Previously in this series I presented an internal document outlining the plan of the structure of the courts of the Dar al-Adl ('Abode of Justice'), which was the main judicial authority in rebel-held areas of Deraa and Quneitra in southern Syria prior to summer 2018, when the areas were retaken by the Syrian government and its allies. Now I turn to another internal document that outlines in more detail the system of judicial authority that was envisioned in the Dar al-Adl.
The document here is also largely self-explanatory so I present the original with translation. One highlight of interest in my view is the adoption of the Unified Arab Code 'in what concords with the rulings of the Islamic Shari'a.' For context, the Unified Arab Code, which combines civil and Islamic laws, constitutes a 'set of legal codes that the Arab League's Council of Ministers of Justice produced and endorsed, but which were never put in force in any Arab country.' The adoption of the Unified Arab Code within some rebel-held areas was occurring as far back as late 2012. Throughout the war, jihadist factions have rejected its authority on the grounds that it does not fully implement the Shari'a. Also of importance in the document is the emphasis on judicial independence, though stipulations in documents are one thing, practices on the ground another thing. Further, it should be noted that the Dar al-Adl system barred non-Muslims from becoming judges.
Below is the document in translation.
The Law of Judicial Authority in the Dar al-Adl in Hawran
Dar al-Adl in Hawran: Central Court
The Dar al-Adl exercises the right in applying the Shari'i rulings and the laws and judicial systems and supervising the courts and organising their administrative works in the limits of the law and suggesting the appointment of the judges of ruling and the public prosecution to the Supreme Judicial Council.
The Unified Arab Code is implemented in the Dar al-Adl in what concords with the rulings of the Islamic Shari'a.
The judicial offices are composed of:
1. The Supreme Judicial Council
2. Court of Cassation
3. Civil Appellate Court
4. Criminal Court
5. Correctional Court
6. Civil Court
7. Personal Affairs Court
8. Implementation Court
9. Public Prosecution
The courts in their varying degrees judge on all cases put before them in the limits of their specialisation except what is exempted by special stipulation and the rulings are to be issued in the form that the law establishes.
The courts are obliged to openness of sessions and oral arguments unless the law permits the contrary of that.
The judicial fees and insurances are to be symbolic and in accordance with the principle of the freeness of the judiciary.
The degrees of the courts and their formations and their specialisations.
The Supreme Judicial Council: composed of five members headed by the head of the Dar al-Adl or his deputy in case of his absence and they are by virtue of their position:
1. Head of the Dar al-Adl and his deputy in case of his absence as head.
2. Head of the Court of Cassation as a member.
3. Head of the Appellate Court as a member.
4. Replacement judge made deputising for the head of the Appellate Court as a member.
5. The most experienced head of the Criminal Proceedings Room as a member.
6. Head of the Central Civilian Court as a member.
7. Heads of the branch courts as a member.
The Supreme Judicial Council holds its meetings in a secret sense and issues its decisions by majority.
The council is concerned with establishing the appointment of judges and promoting them and transferring them and removing them on the basis of suggestion from three members and overseeing the independence of the judiciary. It is also concerned with considering the complaints submitted against judges from litigants and considering the cases that are referring to the council for review of them in accordance with a request from the head of the Dar al-Adl when the opportunities to challenge them have been used up and they have importance in judicial impartiality.
The council appointments one of its members as judicial inspection who should have the greatest expertise to undertake the inspection on courts and the decisions and judicial procedures after determination on the cases and the administrative and professional affairs. The inspection also concerns the following matters:
1. Independence of the judiciary from any external influence.
2. Persistence of the judges and judiciary employees and their professional competencies, and their conduct in terms of work performance or showing something that does not comport with the respect of the judiciary and employment.
3. The efforts of the judges in determining cases and the efforts of the public prosecution in mobilising and following up criminal cases.
4. The administration of the courts and complete modesty towards litigants.
5. Works of record and their procedure in accordance with the law and organising the registers and preserving the documents and papers in a way that guarantees their safety.
6. Fulfilment of fees and recording them in an organised way that concords with the systems and instructions.
7. Implementation of the rulings issued by the courts.
The inspector has the right per the implementation of his mission to:
1. Enter the judicial offices and review the records, registers, cases and rulings and that is in order to verify criminality or professional violation in accordance with a written complaint or an order from a higher authority.
2. Request survey of the works of the judicial offices.
3. Hold discussion with the judges and employees of the judicial offices whose offices he is inspection in matters that appear to him during the inspection.
