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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
05DAMASCUS5790 2005-11-02 15:03:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Damascus
Cable title:  

DISMISSAL OF SYRIAN JUDGES POORLY PLANNED, BADLY

Tags:   PGOV KJUS SY 
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					  C O N F I D E N T I A L DAMASCUS 005790 

SIPDIS

PARIS FOR ZEYA, LONDON FOR TSOU

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/02/2015
TAGS: PGOV KJUS SY
SUBJECT: DISMISSAL OF SYRIAN JUDGES POORLY PLANNED, BADLY
EXECUTED

REF: DAM 5433

Classified By: CDA Stephen A. Seche for reasons 1.4 b/d



1. (C) In the wake of the October dismissal of 81 judges on
corruption charges (reftel), Poloff spoke to Ghimar Deeb, a
Syrian lawyer who works as a legal consultant for UNDP in
Damascus. Deeb said there were two ways to view the
dismissals. From the average Syrian's perspective, the
dismissal of four percent of Syria's 2,125 judges was
long-needed and welcome, given the rampant corruption that
affects most people's daily life.



2. (C) From a legal perspective, however, the process used
to identify and dismiss the judges violated constitutional
norms, Deeb said. The Minister of Justice selected the
judges after visiting courts throughout Syria and listened to
word-of-mouth reports, Deeb said. (Note: We have heard from
other contacts that the SARG security services were also
involved in investigating judges and contributing names to
the list.) At a separate meeting with Charge and PolChief,
Deeb also noted that the subsequent decree dismissing the
judges, which was signed by President Bashar al-Asad,
violated the process for such dismissals contained in the
Syrian Constitution, and left judges without a way to appeal
their cases or plead that errors had been made. Deeb
highlighted the case of one dismissed judge, whom he knew
well, who was an elderly man from Latakkia, until recently
serving as a lower court judge in Damascus. Deeb said the
man was honest and of very modest means, taking the bus to
work every day.



3. (C) Despite questions about the process, the public was
so fed up with corruption that it that it would probably
welcome further dismissals, said Deeb, noting that the
government could also justly disbar "hundreds" of lawyers on
grounds of corruption. It is difficult to predict when
further dismissals might occur or which Syrian authority
would initiate such a move, Deeb said.



4. (C) Comment: We have heard other limited anecdotal
evidence that some of the 81 dismissed judges were not
corrupt and that the manner in which the dismissals took
place lacked transparency and due process. Like many
political and economic reform efforts undertaken during
Bashar al-Asad's term of office, this one bears the hallmark
of poor planning and execution, and has invited criticism --
often by the very reformers who had called for action -- that
the specific steps taken included ill-advised aspects and
uncertain prospects for enhancing real reform. (Note: Deeb
graduated in 1995 with a law degree from the University of
Damascus and worked as an assistant public prosecutor from
1996 to 1997.)
SECHE