Roundtable Discussion - Human Rights Lawyers and Defenders in Syria: A Watershed for the Rule of Law, 2011

July 2011, London

On Thursday 28 July 2011, the International Bar Association's Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI)  launched its fact-finding report on Syria, Human Rights Lawyers and Defenders in Syria: a Watershed for the Rule of Law, with a discussion on the main findings and conclusions of the report.

The panel discussed the many obstacles faced by human rights defenders and NGOs working in Syria. Under Law 93 on Private Association, the Syrian authorities make it a practical impossibility to register human rights organisations; human rights defenders 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. Panelists described the meetings held with the Ministry of Justice and the Ministy of Social Affairs and reported on the IBAHRI recommendations on how the Ministries may contribute positively to enhancing independence of the judiciary.

The panel also considered their meetings with the Syrian Bar Association. Delegates emphasised the 'noble' and 'brave' heritage of the organisation, with an earlier generation of leaders upholding the rule of law. The report invites the Syrian Bar Association to affirm through deeds that it values its current status in the international legal community. A full list of conclusions and recommendations may be found in the report, click here.

The discussion was followed by questions from the audience.


Dr Phillip Tahmindjis IBAHRI Co-Director

Dr Abdel Salam Sidahmed Mission rapporteur; Associate Professor, Political Science Department, University of Windsor, Canada
Mr Sadakat Kadri Mission delegate; Associate Barrister at Doughty Street Chambers
Mr Michael Lynn Mission delegate; Barrister, Ireland


Watch film of the roundtable discussion:




Interview with Sadakat Kadri, mission delegate Interview with Dr Abdel Salam Sidahmed, mission rapporteur


Watch BBC TV Arabic interviews with IBAHRI Co-Director, Phillip Tahmindjis and
IBAHRI mission rapporteur Abdel Salam Sidahmed



Phillip Tahmindjis,
IBAHRI Co-Director  (in Arabic)
Abdel Salam Sidahmed, Associate Professor, Political Science Department, University of Windsor, Canada (in Arabic)