Free Syrian Lawyers Association is conducting a field study on..

The Judicial Situation in Syria

The desire to establish a society based on justice and the rule of law was one of the most important factors that contributed to raising the Syrian revolution in 2011, with the increasing military strength of the armed factions and the liberation of many areas throughout Syria, the Syrian regime ceased working in various government departments, such as courts and judicial authorities, causing widespread chaos and stopped the people’s daily transactions in those areas.

And because of the revolutionary forces desire to provide security and resolve disputes between citizens and manage their affairs, they formed alternative judicial bodies instead of the regime courts, and these judicial bodies initially appeared in the form of legislative committees to raise the cases before them in accordance with the provisions of Islamic Sharia, but people who were supervisors for these committees did not have experience in judicial work, and these committees did not have a clear work strategy, and therefore were unable to meet the needs of the society. This led most of civil and military authorities to form official courts that deal with all cases and settle disputes that may arise in between Individuals.

Despite the evolution of these courts and their adoption of a more organized structure, they have different courtrooms (civil – penal – personal affairs), each dealing with specific types of cases, in addition to adopting the principle of two – levels litigation in most courts, but these courts being under the authority of the military factions in financial, administrative and executive aspects, prevented the existence of a unified judicial authority that includes all the courts operating in each region. This resulted in different laws applied in each court and the litigation proceedings before it, finally resulting in destabilizing the judicial work.

In order to understand the work of the judicial bodies in the liberated areas, this study was conducted to identify the most prominent cases before these courts and the laws applied therein, the extent of the people’s knowledge of these laws and the procedures of litigation and their satisfaction with the judgments issued and their ability to appeal them.

The study included the governorates of Idlib, Aleppo, Hama, Dara’a, Quneitra and the northern Homs rural region, and this study was conducted by targeting a random sample of 950 people both males and females, and collecting data using a special questionnaire with closed and open-ended questions. In-depth interviews were conducted with a number of experienced court judges and lawyers, using a directory of open-ended questions.

The study concluded a list of results, and showed that the absence of clear and specific laws to be adopted when considering the cases in question, especially the courts that adopt the rules of Islamic jurisprudence, in that case, judgements varies according to the each judge’s understanding of those rules, in addition to the lack of previous knowledge of the majority of people about the law applied in these courts, and their inability to access written and codified versions of those laws, and they do not know the names of the judges in charge of their cases.

Accordingly, several recommendations were made, including the need to work on codifying the legal rules adopted by the judicial bodies. We also recommend that the legal rules stipulated in the Syrian law, whether related to the subject or contained in the Civil and Penal suits laws, should be adopted, knowing that these laws do not conflict with the values, objectives and principles of the Syrian revolution, and do not conflict with the provisions of Islamic law

The Judicial Situation in Syria