Human Rights Violations
Legislation and the Law
The law relating to the practice of medicine in the Syrian Arab Republic changed substantially in July 2012 with the introduction by the Assad Regime of anti-terrorism laws, which effectively criminalized any kind of medical assistance to those opposing the government or anyone associated with the opposition. These laws therefore compromised the 'Hippocratic Oath,' or its equivalent that doctors universally make when they are registered to practice; a vow made to provide medical assistance solely on the basis of need together with a promise to 'do no harm.' In Arabic this oath is called 'Kasan Abu Krat.' In order to retain their integrity as medical practitioners, many doctors chose to leave Syria at that point, or at least move to a 'liberated area.' Continuing to practice medicine while honouring internationally recognised medical ethics in Regime controlled areas attracts harsh penalties including routine imprisonment for three years, torture and sometimes death. This change in the law led to the extension in Regime policy to the targeting of medical facilities and all healthcare personnel that are suspected to be harbouring or treating those in the opposition.
In my interview with Mr Ebrahim Al Hajji, former President of the Court in Aleppo he explains the introduction of these laws and what it has meant in practice from a legal perspective. He goes on to outline the past and present legal systems operating in Syria, both within Regime controlled and liberated areas.