Justice Minister Hisham al-Shaar said that the door was open for any judge who wanted to return to the judiciary after regularizing his status, even if they worked with armed groups, as in the end that judge is a Syrian citizen.
"The Syrian state has its doors open to every Syrian citizen and the ministry is part of the state. Therefore, if a judge returns is it reasonable for us to say, ‘We don’t want you’?” Shaar said in an interview with Al-Watan.
The minister added that there was corruption in the judiciary but that, “Corruption is not just in the judiciary but is very old and in every society. Corruption increases in times of war, and we know that Syria has been subjected to a war for more than six years, and this has manifested new types of crimes by weak-minded people.”
He said: “Most judges are serious. There are a proportion who are corrupt and it is difficult to specify them as they vary from one place to another, but in general there are a large number of judges who have fled from their areas and who live in difficult circumstances and do not own homes, and even with all that they are doing their jobs perfectly.”
According to Shaar, judges have been dismissed for erroneous behavior, considered to be severe professional errors. If it is shown that a judge committed a severe professional error, the council studies the case and after that decides whether he or she is innocent or whether they should be dismissed or given other punishments, such as delaying promotion or handed a fine, as the punishments vary depending on the error which the judge committed.
Regarding hotspot areas, he said that the ministry was working to activate committees to monitor the crimes carried out by militants, as it was a right of the citizen and the Syrian judiciary to carry out punishment of offenders.
Shaar added: "There is a difference between freedom of political opinion and those who incite terrorism and carry it out. The first is protected by the constitution while the second is a criminal act to destroy the country." Perpetrators must be held to account, he added.
Regarding the issue of missing persons, the minister said that there were no precise statistics about victims.
“We have a special office for missing persons to receive requests which we for our part are circulating to the relevant authorities and courts to receive an answer if a person is missing or is present and under investigation, or transferred to a relevant court. Sometimes we get a response that he had not been found and we are aware of the role of armed gangs in this field, and therefore not every person who is missing is with the public authorities,” he added.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.