because freedom of expression complements freedom of thinking, conscience, and belief which will remain incomplete if one cannot express one’s ideas and views. Such ideas and views are expressed through one’s private conversations, speeches in clubs and public meetings, or in one’s memoirs or articles. Thus, the freedom of opinion and expression has been sacred and dedicated in all constitutions, declarations of basic freedoms in both internal and external, and international treaties.
Article (1) of the International Declaration on Human Rights indicated that “each individual has the right to freedom of opinion and expression which involves his right to face no inconvenience for his views, and to have access, regardless of geographical borders, to news, ideas, and to broadcast them in any form of expression”. This statement has been adopted by the same article (19) of the International Pact for Civil and Political Rights and the restrictions clarified in light of others’ rights and reputation.
Islamic Law (Shari’a) has acknowledged the freedom of opinion as a result of intellectual freedom, and considered the freedom of opinion and expression as mandatory, provided that it is a type of instructing others to do good deeds and refrain from doing evil things, and that it is an outspoken expression of one’s right and demand for justice. Verse (104) of Surat Al Imran stipulated: “Let there arise out of you a band of people inviting to all that is good, enjoying what is right, and forbidding what is wrong: They are the ones to attain felicity”. According to Imams: Abu Dawud, and Tirmizi quoting Abi Sa’id Al-Khudari, who quoted the Prophet, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him, as saying: “The best type of struggle is that of saying a word of justice in the presence of an unfair ruler”. Moreover, Caliph Omar Ibn Al-Khattab, my Allah bless him, was reported to have accepted a woman’s objection to his viewpoint concerning the dowry, and approved her objection as being accurate, saying: “The woman was right and Omar was wrong”.
Second: What are the offenses considered as violating the implementation of the Socialist System, and whose perpetrator will be sentenced to life-term hard labour imprisonment and may be sentenced to death if tough conditions were warranted?
Every word of mouth, or dead, or bulletin, or speech, contrary to the ruling party’s views, and which criticizes and points out the party’s errors constitutes a crime (violating the implementation of the Socialist System). The State Security Court in Syria contemplated this issue and came up with the view that the call for respecting human rights along with the criticism against such violations of these rights constitutes a crime (violating the implementation of the Socialist System). Therefore, the State Security Court sentenced human rights activists to hard-labour imprisonment for 5-10 years. In 1992, some 50 people were arrested for having links with committees for defense of democratic freedoms and human rights in Syria. Some 17 persons of these people were referred to the State Security Court and faced virtually secret trials during the period 29th Feb. – 17th March 1992, and lawyers were not allowed to consult the defendants.
The testimonies were included within a statement issued by the Committees for Defense of Democratic Freedoms and Human Rights in Syria on the occasion of 43rd anniversary of issuing the International Declaration on Human Rights. The 2-page statement issued was entitled: “Two Years on the Road to Democracy and Free Human Rights”, and criticized the Syrian Government’s human rights record, and the method used for conducting a referendum to re-elect President Hafiz Al-Asad.
The statement accused the Syrian Government of the following:
1. Forcing the people to participate in the referendum: Entire villages we compelled to walk for long distances to reach the nearest cities to vote.
2. Citizens were obliged to repeat the slogans in support of President: Hafiz Al-Asad.
3. Merchants were forced to pay the costs of decorations set up on the occasion of electing the president.
4. The statement called for immediate cessation of repressive arrests operations and release of all political prisoners.
5. The statement called for providing reliable guarantees to secure repatriation of citizens, who were forced to immigrate, from their compulsory exile.
6. The statement called for lifting the State of Emergency, abolishing marshal law, and restoring constitutional rule.
7. The statement called for drafting a law which allows for opposition parties’ activities, and for legally authorizing the activities of the Committees for Defense of Democratic Freedoms and Human Rights.
The Court issued the following ruling on 17th March 1992:
First: The Court acquitted seven out of the seventeen defendants.
Second: According to the clause (a) of Article (4) of the Revolution Protection Law issued through Legislative Decree No. (6) dated 7th Jan. 1965, and as indicated by clause (a) of Article (3) of this Law, and based on the grounds for estimate reduction (of penalties), ten persons were convicted: seven persons were sentenced to hard-labour imprisonment for periods ranging from 5-10 years. These persons are: (1) Aktham Na’isah (2) Samir Na’isah (3) Muhammad Ali Habib (4) Amjad Bahbuha (5) Hassan Far’ah (6) Afif Mazhar (7) Mahmud Abu Hamad.
