Syria Anti-Torture Law Issued 35 Years After the Convention against Torture Went Effective
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On 30 March 2022, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad issued Law No. 16 of 2022, criminalizing torture. According to the Syrian Presidency’s Facebook account, the Anti-Torture law has been issued in compliance with the “Constitutional obligations of the Syrian State, which prohibit torture” and with the Convention against Torture of 1984, to which the government of the Syrian Arab Republic acceded on August 19, 2004— the Syrian Government (SG) is compelled to abide by all the Convention’s provisions owing to its status as a signatory State.
Notably, this Anti-Torture Law has been issued nearly 18 years after the SG acceded to be a State Party to the convention, and over 35 years after the Convention entered into force, on 26 June 1987.
The Convention was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly, and opened for signature, ratification, and accession by resolution 39/46 of 10 December 1984. Currently, there are 173 States Parties to the Convention.
On 1 July 2004, the SG issued Legislative Decree No. 39, approving the accession of the Syrian Arab Republic to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, by which Syria became legally bound by the Convention’s provisions. However, the SG evaded the responsibilities entailed by membership, because it did not incorporate the provisions of the Convention into its national laws, providing no relevant legal texts.