Article 53(2) of the 2012 Constitution of Syria provides that:
No one may be tortured or treated in a humiliating manner, and the law shall define the punishment for those who do so....
The Constitution does not guarantee the right to life.
Article 44 governs the right of peaceful assembly:
Citizens shall have the right to assemble, peacefully demonstrate and to strike from work within the framework of the Constitution principles, and the law shall regulate the exercise of these rights.
The Constitution does not address law enforcement agencies.
|1966 Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)||State Party|
|ICCPR Optional Protocol 1||Not party|
|1984 Convention against Torture (CAT)||State Party|
|Competence of CAT Committee to receive individual complaints||No|
|CAT Optional Protocol 1||Not party|
|1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court||Signatory|
|2004 Arab Charter of Human Rights||State Party|
Police Use of Force
Law enforcement in Syria is conducted by a range of agencies and bodies. Under Legislative Decree No. 67 of March 1965, the police were considered as part of the Internal Security Forces but operating under the Ministry of the Interior. It is not known if this decree remains in force.
On 30 September 2008, the government issued Legislative Decree No. 69, which confers immunity against prosecution to security officials and police officers for crimes committed while on duty. The police and other law enforcement agencies effectively operate without legal constraint.
There is no independent civilian police oversight body in Syria. Military courts deal with all cases involving members of the armed forces or the police.
Views and Concluding Observations of United Nations Treaty Bodies
In 2019, the Committee on the Rights of the Child regretted the absence of information on measures taken to clearly instruct the army and security forces to take the measures necessary to prevent the killing and injury of children and to cooperate with international human rights mechanisms. Syria has not come before the Human Rights Committee in recent years.
In 2013, the Committee against Torture again invited Syria to submit a special report on measures taken to ensure that all its obligations under the CAT were fully implemented and expressed its deep concern
about numerous, consistent and substantiated reports from reliable sources about widespread violations to the provisions of the Convention by the authorities of the Syrian Arab Republic, including:
(a) Torture and ill-treatment of detainees, including children who were subjected to torture and mutilation while detained
(b) Widespread or systematic attacks against the civilian population, including killing of peaceful demonstrators and the excessive use of force against them
(c) Extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions
(d) Arbitrary detentions by police forces and the military
(e) Enforced and involuntary disappearances.
Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic
The Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic was established on 22 August 2011 by the UN Human Rights Council through resolution S-17/1, with a mandate to investigate all alleged violations of international human rights law since March 2011 in Syria. The Commission was also tasked to establish the facts and circumstances that may amount to such violations and of the crimes perpetrated and, where possible, to identify those responsible with a view of ensuring that perpetrators of violations, including those that may constitute crimes against humanity, are held accountable.
In its report of 1 February 2018, the Commission reported that for more than six years, it had been independently and impartially documenting serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law committed by the parties to the conflict in Syria that has claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands.
Such violations have driven more than half of the population of the country to leave their homes. From its inception, the conflict was characterized by the utter disregard for the civilians that the parties to the conflict purport to represent and for international law.
This report demonstrated
once again that civilians have not only been the unintentional victims of violence, but have often been deliberately targeted through unlawful means and methods of warfare. Arbitrary arrests, enforced disappearances, torture, and sexual and gender-based violence have all been used against thousands of persons in detention. Vital civilian infrastructure has been decimated by repeated attacks on medical facilities, schools and markets. Humanitarian aid has been instrumentalized as a weapon of war with siege warfare and denial of life-saving assistance used to compel civilian communities and parties to the conflict, alike, to surrender or starve.
There is not yet an Arab regional human rights court with jurisdiction over Syria.