Three of the convicted persons were sentenced to hard-labour imprisonment for three years because no evidence was proved against them, except learning about the statement issued by the above mentioned Defense Committees and refraining from informing the respective authority of a crime they knew about. The existence of this effective law in Syria at the beginning of the third millennium constitutes a setback for human principles and a movement backward by 2000 years to the ages of darkness, injustice, deception, and ignorance. It also constitutes an infringement of the United Nations principles and a violation of international treaties, especially the treaty related to civil and political rights which was signed by the Syrian Government. The Syrian Government considered these treaties as part of the domestic legislations and as having priority over these legislations. Above all, it constitutes a violation of the human rights which the whole world has called for respecting.
The Syrian Human Rights Committee appeals, therefore, to the international community, especially the Human Rights Organizations all over the world to lift injustice against the Syrian people. This law violates these people’s right to the freedom of thinking and opinion. The Committee requests the Syrian Government to cancel repressive laws detrimental to the human conscience and the international community, such as Law (49) issued on 7th July 1980, and to abolish the State of Emergency declared according to the Military Order No. (2) dated 8th March 1963, which has been ongoing for more than thirty-seven years. This Committee also requests the Syrian Government to amend the Emergency Law No. (15) dated 22nd Dec. 1962 in accordance with the United Nations regulations, international treaties, and human rights, and cancel both of Article (16) of the Law (14) dated 25th Jan. 1969 and Article (74) of the Law (549) dated 25th May 1969. These two articles obstruct the Judiciary’s right to sue security men for the crimes they committed against citizens while, or because of, practicing their jobs. Above all, this Committee requests the Syrian Government to abolish Law No. (16) dated 1st Jan 1965 which is called the Revolution Protection Law as mentioned earlier.
Repressive Laws in Syria (5):
The Arab Republic of Syria’s Constitution issued on 13th March 1973.
The word “Dustoor”, meaning “Constitution” comes originally from Persian and means a set of Royal Laws. Then that word found its way into Turkish and was thereafter used widely in Arabic and acquired more meanings over the ages.
However, the word “Dustoor” is used in most Arab countries to refer to the basic law which determines the type of regime in the state, including the government’s authority, and the way it is distributed and exercized, and to explain the individual’s rights and duties.
Unlike other laws, the Constitution is marked by its supremacy or superiority or unique position compared to regular laws to safeguard it against whimsical risks and bursts of time. It cannot, therefore, be amended, or changed unless it is absolutely necessary. In the event that the texts of the Constitution contradict regular laws, priority will be given to the Constitution. Yet, no law may be issued contrary to the Constitution. According to the Constitution, governance rests with a group of citizens especially qualified for this task, and this group is the government. The Constitution has subjected the government to monitoring by the public opinion which the members of the Legislative body represent. Such bodies are called Parliaments, or the Nation’s Council, or the Consultative Council, or the People’s Council. The constitutionality of the laws is a principle intended to mean that it is necessary for the laws issued by the legislative authority to match the texts of the written Constitution. It is also a rule that any law, issued contradictory to a clause in this Constitution, will be considered an unconstitutional legislation. The Judiciary should refrain from implementing that law, and the Constitutional Court is bound to pass a judgement respectively to consider such law as null and void.
Most Western Constitutions emerged as a result of the Renaissance which took place towards the late Medieval Ages, and the pressure from well-known revolutions launched to support and liberate the people from the State’s injustice and tyrannical dictatorships.
Constitutions recognized people’s rights and established parliamentary democracy, stipulated freedom of belief and the inviolability of the human life, funds, and house. Moreover, Constitutions guaranteed free trials and safeguarded against holding someone as criminal without a fair trial. Yet, Constitutions emphasized equality before the law, especially as everybody, including the State President, is subject to the law and will be questioned about his actions which violate the law. Constitutions have distributed authority between three parallel bodies, i.e. the Legislative Authority, Executive Authority, and Judicial Authority. Such distribution is well-balanced so that no authority will dominate another. The Constitution is drawn up by an institutional society elected by the people on the grounds that the nation is the source of all authorities.
Modern Constitutions, both in the East and the West, acknowledged the people’s sovereignty, and that the nation is the source of authorities. They surrounded this term with a halo of holiness and respect, because it was achieved as a result of a longstanding conflict between the kings, absolute authority and the peoples which struggled hard for freedom. The emphasis on people’s sovereignty involves some basis principles, and the absence of any one of these principles will render people’s rights as incomplete.. Most important of these principles are the following:
1. The Constitution is drafted by and out of the people’s free and absolute will.
2. Laws are applied indiscriminately to all citizens, both notable and humble people alike, provided that no one is above the law, and that the higher position a citizen acquires in the State, the greater responsibility he will assume.