4. Direct written questions to them in matters that were referred for inspection, and they are required to answer them.
5. Receive complaints that are submitted to them when he is undertaking his assignment and investigate them and seek help in the experts in the affairs where knowledge of them depends on technical expertise.
6. Inviting the one whose testimony he considers it necessary to listen to and the witness is required to answer the call.
7. Suggest the suspension of the judge and his referral to the judicial council and suspending the rest of the employees in the judicial offices in the circumstances that he considers dangerous on the condition that he should inform the authority concerned with their appointment of that immediately.
8. Suspension is to be considered cancelled in ruling and the employee can resume his work if within 15 days no decision has been issued from the relevant authority upholding the suspension.
The judges and heads of the judicial offices must facilitate the mission of the inspector and respond to him in all he requests to undertake his assignment and every obstruction or difficulty that is put before the inspector to hinder his undertaking of his work is to be considered a professional violation.
The inspector must submit a report about his work to the Supreme Judicial Council when he finishes his work and he may seek help in a relevant expert for financial accounts in cases that require that.
If it appears to the inspector when he is undertaking his work that one of the judges or employees has committed criminal action that the law punishes, he must inform the Public Prosecution about the committed criminal action immediately and must raise the leadership of the Supreme Judicial Council.
The head of the Supreme Judicial Council himself is responsible for inspection of the heads of the courts who are members in the council.
The inspector is responsible for inspection of the prison, verification of the legality of the detention, the implementation of the punishments and how the employees treat the persons present under their oversight as well as implementation of the principles of soundness and the internal systems upon them.
The Court of Cassation is composed of a head and two members from the judiciary as advisors and the head of the court is responsible for the procedure of the court and the administration of its affairs and overseeing the course of work in it. And the head exercises the competencies and missions entrusted to him by requirement of the law and in the event of his absence for any reason the highest-grade judge represents him, then the most experienced in this grade.
1. The Court of Cassation rules on challenges by means of annulment in rulings and decisions issued by the lower-grade courts.
2. It also rules on the conflict of specialisation, positively or negatively, between all the courts affiliated with the Dar al-Adl and on the transfer of the case in criminal, civilian and personal affairs matters.
3. It also rules on all other requests that come within its specialisation by virtue of the law.
4. The decisions of the Court of Cassation should be by the majority.
The Appellate Court is composed of a head and two members of the judges and the head of the court is responsible for the proceeding and administration of its affairs and supervising the organisation of the work in them.
And the Appellate Court is considered a second-grade court and is concerned with ruling on cases that are challenged by appeal and other cases that are of its specialisation by requirement of the law. And some of its decisions are ratified and some of them can be challenged by annulment in accordance with the law.
The rulings of the Appellate Court are issued by the head and the two advisors.
Criminal Court: rules on criminal cases that have been defined in the Unified Arab Penal Code. It is headed by a judge appointed by the Supreme Judicial Council with regard in him for expertise, experience and age. And it is possible for the Criminal Court to be divided into rooms, with a head appointed for each room of it, and its decisions are issued by three judges, one of whom is the head. And its decisions are subject to challenge by means of annulment before the Court of Cassation.
The Corrections Court: rules on misdemeanour cases as defined by the unified civil penal code, and it is headed by a judge appointed by the Supreme Judicial Council with regard in him for expertise, experience and age. And its decisions are issued by the misdemeanour judge, subject to challenge by annulment before the Court of Cassation.
The Civil Court: and it is composed of a number of judges headed by a judge appointed by the Supreme Judicial Council, and it rules on civil cases and its decisions are subject to challenge before the Appellate Court and some of the decisions are ratified in accordance with the law.
Personal Affairs Court: headed by a judge and concerned with cases of marriage, divorce, disbursement, inheritance and all cases of personal affairs as stipulated in the Arab law of personal affairs, and its decisions are subject to challenge before the Court of Cassation and some of them cannot be subject to challenge by annulment before the Court of Cassation in accordance with the law.
Office of Civil Implementation, headed by a judge of implementation, and it is concerned with the implementation of the rulings issued by all the courts that have acquired definitive grade with regard in the procedures of implementation for assurance of stability of transactions and the establishment of balance between the interest of the creditor in the requirement of his right and the interest of the debtor.
Article Twenty Five:
Public Prosecution: headed by the head of the Dar al-Adl in his capacity as public prosecutor and he is assisted by a judge representing the Public Prosecution. To him are brought the tests, complaints and personal prosecution in crimes that are committed. And his goal is to investigate the crimes and refer them to the relevant courts and submit the public prosecution against those who commit the crimes and challenge the decisions issued by the criminal and misdemeanour courts for the interest of the public right. He must also observe the administrative matters for the courts and the prisons and deal with all the assignments and competencies entrusted to him in accordance with the law.
