"1. An objection may be lodged against decisions handed down
in absentia by military standing courts or single judges within a
period of five days beginning on the day following the date of notification
of the decision.
2. All decisions handed down by these courts shall be subject to appeal
in cassation unless otherwise explicitly stipulated."
33. In all cases, even when a decision is explicitly designated as not subject
to appeal, article 81 empowers the Minister of Defence to lodge an appeal
against the decision with the Court of Cassation. Article 15, paragraph
4, stipulates that decisions entailing the death penalty cannot be explicitly
designated as not subject to appeal since, in all cases, such judgements
are subject to appeal in cassation.
Paragraphs 18 and 20
34. The Personal Status Act promulgated in 1953 and amended by Act No. 34
of 1975 guarantees full equality between the spouses, before and during
marriage and upon its dissolution, in a manner consistent with article 2,
paragraphs 1 and 3, and article 26 of the Covenant. The statement concerning
the existence of discriminatory elements between the spouses is exaggerated
and unrealistic. Since the promulgation of the amendments in Act No. 34
of 1975, young women have the right to accept or refuse marriage, authority
within the family is shared between the spouses and either spouse can institute
divorce proceedings in view of the fact that anyone wishing to divorce merely
has to apply to the courts to obtain a separation order and, even if a husband
repudiates his wife unilaterally, this divorce does not take effect until
the matter has been brought before the courts and a divorce decree has been
35. The marriageable age to which the Committee referred in paragraph 20
of its observations should be viewed in the light of the following two facts:
(a) Marriage at the age of 15 for boys and 13 for girls requires the consent
not only of the father but also of the judge. The status of this judge,
who is the highest ranking Shariah judge (Chief Justice of the Shariah Courts)
in Syria, unquestionably ensures that the physical and mental condition
of the boy or girl is verified;
(b) In Islam, marriage is linked to the age of physical puberty, which differs
from one geographical environment to another. In countries with a hot climate
girls sometimes reach puberty at nine years of age, in contrast to countries
with a colder climate in which puberty is attained at a much later age.
36. Although puberty is a clear indication of both physical and mental maturity,
as already mentioned marriage at this age can take place only after the
highest ranking Shariah judge has studied the physical and mental condition
of the boy or girl in the light of medical reports.
37. At all events, it should be noted that the marriage of a girl between
the ages of 13 and 17 is an exceptional and rare occurrence.
38. In response to the Committee's request in paragraph 19, we will be providing
you, in our next report, with full information on the employment, remuneration
and level of responsibility of women in the public and private sectors.
However, we wish to draw the Committee's attention to the fact that, in
Syria, women enjoy the same constitutional, legal, political and social
rights as men. For example, they have the right to vote in public elections
and to stand as candidates for membership of all councils without exception.
Women have an unrestricted right to work, for which they receive remuneration
equivalent to that paid to men for the same type of work. The current policy
of the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic in regard to women is to take
all the necessary measures to promote their role in society and the State.
39. The Syrian authorities and the Syrian embassies abroad are taking all
the necessary measures for the renewal of Syrian passports when they expire.
Syrian embassies do not prevent any Syrian citizen from renewing his passport.
However, some Syrians residing abroad have administrative problems relating
to military service, financial or administrative obligations towards the
State or liabilities to others and are required to regularize their situation
vis-à-vis the competent administrative authorities in Syria. This does not
prevent the embassy from taking care of them and providing them with the
documents needed for their continued residence in the foreign country in
which they are living.
40. The Ministry of the Interior promulgated Ordinance No. 1016 of 13 November
1999, which considerably facilitates the procedures for the travel, departure
and return of Syrian citizens and the issue of passports and exit visas.
The Ministry of the Interior is currently studying further measures to facilitate
the travel of citizens in future.
41. However, it should be clearly understood that the purpose of the exit
visas needed by some citizens is not to restrict their freedom but solely
to ensure that criminals do not flee the country and that persons with financial
or administrative obligations do not evade the fulfilment of those obligations.
42. Decisions to expel aliens from Syria are considered very carefully by
the Ministry of the Interior. No alien is expelled unless, following a thorough
study of his case, it has been fully ascertained that his presence in Syria
would constitute a source of danger or concern for the country. As a safeguard
for aliens, the authority to issue expulsion orders is vested in the Minister
of the Interior in person.
43. Nevertheless, the law offers aliens two channels through which they
can appeal or protest against, and request annulment of, such orders issued
by the Minister of the Interior:
(a) The administrative channel, to which an alien can resort in order to
submit a complaint to the Minister of the Interior through one of our embassies
(b) The judicial channel, to which an alien can resort, after his complaint
has been rejected by the Minister of the Interior, in order to bring a legal
action before the Council of State for annulment of an expulsion order issued
by the Minister of the Interior.
44. Our Mission has already informed you that Mr. Nizar Nayyuf has been
released and now enjoys full freedom of expression and action.
45. We are surprised at the Committee's statement to the effect that the
activities of human rights defenders and of journalists are restricted,
since these persons enjoy full freedom, within the limits of the laws and
regulations in force, to publish whatever they wish without any restrictions.
46. We have already confirmed that the promulgation of Legislative Decree
No. 6 of 7 January 1965, concerning opposition to the aims of the revolution,
was necessitated by exceptional circumstances. That Legislative Decree was
promulgated in 1965 in conjunction with some socialist legislation in view
of the fear that an armed movement might be established to resist that legislation.
However, for reasons best known to the judiciary, that Legislative Decree
has not been applied since that time.
47. Accordingly, there is no justification for any concern regarding the
existence of that Legislative Decree, the allegations that the Committee
has received in this connection being totally unfounded.
48. There are no exceptional restrictions on the holding of public meetings
and demonstrations in Syria. The conditions for the authorization of public
assemblies are the usual conditions laid down in all countries of the world,
namely that the persons wishing to hold a meeting or demonstration must
request authorization from the competent authorities in an application specifying
the location, time and purposes of the meeting or demonstration and the
names of its organizers. This application is studied in the light of the
requirements of public order, public safety, public health and morals and
the rights of others. The Syrian authorities have never rejected an application
that was in conformity with the laws and regulations in force.
49. The proposed law on political parties will unquestionably be compatible
with the provisions of the Covenant and will dispel the concern expressed
by the Committee in paragraph 26.
50. With regard to paragraph 27, the Kurds who enter Syria from neighbouring
countries are shown special concern by the Syrian authorities, who endeavour
to solve their humanitarian, administrative and practical problems. Special
concern is also shown for Kurdish children born in Syria, who are treated
in the same way as Syrian citizens, without any discrimination or preference.
The Syrian authorities are making a very careful study of the situation
of these Kurds, taking into account all the circumstances that induce them
to enter and live in Syria.
51. We wish to assure the Committee that the second periodic report and
the Committee's observations will be disseminated widely in Syria.
52. Although, in this reply, we have answered all the questions raised by
the Committee in paragraph 29 of its observations, we wish to assure the
Committee that the Syrian Mission to the United Nations will keep it abreast
of any new developments relating to the matters that are giving rise to
its concern. We also confirm that the Mission will continue to cooperate
with the Committee in an objective manner conducive to the promotion of