3. The law will apply first and foremost, to the President of the State, because he is the custodian of the law. As the law entitled him to more authorities than anyone else, yet it dictated duties on him far beyond those assigned to any other person. A violation committed by an ordinary citizen will be considered an offense; but a crime if committed by the State President. Such consideration is intended as a guarantee against deviation which will lead to the destruction of the nation.
4. The people are the source of all authorities. This means that the people appoint the three authorities: the Executive, the Legislative and the Judicial. There is no jurisdiction, higher than that of the people. Any attempt to undermine this authority will be a betrayal towards the people aimed at seizing their jurisdiction. The people’s authority is not liable for bargaining. No individual, or party, or body, or sect can claim to represent the people on the basis of holy, or revolutionary, or class-oriented or other authorities. The people exercize their authorities in the form of electing, dismissing, and re-electing rulers through free and fair elections. Every individual should be indiscriminately given the right to be a candidate for assuming any position, to express his views and ideas absolutely, and to spell out such views and ideas on an equal footing with others without monopolizing the mass media in favour of one group against another.
5. All authorities cannot be bestowed on one institution, but should be divided between the following three bodies:
- Executive Authority.
- Legislative Authority.
- Judicial Authority.
These authorities must be distributed evenly so that no authority will overpower another.
6. The Constitution must guarantee the freedom of thinking, belief, and expressing one’s opinion, respect for the opposite opinion, political pluralism, the freedom of forming parties, trade and labour unions, freedom of the press, and allowing for political pluralism.
An outlook at the Constitution of the Arab Republic of Syria issued on 13th March 1973:
This Constitution was not drafted by a founding society elected by the people for this task. But this Constitution was drawn up by:
1. A government that took over power in a military coup, and appointed a council called “the Council of the People”, and entrusted it with endorsing the Constitution.
2. This Constitution gave the State President, whom the government called “President of the Republic”, infinite and imaginary authorities similar to those of Chosro, Caesar, kings and emperors of the Medieval Ages.
In the meantime, the Constitution gave the State President immunity against questioning, trial, and punishment for any erroneous action, or violation of laws, or committing any crime, whether this crime was an infraction, felony, or offense. No authority was given the right to interrogate him unless he committed high treason. Incredible prerequisites were established for conducting such interrogation. It follows then that these prerequisites are impossible to secure for his interrogation or trial.
Article (95) of the Constitution indicated that “The President of the Republic will appoint the Vice President, Prime Minister, Ministers, and will also dismiss them from their positions”.
Article (100) stipulated: “The President will declare war, public mobilization, and will sign compromises”.
Article (101) indicated: “The President will declare and cancel the State of Emergency”.
Article (103) stipulated: “The President of the Republic is the Commander-in-Chief of the Army and the Armed Forces, issues all resolutions and orders to exercise this authority, and is entitled to have some of these authorities”.
Article (107) indicated: “The Council of the People can be dissolved in light of a justifiable resolution issued by the Council”. It is also the President who will decide when the Council of the People can be dissolved.
Article (109) stipulated: “It is up to the President of the Republic to appoint civil and military personnel and terminate their services”.
Article (111) indicated: “The President will assume the Legislative Authority during intervals between legislative sessions and while the Council’s session is in progress if absolutely necessary as warranted by the country’s national interests. The President alone determines such “absolute necessity”.
Article (133) stipulated: “The President of the Republic will head the Higher Judiciary Council”.
Article (139) stipulated: “The Constitutional Court will consist of five members including one member as Chairman. The members will be named by the President of the Republic”.
Article (91), on all-embracing article in the Constitution, stipulated that:
“The President of the Republic will not be held responsible for whatever he does directly, except in case of high treason. A request for his indictment will be made according to a proposal by at least a third of the Council of the People in a public vote and with a majority of the Council members through a special secret session. His trial can take place only before the Constitutional Court which will be appointed by him”.
3. The second clause of the second article of the Constitution stipulated that: “The people have a sovereignty which they practice as indicated in the Constitution. However, Article (8) of the Constitution removes the sovereignty from the people and put it in the hands of the ruling party”. Article (8) stipulated: ”The Ba’ath Party is the leading party within the society and the State”.
