Syria fact-finding mission, 2011

An IBAHRI delegation travelled to Syria in March 2011, following a previous visit by the IBAHRI in 2010. The Mission aimed to examine the independence of the legal profession and courts in Syria in relation to the treatment of human rights defenders and lawyers.

The IBAHRI delegation reached Syria the same week as popular unrest started to spread across the country During the mission the delegation held meetings with a wide range of government officials, non-governmental organisations, individuals and members of the Syrian legal profession.

Following the mission the IBAHRI released a report detailing the findings, conclusions and recommendations of the delegation. The report documents the repression of freedoms of the people in Syria and of those trying to assert them; examples of political interference in the courts; and an overall lack of judicial independence in the country.

The 140-page IBAHRI Report, entitled Human Rights Lawyers and Defenders in Syria: A Watershed for the Rule of Law, highlights the clampdown on the human rights of Syria’s citizens and the work of human rights activists. They are subject to intense scrutiny and harassment by security officials, are prevented from holding meetings, and banned from travelling abroad. The Syrian authorities are using broad provisions of the Penal Code such as ‘weakening the national sentiment’, to prosecute those who speak out against the state. Further, under Law 93 on Private Association, the Syrian authorities make it a practical impossibility to register human rights organisations, denying people access to the professional support of non-governmental organisations, and exposing individuals operating as part of an unregistered organisation to criminal charges.

The IBAHRI Report makes specific recommendations to the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Social Affairs and the Syrian Bar Association. Read more

Download the mission report

Download the report in Arabic