Text: H.Con.Res.18 — 109th Congress (2005-2006)All Information (Except Text)

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Engrossed in House (03/17/2005)

[Congressional Bills 109th Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]
[H. Con. Res. 18 Engrossed in House (EH)]

  1st Session
H. CON. RES. 18


                         CONCURRENT RESOLUTION

Whereas the Syrian Arab Republic is governed by an authoritarian regime which 
        continues to commit serious human rights abuses, including the use of 
        torture and arbitrary arrest and detention;
Whereas the Department of State's Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 
        2004 states that Syria's ``human rights record remained poor, and the 
        Government continued to commit numerous, serious abuses'', the 
        government ``significantly restricts freedom of speech and of the 
        press'', ``freedom of assembly does not exist under the law'', and ``the 
        Government restricted freedom of association'';
Whereas Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that 
        ``Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression. This 
        right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to 
        seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and 
        regardless of frontiers.'';
Whereas Article 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that 
        ``Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and 
Whereas Syria's September 2001 press law permits the government to arbitrarily 
        deny or revoke publishing licenses for vague reasons and compels media 
        to submit all material to government censors;
Whereas Syrian authorities have arrested, or, in the case of foreigners, 
        expelled journalists for writing critically about Syria's policies;
Whereas Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have reported that the 
        security forces of Syria are targeting emerging Syrian human rights 
        organizations, as well as their attorneys, in an apparent attempt to 
        intimidate those organizations;
Whereas, on March 8, 2004, Syrian security forces arrested more than 30 human 
        rights dissidents and civilians at a sit-in in front of the parliament;
Whereas a United States diplomat who was watching the peaceful demonstrations 
        was also arrested and held for an hour in what the United States called 
        an unacceptable violation of diplomatic practice and which the United 
        States protested ``in the strongest terms'';
Whereas Article 7 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that ``All 
        are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to 
        equal protection of the law.'';
Whereas the criminal law of Syria provides for reduced sentences in cases of 
        ``honor'' killings, and spousal rape is not illegal;
Whereas the infringement by Syria on human rights and civil liberties extends 
        into the Lebanese Republic, which it continues to occupy in violation of 
        United Nations Security Council resolutions;
Whereas hundreds of Lebanese civilians are believed to have been killed or 
        ``disappeared'' by Syrian occupation forces or its secret police;
Whereas hundreds of Kurdish civilians were injured or killed in clashes with the 
        Syrian authorities in March 2004 in Qamishli, a city in northeastern 
        Syria, and Syrian security forces arrested and tortured Syrian Kurdish 
        civilians from the town of Al-Malikiyah on January 9, 2005;
Whereas Syrian authorities continue their harassment of Aktham Naisse, Syria's 
        leading human rights activist, President, and founding member of the 
        Committees for the Defense of Democratic Liberties and Human Rights in 
        Syria, and the 2005 winner of the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights 
        Defenders, one of the most prestigious awards in the global human rights 
        community, by charging him with spreading false information, forming an 
        underground association with links to international human rights groups, 
        and opposing the Baath Party;
Whereas, in November 2004, upon his release from prison, Kamal Labwani, a 48-
        year-old physician in Syria, stated that there are at least 400 
        political prisoners in Syria, 100 of whom have been jailed for at least 
        20 years;
Whereas Mr. Labwani urged ``all defenders of freedom and human rights, whether 
        individuals, associations, or bodies, or international, Arab, or local 
        organizations to participate with us in this campaign to call for the 
        immediate release of all political prisoners and detainees of opinion 
        and conscience'';
Whereas, in November 2004, Syrian journalist Louai Hussein was banned from 
        writing by the Syrian Interior Ministry's political security office;
Whereas, in November 2004, the arrest in Germany of a Syrian embassy official 
        for espionage and issuing threats against the Syrian opposition in 
        Europe is evidence of a campaign reportedly launched by Syrian dictator 
        Bashar Assad, aimed at intimidating the regime's opposition abroad;
Whereas thousands of Syrian citizens, along with their families, children, and 
        grandchildren, live outside their country in forced exile, solely 
        because of their political views, or because of the views of members of 
        their families; and
Whereas human rights and democracy groups in Syria have sponsored a petition 
        urging greater freedoms and the release of all political prisoners: Now, 
        therefore, be it
    Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), 
That Congress--
            (1) condemns the consistent pattern of gross violations of 
        internationally recognized human rights by the Government of 
        the Syrian Arab Republic;
            (2) calls on the international community to adopt a 
        resolution at the upcoming session of the United Nations 
        Commission on Human Rights which details the dismal human 
        rights record of Syria;
            (3) expresses its support for the people of Syria in their 
        daily struggle for freedom, respect for human rights and civil 
        liberties, democratic self-governance, and the establishment of 
        the rule of law;
            (4) encourages the President and the Secretary of State to 
        reach out to dissidents, human rights activists, and the 
        nonviolent democratic opposition in Syria, and to assist them 
        in their efforts; and
            (5) urges the adoption and pursuit of these and other 
        policies to seek a democratic government in Syria that will--
                    (A) bring freedom and democracy to the people of 
                    (B) cease the illegal occupation by Syria of the 
                Lebanese Republic;
                    (C) abandon support for terrorism;
                    (D) not pursue research, development, acquisition, 
                production, transfer, or deployment of biological, 
                chemical, or nuclear weapons, will provide credible 
                assurances that such behavior will not be undertaken in 
                the future, and will agree to allow United Nations and 
                other international observers to verify such 
                assurances; and
                    (E) live in peace and security with the 
                international community.

            Passed the House of Representatives March 17, 2005.



  1st Session

                            H. CON. RES. 18


                         CONCURRENT RESOLUTION

Expressing the grave concern of Congress regarding the continuing gross 
   violations of human rights and civil liberties of the Syrian and 
     Lebanese people by the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic.

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