What has, therefore, been left of this sovereignty for the people, as long as the Ba’ath Party imposed itself on the State and the society as a leader, ruler and master whom the people have no right to interrogate, or dismiss and elect another?
4. The Constitution did not provide for the principle stating that the “people are the source of the authorities”. The President enjoys all Executive and Legislative Authorities along with complete hegemony over the Judiciary. Therefore, the people do not have the right to choose or dismiss him and elect another president, because the Constitution kept this indisputable authority in the hands of the Ba’ath Party. The people have no right but to give their approval for whoever candidate of the Regional Leadership of the Ba’ath Party.
5. This Constitution concentrates Legislative, Executive and Judicial Authorities in the hands of the President of the Republic. But the Council of the People which should have the Legislative Authority, and the Higher Judiciary Council which should have the Judiciary Authority, have only limited authorities. In fact, Legislative Councils should be directly and freely elected by the people. In order to have free elections, there must be free formation of parties, issuance of newspapers, founding of broadcasting and T.V. stations, and mass media, along with freedom of thinking and expressing one’s opinion. It is interesting to note that all the mass media are owned by the State, and that the Socialist Arab Ba’ath Party called by the Syrian Constitution “the leading party within the State and society”, acts on behalf of the State in this regard.
As we know, marshal rules have been declared in Syria according to the Military Order No. (2) since 8th March 1963 corresponding to the first day of the coup which brought the Ba’ath Party to power, i.e. ten years before the Constitution, which is the subject of this study, was issued. The State of Emergency has been ongoing in Syria up to this moment and is still continuing. In light of the above mentioned considerations and the Ba’ath Party’s domination over all the mass media, we will realize that only a very minimal role is being left for the people to play in electing the Legislative Councils.
Besides, the President of the Republic assumes the Legislative Authority in the intervals between legislative sessions, and while the Council’s session is in progress if necessary. This necessity will be determined by the President of the Republic. The Council of the People has no right to receive a Ministerial Statement from the Cabinet in order to attain confidence. In fact, it is the President of the Republic that appoints and dismisses ministers, and any other employee in the State.
The Judicial Authority is a body especially responsible for interpretation an implementation of the Law, provided that it is independent of the Executive Authority, and that its powers are not encroached upon. It is the body that strikes a balance between the three authorities, so that no authority will overstep another. This authority achieves justice, and straightens deviation perpetrated by individuals, institutions and officials of authority. However, this authority has lost its independence, and its domain of influence expanded after the formation of the emergency courts whose judgements are not subject to refutation before the Higher Judiciary. The judges of this authority are not bound to implement the law within the framework of trial procedures which are almost like using torture cells on the part of Security men at the Courts.
When the Constitution appointed the President of the Republic as chairman of the Higher Judiciary Council, it has thereby cancelled the remaining authorities of the Judiciary Department.
6. How is the President of the Republic elected? What are the requirements which must be met by the candidate for the President of the Republic? Can any citizen become a candidate for this position? Do the people have the right to choose such candidates who are good citizens, or is the people’s choice limited to certain persons? Article (84) of the Constitution stipulated the following:
“Candidacy for Presidency of the Republic will be issued by the Council of the People according to a proposal made by the Regional Leadership of the Socialist Arab Ba’ath Party. The candidate will be submitted to the citizens through a referendum”.
This statement eliminates all Syrian citizens’ right to become candidates for the Presidency of the Republic, and limits such right to the person named by the Regional Leadership.
The statement ostensibly indicates that the Council of the People appoints the candidate. But in fact, the Council is bound to choose the candidate introduced by the Regional Leadership of the Socialist Arab Ba’ath Party, and is not authorized to choose another candidate. Thus, it does nothing more than processing the candidate’s name towards the next step, and is not authorized to do anything more than that.
By the same token, the statement eliminated the people’s right to choose whoever they want to become President of the Republic. People’s right has, therefore, been limited to endorse whoever was proposed – i.e. imposed – by the Regional Leadership of the ruling party, and who came through the Council of the People.
The question is: who will be observing the ballot boxes filled with papers on which the word “Yes” is written, if there is no opposition? The opposition is forbidden, and the only party which is leading the State and the society is the Ba’ath Party as stipulated by the Constitution. There is no competitor candidate so that the people will have an opportunity to compare and choose between two persons. Thus, supporters of each candidate will observe the ballot boxes, and none of the two candidates will try to forge the elections. So, there is only one party and one candidate. This party and the supporters of this candidate are the ones who will administer the referendum. That is why the result of the referendum has always been 99.99% of the voters in support of the only candidate.