The Constitutional Committee Concludes the Second Day of the Eighth Session

The Constitutional Committee’s Small Body concluded the work of the second day of the Eighth Session on Tuesday 31 May. During the two sessions of meetings between the three delegations, the principle of “maintaining and strengthening State’s institutions”, which was presented by the regime delegation, was discussed along with the proposed constitutional language thereof.

During the sessions of the second day, which were chaired by Mr. Hadi Albahra, the Co-chair of the Constitutional Committee, several interventions were made criticizing the paper, its details and shortcomings. The SNC delegation made numerous reservations on the paper presented by the regime delegation, including that it did not mention commitment of state institutions and the army to human rights, as well as ignoring the neutrality of the army and the armed forces in the political life, and organizing the army structure.

Tarek Al Kurdi, member of the constitution drafting committee of the Constitutional Committee, said that “the interventions made by the SNC delegation criticized the proposed paper, thus irritating the regime’s delegation. They stressed that the constitution should put controls on the work of Syria’s future institutions in all sectors, including the army and security, and the importance of reforming and restructuring state institutions, including the army and security services, and constitutionally controlling their work, as well as adding the aspect of human rights in order not to repeat the tragedy Syria has gone through in the past eleven years.
“We should not forget also that the commitment to human rights is linked to transitional justice, which must be guaranteed after legalizing and constitutionalizing state agencies, including the army and security, and holding perpetrators of violations therein accountable. We are working on a constitution that sees the light after a political solution is achieved in accordance with UNSCR 2254 (2015), and the implementation of transitional justice. We are working on a constitution for the future Syria” Al Kurdi added.
The SNC delegation in the Small Body of the Constitutional Committee stressed in one of its interventions that fully addressing the legacy of gross violations of human rights “requires the adoption of a multi-faceted strategy that includes interventions at the levels of institutions, law, civil society, groups and individuals alike. Such strategy will not be valid without reforming state institutions in order to improve their performance and enhance their legitimacy. The pursuit of redress, accountability and prevention is a matter of high importance.”

It added that “Public institutions – such as the police, the military and the judiciary – are often tools of repression and systematic violations of human rights in societies experiencing conflict or under authoritarian rule. Once a political agreement is reached that secures the transition to peace and democratic governance, reform of those institutions becomes a necessity. However, the experience over many years has shown that the limited focus on the institutions directly concerned with physical attacks is not sufficient and does not do any good. Therefore, there is a need to reform all state agencies and to put in place appropriate mechanisms to monitor them, in order to guarantee their professional independence. This requires to revisit a large portion of the legal framework in place, on top of which comes the new constitution. In addition to the above, reforming justice sector and security agencies is complemented by the radical changes that should take place in the political, economic, social and cultural institutions, if the society is resolved to thoroughly address the perpetrated violations, including economic and social ones.”
The SNC delegation stressed that institutional reform “is a process whereby state institutions are reviewed and restructured in order to respect human rights, preserve the rule of law and be accountable to citizens.”

It also stressed that “institutional reform is interconnected with transitional justice, and institutional reform is even considered one of the transitional justice processes. This leads to recognition of victims as citizens and rights holders, and to building trust between all citizens and their public institutions. This reform, if conducted in a transparent and inclusive manner, becomes a reparation as well. Therefore, measures to help advance institutional reform can include public education campaigns on citizens’ rights and freedom of access to information, as well as meaningful counseling to victims and civil society representatives on legal initiatives.”

The agenda for the Eighth Session of the Constitutional Committee’s meetings include in the third day, Wednesday, discussing the principle of “the supremacy of the Constitution and the position of international treaties” to be presented by the SNC delegation.

According to the rules of procedures, every day one of the parties shall introduce one of the constitutional principles whose titles are agreed on, while other parties propose language, recommendations and amendments on the proposed principles.

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