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The human rights record of the Syrian Arab Republic has been evaluated by a number of different sources. The state of human rights in Syria is among the worst in the world as reported by the US State Department. Political rights reflect the one-party rule of Syria's Ba'ath Party, which is constitutionally designated as the ruling party. A state of emergency has been in effect since 1963. Human Rights in Syria remains one of the worst in the region and there have been no effort made by the government to address any of them.

The Assad regime significantly restricts freedom of speech, press, assembly, and association.



According to the U.S. State Department’s 2004 report on human rights, Syria’s human rights record remains poor. A state of emergency has been in effect since 1963. Security forces continue to commit numerous and serious human rights abuses including arbitrary arrest and detention, torture in detention, prolonged detention without trial, fundamentally unfair trials in the security courts, and infringement on privacy rights. Police and security forces are corrupt. Prison conditions are poor and do not meet international standards for health and sanitation. The regime significantly restricts freedom of speech, press, assembly, and association. Kurds suffer systematic discrimination. After a brief period in 2000–2001 known as Damascus Spring, during which time independent debating clubs were established, satellite dishes became much more prominent, Internet cafés opened, new independent print publications were established, and political detainees from across the political spectrum were released, Decree No. 50/2001 was passed, which places severe restrictions on the media, especially the print media. According to Arab Press Freedom Watch, the current regime has one of the worst records on freedom of expression in the Arab world.

Political prisoners

Syria continues to attract criticism from human rights groups and foreign governments for its detention practices. Groups that are typically targeted include the Muslim Brotherhood, unauthorized Kurdish political organizations, the Hizb al-Tahrir Islamic Liberation Party, the pro-Iraqi Baath Party, and Islamic activists with suspected al Qaeda links. While scores are simply detained incommunicado and without trial others are tried under conditions that do not rise to the level of internationally-accepted norms for fair trials.[1]

In their 2006 country report, Human Rights Watch reported on the continued detention of "thousands" of political prisoners, "many of them members of the banned Muslim Brotherhood and the Communist Party." They also cited the estimation of the Syrian Human Rights Committee that there are 4,000 political prisoners currently held in Syrian jails.[2]

On December 13, 2006, US President Bush decried [1] the Syrian government's record saying "The Syrian regime should immediately free all political prisoners, including Aref Dalila, Michel Kilo, Anwar al-Bunni, Mahmoud Issa, and Kamal Labwani. I am deeply troubled by reports that some ailing political prisoners are denied health care while others are held in cells with violent criminals."

Lebanese prisoners

Bush also said "Syria should disclose the fate and whereabouts of the many missing Lebanese citizens who 'disappeared' following their arrest in Lebanon during the decades of Syrian military occupation. The Syrian regime should also cease its efforts to undermine Lebanese sovereignty by denying the Lebanese people their right to participate in the democratic process free of foreign intimidation and interference."

Past Detentions

Syria has, to date, not addressed past detentions of thousands of "disappeared" political activists. Human Rights Watch has estimated that 17,000 political activists have been "disappeared" over the last 35 years in Syria.[3]

Political rights

In 2005, the mainly US government funded Freedom House rated political rights in Syria as "7" (1 representing the most free and 7 the least free rating), civil liberties as "7" and gave it the freedom rating of "Not Free".[4]

Freedom of religion

The Constitution provides for freedom of religion; however, the Government imposes restrictions on this right. While there is no official state religion, the Constitution requires that the president be Muslim and stipulates that Islamic jurisprudence is a principal source of legislation. The Constitution provides for freedom of faith and religious practice, provided that the religious rites do not disturb the public order. The Government continued to monitor the activities of all groups, including religious groups, and discouraged proselytism, which it deemed a threat to relations among religious groups. The Government also continued to discriminate against the Jehovah's Witnesses. There were occasional reports of minor tensions between religious groups, some attributable to economic rivalries rather than religious affiliation.[5]

See also

References and footnotes

External links



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