Assad Issues a New Pardon Decree, That Keeps Most Prisoners of Conscience and political detainees absent in his prisons
This morning Bashar Al-Assad issued a legislative decree bearing number 6 for the year 2020. Although the authority to issue a general amnesty is vested in the Syrian Parliament in accordance with the 2012 constitution, however, the pardon decree was issued by the head of the executive authority ( head of the state) according to an exception, granted by the Syrian constitution in its article number 113. According to this article, the president of the republic is allowed to violate the principle of the separation of powers and exercise of legislative authority, going against all principles of democracy that have been established throughout history.
This decree is the second in the last six months, after the one that was issued in September 2019. Although it does not carry good news for most opinion and political detainees, but their relatives are searching for any ray of hope that would make their loved ones return to them.
Despite the many decrees issued since 2011, only a limited number of opinion and political detainees had benefited from them. The public prosecution specialized in Syrian Terrorism Court is well aware of the contents of these decrees, and therefore is always keen to include charges that fall within the list of exceptions that are stipulated in this pardon decree and its predecessors issued by Assad. The decrees make sure that the traditional list of charges issued by the terrorism court and other courts specialized in trying political and opinion detainees are not included.
In addition, a large number of detainees in Syria are referred to the Military Field Court, which lacks the conditions for fair trials. Furthermore, many of the detainees had been abcented forcibly, without the right to a fair trial.
All this comes in systematically by the Syrian authorities that hold prisoners in detention centers of the Syrian intelligence services or in secret and unofficial detention centers. These prisoners don’t benefit completely from these decrees, which have become traditional, often with a political goal, both internally and internationally. The latest update of records documenting cases of detention at the Syrian Center For Media And Freedom of Expression shows that the number has exceeded 90.000. True numbers might be more than double. Al-Assad issued this new decree, in the time families of detainees and disappeared expecting a responsible measure by the Syrian government that takes into account concerns about the spread of the coronavirus in detention centers and the very poor health conditions there, this new decree is not different from its predecessors except in very small details, which don’t give any hope to detainees of opinion in Syria. At the same time, ministries of justice and interior of the Syrian government do not provide any numbers nor categories of beneficiaries of the successive pardon decrees.
Mazen Darwish, director of the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression, says: “All prisoners of conscience must be released immediately, the exceptions related to anti-terrorism laws should be cancelled. All prisons, including detention centers of the security services, secret and unofficial centers, should be accessible to relevant international and legal bodies. Also, a full commitment should be given to respect hygienic conditions and criteria in detention centers.”
Bodies that can pressure the Syrian government cannot stand idly in the face of its continued detention, enforced disappearance, and killing under torture as a systematic act in Syria, not to mention detention conditions that do not respect the minimum human rights or health standards.
To see the full text of the legal analysis (in Arabic) conducted by the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression, please visit the following link on the center’s website here
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