Syria: Demonstrations law, 2011

On April 21, 2011, in the face of widespread demonstrations, President Bashar al-Assad issued a decree ending Syria's 48-year state of emergency wich restricted public gatherings. At the same time, he issued another decree permitting but controlling demonstrations.

The text below waspublishedby the official Syrian news agency, Sana. For a critique of the law, seeal-bab's blog.

Legislative Decree No. 54 Regulating Right to Peaceful Demonstration

21 April 2011

President al-Assad issued legislative decree No. 54 regulating the right to peaceful demonstration, as one of basic human rights guaranteed by the Syrian Constitution.

The legislative decree provides for the following:

Article 1:

a - The Ministry: Interior Ministry.

b - Demonstration: the gathering of some people and peacefully took to the public place or street, to express their opinion or have demands or protest against something.

c - Organizing side: the party which calls for peaceful demonstration.

d - Committee: the committee responsible for organizing the demonstration.

Article 2:

a - Regulating the right to peaceful demonstration, as one of the basic human rights guaranteed by the Syrian Constitution.

b - Preserving balance between the citizens' safety and exercising their right to peaceful demonstration, in addition to enabling the public authorities to protect public and private funds and properties and to maintain order.

Article 3:

Duly licensed citizens, civil and popular organizations and trade unions have the right to organize demonstrations in accordance with the Syrian Constitution's principles and laws.

Article 4:

Forming a specialized committee at the Ministry whose mission is to consider the license applications for organizing demonstrations.

Article 5:

a. Those who want to organize a demonstration have to:

1 - Form a committee to submit the request to the ministry for consideration, at least 5 days prior the scheduled date. The request should include the demonstration date, starting time, the gathering place, its course, ending time, goals, causes and slogans.

2 - Provide a notarized document in which the committee pledges to take responsibility for all damages that may affect the public and private properties.

b. The Ministry should provide a written reply to the request within a week of receipt of the request. In case, the Ministry didn't reply, it is considered as an approval to give the licence for demonstration. If the request is rejected, it must be reasoned.

c. The rejection decision can be appealed to the Administrative Court, which has to decide on the appeal in a week, with a final decision.

Article 6:

a. The Ministry, in cooperation with the organizing committee, has the right to change the demonstration date, starting and ending time, the gathering place or its course if any of them affect the State's interests or threaten the citizens' safety and properties. This must be done at least 24 hours prior to the protest's starting time.

b. The administrative party should undertake protecting the demonstration and providing assistance when needed according to the laws and regulations in force.

Article 7:

The organizing committee consists of a chairman and two members at least. The committee should maintain order during the demonstration. It can call upon the police for help if needed.

Article 8:

The Ministry has the right to end the demonstration if it exceeds what is permitted in the license or if riots or crimes are committed that may affect the general order or impede the authorities' work.

Article 9:

a. No one is allowed to carry a weapon during the demonstration even if he has a licence.

b. According to the legislative decree, sharp or piercing instruments or any instruments which threaten the citizens' safety are considered a weapon.

Article 10:

Other gathering or rallies organized contrary to the articles of this legislative decree are considered riot acts.

Article 11:

Relevant provisions in the valid laws and regulations are taken into consideration in cases not mentioned in this decree.

Article 12:

The Interior Minister is responsible for issuing the executive instructions related to this decree.

Article 13:

The legislative decree is published and goes into effect starting from the date of its issuance.