Thursday, April 18, 2024
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Thursday, April 18, 2024

Syrian Judge Hussen Hammadeh: A quester for justice

Judge Hussen Hammadeh

In 2012, Judge Hussen Hammadeh defected from the Syrian regime, unable to tolerate any longer the criminal behavior of the government against its own people. With a Bachelor’s degree in Law from Damascus University that he had acquired in 1980, young Hammadeh joined the Syrian judiciary in February of 1982. By the time, he decided to leave his homeland 30 years later, Hammadeh had progressed to the rank of counselor at the Syrian Court of Cassation in Damascus, the highest court of appeals in the country. 

Judge Hammadeh was granted asylum in Germany after his defection and in 2013 was elected President of the Supreme Judicial Council of the Free Independent Syrian Judiciary and became a founding member of the National Gathering to Save Syria inside the liberated areas. In 2014, he was elected as a member of the Seven-Member Committee in the Revolutionary Forces Authority in Aleppo.

In 2020 he was elected to be President of the Executive Office of the National Association of Syrian Lawyers and is currently a member of the Administrative Committee in the Syrian National Assembly.

Recently SYRIAWISE had the pleasure of being able to speak to Judge Hammadeh from his home in Germany.

“future Syria must adhere to the principle of the separation of powers for it to become a democratic civil state, a state of law equally distant from all its citizens”

Judge Hussen Hammadeh

SYRIAWISE: In a future post-Assad Syria, would it be permissible for the President of the Republic to also be head of the judiciary and head of the Supreme Judicial Council (supreme court)? What changes must occur from the top down that would allow for the establishment of a civil democratic state where freedom and dignity prevail?

Judge Hammadeh: It is well known that democratic civil systems are based on the principle of the separation of powers (executive, legislative, and judicial). In Syria — according to the constitution — the President of the Republic is the head of the Supreme Judiciary Council, represented by the Minister of Justice, thus making the judiciary a body subordinate to one of the branches of the executive authority, namely the Ministry of Justice. Therefore, Syria after Assad must adhere to the principle of the separation of powers for it to become a democratic civil state, a state of law equally distant from all its citizens.

“I have no doubt that the authoritarian Syrian regime — sooner or later — will fall”

Judge Hussen Hammadeh

SYRIAWISE: What should be the role and mechanism of the judicial body? What are the legislations or basic conditions that should be in place in future Syria to ensure there is no future dictatorship? Would a strong judiciary be able to prevent a recurrence of what happened under the Assads in Syria?

Judge Hammadeh: The discussion about developing the judicial authority in Syria is closely linked to the existence, or absence of, a comprehensive legal system, including law.

SYRIAWISE: You’ve written recently that Syria is “in its final breath.” Do you have even a glimmer of hope to save Syria? Do you believe there may still be a solution for one last chance to revive the country?

Judge Hammadeh: I have no doubt that the authoritarian Syrian regime — sooner or later — will fall. On the other hand, I also have many doubts about the viability of the official political and military Syrian opposition. In many ways, they are worse than the Assad regime. When that time comes, we will need to have more options. In the face of this erroneous reality, national duty imposes on Syrian national democratic forces — parties, blocs, organizations, unions, civil society institutions, etc. — to emerge from a state of dispersion and work towards establishing a common entity from which a single leadership emerges, respected by Syrians and capable of dealing with the international community decisively and with mutual respect.

“My dream is to live for moments after the fall of the Assad regime and the establishment of a democratic national system in its place”

Judge Hussen Hammadeh

SYRIAWISE: You’ve lost many friends, relatives, and professional colleagues. Some were killed by Assad, some forcibly disappeared, and some left for other countries in despair. What does Judge Hussen Hammadeh wish for?

Judge Hammadeh: My dream is to live for moments after the fall of the Assad regime and the establishment of a democratic national system in its place.

SYRIAWISE: You’re living in Germany now but you still speak fondly of your homeland. Do you miss being able to return to your beloved neighborhood in Syria?

Judge Hammadeh: The problem is that all my friends have died, and that changed the geographical environment. Yet, I long to sit early on the balcony of my house, sipping my morning coffee. Oh, those were beautiful days in every way.

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