Justice, Tyranny, Reform of the Judiciary and Guaranteeing its Independence

The formula for stability Syria, since the early pre-crisis stages, had been based on a balance that combines security and stability of political power. Within this balance a lot of details that were considered “the guarantor” for continued stability have been dropped. A sense of injustice has manifested itself during the current crisis, and a demand for “justice” has strongly appeared, whether in opposition’s narrative or even in discussions regarding political reforms.

Practically speaking, some opposition factions se that corrupt have established relationships within the state to protect themselves, ensure their interests and hinder attempts by the negatively affected to restore their rights, which caused citizens to lose confidence in the state due to  their inability to regain their rights unless by become part of the corrupt system. According to some, this sense of injustice was a crucial element during objections and turbulences throughout the Syrian crisis.

However, the lack of fairness and the sense of injustice weren’t only the responsibility of the political power, according to another segment of Syrians, for the political authorities shares the responsibility with a “social system” that is intertwined with the “political system”.

Although it seems logical to blame the government for injustices, but it is insufficient, for  at the same time a need emerges to protect the rights of individuals and minorities against oppression by the majority (religious or ethnic), in order to overcome the prevailing emotions that result from the lack of justice.

There is certainly a need for a long-term, multi faceted vision for the issues of justice, but there is a priority for the issues of transitional justice, otherwise we would end with the victor’s justice, whose random practices are becoming manifested today. In this regard, it is worth mentioning the importance of focussing of the concept of the state of law, which is based on the principle of separating the three powers: the legislative, the executive and the judicial, in addition to protecting the rights of citizens under the ceiling of  the civic state that is governed by laws according to the constitution.

There are two points with regards to the issue of justice that specialists try to clarify:


There is confusion between rights and privileges. Many transactions between citizens and government departments are, in essence, not human rights, as they are classified as “privileges” and should be given to the people who deserve them (driving licences, import certificates and so on). A management of the process to obtain these privileges should be designed and developed (many countries around the world did so) for it to be effective and easy. Victims of injustice in these issues are victims of ineffective systems that suffer from procedural and regulatory dysfunctions. These terrible conditions breed corruption, cronyism and nepotism in all government sectors and committees.


In addition to implementing the principle of state authorities separation (legislative, executive and judicial), justice is based on good practice and implementation of the duties of these authorities. Judicial decisions that are issued by an independent judicial authority contribute to consolidating justice. In this domain, the independence of the judiciary is regarded as primary element in achieving democracies.

However, no matter how independent is the juridical system, there should also be the ability of effective law enforcement that is capable of creating a sense of the social equality among all citizens.

In Syria, the question of justice enforcement seems to be a complex issue that is not only related to the juridical authorities. For even if the judges were to be independent and judicial discretion was used to administrate justice, that question would still remain in how to make law applicable. Enforcing laws is mostly subject to the influence of the “power centres” in the government and society, which makes the judiciary ineffective. Therefore, underpinning the independence of the judiciary is not enough, but a search is also needed on means that are sufficient to implement law, which is the responsibility of the executive authorities.

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