Thu 02 Apr 2020

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New procedures to raise money from draft dodgers

A number of young men from the eastern neighborhoods of Aleppo dragged to military service (Reuters)

A number of young men from the eastern neighborhoods of Aleppo dragged to military service (Reuters)

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Enab Baladi – Taim al-Haj | The People’s Council of Syria approved an amendment to one of the articles of the Military Service Law, allowing the government of the regime to make an executive seizure of the money and properties of mandatory military service evaders who are over the age of 42.

According to the text of the amendment of the Military Service Law No. 30, which was approved by the People’s Council on  17 December 2019, “an allowance is collected for missing military service by those who are assigned when they are more than 42 old in accordance with the Public Funds Collection Law, and an executive seizure of their funds is approved without the need to warn them. A reserve seizure remains on the funds belonging to the assigned men’s wives and children, pending the determination of the source of these funds, in case the assigned men’s funds are insufficient.

The amendment to the mandatory military service law is not considered new, as during the past years, there have been several amendments to the same law, such as the determination of the maximum and minimum age for the academic postponement according to the number of years of study, as well as other amendments related to the monetary allowance that those assigned for the military service are obligated to pay, up to the amendment of the paragraph that relates to the nature of the seizure.

Between reserve and executive seizure

Lawyer Hussam Sarhan, a member of the Board of Directors of the Syrian Lawyers Association, said in an interview with Enab Baladi that the old text of the law issued in 2007, related to mandatory military service and specifically paragraph (e) of Article 97, stipulated that those who exceeded the age limit for mandatory military service, which is 42, are obligated to pay a sum of 8,000 US dollars, and in case of non-payment, a reserve seizure shall be executed on the movable and immovable properties of the assigned person.

This means that in the event of non-payment, authorities resort to the judiciary, which puts the mark of reserve seizure on the properties and money of the assigned person, so that he cannot use his money, including selling or making any transaction on the properties he owns, before paying the due amount.

As for the new amendment to the law, it stipulated that those over the age of assignment are required to pay an amount of 8,000 US dollars, and in case of non-payment the executive seizure is implemented, which, according to Sarhan, allows the Ministry of Finance not to warn the assigned person that his properties will be seized and sold in a public auction, without resorting to the judiciary.

The Ministry of Finance is the side authorized to seize the funds of the assigned persons, under the Public Tax Law in Syria, according to Legislative Decree 341 issued in 1956.

Sarhan believes that the amendment approved by the People’s Council is “dangerous,” because it includes a clear violation of the private movable and real estate property of Syrians who evaded mandatory military service.

Lawfulness of amendment

The issuance of such laws is considered contrary to the law and constitution and is not in line with the economic situation of the Syrian citizens, whether those inside the country, refugees in neighboring countries, or internally displaced to opposition-controlled areas, according to Hussam Sarhan.

The lawyer justified his position saying: “the state is able to protect the right of individual ownership for its citizens, and this right is guaranteed by the Syrian constitution in 2012, despite the existence of many notes on the legitimacy of this constitution.”

Accordingly, the law considers all displaced persons in neighboring countries or European countries to be expatriates, he explained.

Implementation mechanisms

The regime can apply the new law from the moment it is approved in the People’s Council, by “returning to the real estate newspaper of the draft dodger to check his real estate property. After that, the seizure is made by the Minister of Finance and the finance director of the governorate or the region in which the property is located; then it is put up for public auction.”

Sarhan clarified that the seized properties will be sold without regard to their real value, because what is important for the regime is to collect the amount of 8,000 dollars, and transfer it to the treasury or the budget of the Ministry of Defense regardless of whether the person is inside or outside Syria.

As for the money of the wife and children of the draft dodger who is more than 42 years old, the lawyer explained that there is no indication in the new amendment of the implementation of executive seizure on family funds. However, this does not mean that the regime is unable to issue an executive regulation added to the new amendment, allowing it to seize the property of the wife and children.

Cases

Enab Baladi presented to lawyer Hussam Sarhan several cases of Syrians in the countries of asylum who might be affected by the new amendment to the mandatory service law, including inheritance and transactions within the regime’s consulates.

Sarhan clarified that the property is transferred to the heirs upon death, and in case one of the heirs is draft dodger, is 42 and did not pay the required amount, then the regime can carry out the executive seizure on the inheritance share of this person, sell it in the public auction and deduct the specified amount.

The regime may also resort to harassing draft dodgers who are meant by the new law but live outside Syria, whenever they try to refer back to Syrian embassies and consulates to conduct some operations, such as passports and agencies.

Any moves to suspend the law?

In an attempt to get informed about the possibilities of suspending the law or reducing its effects on Syrians, Enab Baladi asked the lawyer and Director of the Syrian Center for Legal Studies and Research, Anwar al-Bunni, who had an active role in the issuance of German and French arrest warrants against a number of the prominent figures of the Syrian regime, the latest of which was issued early November 2018.

Al-Bunni explained that the regime has the legal power, through the judiciary and the courts, to implement the mandatory military service law and its new amendments. Commenting on possible moves they will make with European organizations to stop the implementation of this law, al-Bunni said: “There will be no impact because the international community has no influence on the regime.”

Al-Bunni has little hope in reducing the damage of the law or suspending it, while lawyer Hussam Sarhan expects that other laws will follow to impose more restrictions on Syrians, as “it is not surprising that whoever bombs children and women and destroys cities would impose more restrictions on refugees.”

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