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Public Statement

AI Index:                          MDE 24/060/2005    (Public)

News Service No:           211                                                                    

4 August 2005

  Syria: Time to make human rights a reality in Syria

The UN Human Rights Committee issues recommendations to Syria

Amnesty International today called on the Syrian authorities to immediately take steps towards the full implementation of the recommendations of the United Nations Human Rights Committee (HRC). The recommendations were released last week following the Committee’s consideration of Syria's third periodic report concerning its implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

                      Prior to the consideration of Syria’s state report, Amnesty International submitted written briefings to the Committee focusing its concerns on: discrimination and violence against women; the state of emergency legislation; the death penalty; torture and ill-treatment, arbitrary arrest and detention; unfair trials; restrictions of the rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association; and discrimination against Syrian Kurds (please see Memorandum [February 2005] and Update [June 2005] to the HRC, AI Index, MDE 24/047/2005 and MDE 24/048/2005, both made public on 18 July 2005).

                      In its concluding observations the HRC regretted that the recommendations it had addressed to Syria in 2001 had not been taken fully into consideration by the authorities and that most of its previous concerns remain.

                      The HRC expressed its concern over many areas including: the continued state of emergency for over 40 years, the use of the death penalty that is not consistent with the ICCPR, the extensive limitations on the right to freedom of opinion and expression and on the right to peaceful assembly, discrimination and violence against women, and the targeting of human rights defenders.

                      The HRC issued 15 recommendations to the Syrian authorities, including to:

take immediate steps to establish an independent and credible commission of inquiry into all disappearances in line with the recommendations the Committee made in 2001;

take firm measures to stop the use of incommunicado detention and eradicate all forms of torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment;

immediately release all persons detained because of their activities in the field of human rights and end all harassment and intimidation of human rights defenders;

review existing laws in order to ensure equality between men and women;

revise legislation to ensure that any limitations on the right to freedom of opinion and expression are consistent with the ICCPR; and

ensure that all members of the Kurdish minority enjoy effective protection against discrimination and are able to enjoy their own culture and use their own language.

                      The fact that Syria acceded to other international human rights instruments in the reporting period - including the Migrant Workers Convention, the Convention against Torture, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and the two Optional Protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child -  was welcomed by the HRC but, on the basis of the lack of implementation of the ICCPR, Amnesty International is concerned that the Syrian authorities may not be prepared to make a reality of the human rights contained therein either.

To see the HRC’s full concluding observations please go to:

To See Amnesty International’s Submissions on Syria to the Human Rights Committee go to:

The articles published on this site represent the opinion of their writers and not the opinion of the webmasters.