Required conditions for anyone who assumes responsibility of the judiciary:
1. To be male, Muslim and of Syrian nationality for more than 5 years.
2. To be of good record and conduct, and to be vouched for by a judge in the court, and not to be have preciously been removed from the Dar al-Adl for reasons that infringe on impartiality and compliance with the systems and instructions.
3. To have Shari'i competency and judiciary and to be sound from illnesses and diseases and sound of senses as require for his undertaking of the job of judiciary.
4. To be in possession of a university qualification in law or Islamic Shari'a or the equivalent on condition that he passes in the final case in a special exam set by the Supreme Judicial Council with no retroactive effect.
5. His age should not be less than 25 years if his appointment is in the courts of the first-grade, and his age should not be less than 30 years if his appointment is in the courts of the second-grade.
The appointed judge, before undertaking his work for the first time, must swear by the right-hand the following oath before the head of the Supreme Judicial Council:
'I swear by God Almighty to rule between the people with fairness and comply with the limits of the law and respect the laws and judicial systems.'
The Supreme Judicial Council is to consider the establishment of the transferred judge after the passing of six months as that is a probation period.
Judicial immunity: the protection of the judge from removal and transfer and all judges enjoy this.
Removal: removing the judge from service.
Transfer: the transfer of the judge from one court to another or from an employment defined in the appointment decision to another employment except in accordance with his request and the agreement of the Supreme Judicial Council.
Exempted from immunity from removal are the judges over whom six months since their appointment in the judiciary have not passed and it is not allowed to mobilise a case of the public right against the judges except in cases of deliberate, intentional error and case of witnessed criminality.
The obligations of the judges:
1. It is not allowed for the judge to combine judicial work with any other work that has negative impacts on the work of the judiciary whether it is incidental work that the judge undertakes himself or by means, if this work harms the judge's performance or is not in accordance with what the position of the judiciary requires.
2. It is not allowed for the judge without the agreement of the Supreme Judicial Council to be an arbitrator even without pay and even if the dispute is not put before the judiciary.
3. It is not allowed for the judge to divulge the secrecy of discussions.
4. It is not allowed for there to be brought together in one court ruling judges and prosecutors connected with each other by in-law relationship or kinship of the fourth degree or lower.
5. It is not allowed for the judge to be absent from the base of his work before informing the authority connected with it and he cannot cut himself off from his work for an unjustified reason without a leave permit.
6. Every violation of the obligations of the judge is considered a professional lapse requiring his referral to the Supreme Judicial Council.
7. The seniority of the judiciary is defined by decision issued by the Supreme Judicial Council with regards in that for the experience of the judge in the judiciary or litigation and the level of his Shari'i and legal expertise and his age.
The professional consequences that can be imposed on the judge are:
1. Warning: warning the judge orally regarding his violation and affirming upon him not to repeat it.
2. Formal warning: warning the judge in writing including the type of violation committed by him and drawing his attention to avoiding the likes of it.
3. Deduction from salary: and it is the deduction of a sum not exceeding 10% of the judge's monthly salary for a period no less than a month and no more than six months.
4. Transfer: a disciplinary punishment according to the judge's commission of a violation requiring his transfer to another place.
5. Separation: ending the judge's service and removal of his rights.
The professional consequences are to be imposed on the judges who violate their obligations and bring into disrepute by words, deeds or writings their personal dignity or the profession of the judiciary and its dignity, or they violate the rulings of the law and the laws and systems.
It is not allowed for the judge referred to the Supreme Judicial Council to be suspended except by decision from the council itself. And if the judge referred to the Supreme Judicial Council does not attend or there does not attend another judge representing him, it is allowed to rule in his absence and he has the right to oppose it for seven days from the day that follows the date of his notification. And his trial is to occur in a secret sense before the council.
In the crimes that the judges commit during their undertaking of the job and outside it, the case of public right is not to be established except by the Public Prosecutor and the personal claimant does not have the right to mobilise a case of public right in the crimes that the judge commits but rather he has the right to submit a complaint to the Public Prosecutor.
The law is subject to development in accordance with the developing circumstances and it is a temporary law for the judges of the Dar al-Adl because of the exceptional circumstances as there has not been regard in it for the rights of the judges for retirement, compensation and promotion.
The works of the departments and secretaries have been left for more organisation.
And God is the One behind the intention.
Dar al-Adl in Hawran.