COMMITTEE ON THE ELIMINATION
OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION
OF REPORTS SUBMITTED BY STATES PARTIES
UNDER ARTICLE 9 OF THE CONVENTION
observations of the Committee on the
Elimination of Racial Discrimination
1. The Committee considered
the twelfth, thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth periodic reports of
the Syrian Arab Republic (CERD/C/338/Add.1/Rev.1) at its 1319th and 1320th
meetings (CERD/C/SR.1319-1320), held on 10 and 11 March 1999. At its 1332nd
meeting (CERD/C/SR.1332), held on 19 March 1999, it adopted the following
2. The Committee welcomes
the twelfth, thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth periodic reports submitted
by the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic in one document and the
introductory presentation made by the delegation as well as the opportunity
thus offered to recommence its dialogue with the State party after eight
years. Nevertheless, the Committee regrets that the report did not follow
the guidelines; the information was too concise and did not take into
consideration the Committee's concluding observations relating to the
previous report of the State party for the submission of a comprehensive
report. The Committee expresses its appreciation for the constructive
dialogue with the delegation and the additional information provided in
response to the questions asked.
B. Factors and difficulties impeding the implementation
of the Convention
3. The Committee notes that
the State party, as a result of the Israeli occupation of part of its
territory, is not in a position to exercise control over all its territory
and consequently cannot ensure the implementation of the Convention in
the Golan Heights. The Committee also takes note of the difficulties caused
by the fact that the State party has hosted a great number of refugees
for several decades. It is also noted that the state of emergency, which
continues to be in force in the State party, militates against the unrestricted
implementation of some of the provisions of article 5 of the Convention.
C. Positive aspects
4. The Committee expresses
its satisfaction at the fact that the international conventions to which
the State party has acceded, including the International Convention on
the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, have become an
integral part of its domestic legislation and are binding on the judicial
and other authorities of the State.
5. Efforts made by the State
party to host Palestinian refugees, of whom 351,189 have been registered,
and letting them retain their identity are also noted with satisfaction.
6. The Committee notes with
satisfaction that the State party's Penal Code (arts. 305, 307 and 109)
reflects most of the provisions enshrined in article 4 of the Convention.
7. The Committee welcomes
the information contained in the report concerning educational measures
which provide for the inclusion of the teaching of human rights, including
the need to combat and condemn racial discrimination, in school curricula.
Satisfaction is also expressed in relation to the efforts undertaken by
the State party to raise awareness and promote action against all forms
of racial discrimination; the Committee notes, in this regard, the establishment
of a human rights committee in every school in order to promote the principles
of tolerance and peaceful coexistence among different ethnic groups in
the State party.
8. The Committee also notes
with satisfaction that the State party has ratified the amendments to
article 8, paragraph 6, of the Convention, adopted on 15 January 1992
at the Fourteenth Meeting of States Parties to the Convention.
D. Principal subjects of concern
9. While the Committee acknowledges
the State party's efforts to protect the rights of ethnic national minorities,
particularly Armenians, Palestinians and Jews, it is still concerned about
the stateless status of a large number of persons of Kurdish origin, who
are alleged to have entered the Syrian Arab Republic from neighbouring
countries from 1972 to 1995 and who are said to number 75,000.
10. The Committee is concerned
about Syrian-born Kurds, who are considered either as foreigners or as
maktoumeen (unregistered) by the Syrian authorities and who face
administrative and practical difficulties in acquiring Syrian nationality,
although they have no other nationality by birth.
E. Suggestions and recommendations
11. The Committee encourages
the State party to continue to explore ways of providing protection to
all ethnic or national groups living in the Syrian Arab Republic and recommends
that the State party include in its next report data on the ethnic composition
of the population and on persons residing in the Syrian Arab Republic
who are non-Palestinian refugees. Information on their socio-economic
situation would also be appreciated.
12. In the light of article
3 of the Convention and General Recommendation XIX, the Committee encourages
the State party to monitor developments which may give rise to racial
segregation and to work for the eradication of any negative consequences
that ensue from such developments.
13. In order to be able to
evaluate the implementation of articles 4 and 6 of the Convention, the
Committee requests the State party to present information on the number
of complaints, judgements and compensation awards arising from acts of
14. The Committee recommends
further action to protect the rights of all persons belonging to ethnic
and national groups to enjoy, without discrimination, the civil and political
rights listed in article 5 of the Convention, notably the right to nationality
and cultural self-expression. In particular, the Committee recommends
that the State party review its legislation on nationality in order to
find an expeditious solution to the situation of Syrian-born Kurds and
refugee children born in the Syrian Arab Republic.
15. The Committee recommends
that the State party undertake preventive measures, such as training programmes
for law enforcement officials and security authorities, which will strengthen
the implementation of the Convention, in accordance with article 7 of
the Convention and General Recommendation XIII of the Committee, with
a view to preventing human rights violations such as arbitrary arrests,
detention, and disappearances of stateless refugees and foreigners.
16. Some members of the Committee
requested that the State party consider the possibility of making the
declaration provided for in article 14 of the Convention.
17. The Committee recommends
that the State party's next periodic report, due on 21 May 2000, be a
comprehensive report, following the reporting guidelines established by
18. The Committee suggests
to the State party that the report and the present concluding observations
be widely distributed to the public.