Legal environment in partnering nations - Syria

syria overview

Historical background

In July 2004, the President Bachar Al Assad issued the national law 34/2004 to protect the rights of persons with disabilities. It includes free access to health care, social services, education and training.
The Central Council for Disability Affairs is responsible for the planning and development of the national strategy, the operational programs for persons with disabilities and the follow-up of their implementation.
The Council is composed of representatives of each of the following bodies: the Ministry of Health, Education, Local Administration, Environment, Culture, Social Affairs, Labour, Aoukaf, the President of the Syrian Red Cross, 3 representatives of the civil society and 3 persons with disabilities. Regional councils are divided over the various governorates of Syria. Their scope of intervention covers different areas: health; education, higher education and sports; rehabilitation and work; environment accessibility; information and awareness; exemptions and services.

Laws and regulations

Law 34/2004 grants certain privileges to persons with disabilities:
Healthcare: The law states that at least one center in each governorate should be set up to provide the physiotherapy service for persons with disabilities. Persons with bodily disabilities should have the necessary requirements to enable them to involve in sports activities. 
Accessibility: The necessary equipment, devices and means of communication should be provided to persons with bodily disabilities. Seats should be allocated for persons with disabilities in public buses, near the doors. TV stations should use the sign language and publishing houses should be encouraged to release bulletins and written materials about disability. 
Financial assistance: Persons with “bodily disabilities” have priority in obtaining loans from the Ministry of Social Affairs (MSA), free of any taxes or fees. In coordination with the Ministry of Finance, MSA decided that a financial assistance could be provided for the families who look after a person with cerebral palsy Employment: Public institutions must employ persons with disabilities at a rate not exceeding 4% of total employees. 
Access to services: The provisions regarding the non-mental/intellectual disability, or as the law calls them, “bodily disabilities”, are exclusive. This means that persons with mental and intellectual disabilities are not totally covered by the provisions in this law. Consequently, persons with mental and intellectual disabilities will be excluded from different types of services stated in the Law. The disability card is the only legitimate way to benefit from the provisions set forth in Law 34. Article 16 states that the Law covers the persons who hold the disability card. 
A number of other relevant and important decisions related to persons with disabilities have been issued since the Law No.34/2004:
  • Legislative decree No.36 declares a significant reduction in custom duties. 
  • Decision No.1716 issued by the Ministry of Culture declares the exemption of persons with disabilities from the payment of fees for cultural and archaeological sites. 
  • Decision No. AD 1514 issued by the Ministry of Transport declares a 50% reduction in the cost of public services of land and air transport for persons with disabilities and their travel companion 
  • Exemption by the Ministry of Finance from all fees and revenue stamps as well as all costs for historical and cultural places. 
Following the Law No.34/2004, Syria has taken a number of special procedures related to the early detection and follow-up of disability:
  • Provision of preventive and curative services free of charge through public health institutions 
  • Strengthening the competence of physical medicine to provide treatment and rehabilitation services for persons with disabilities: training of 50 health workers from various governorates and various entities on basics of international disability classification 
  • Establishment of at least one health center in each governorate to provide early detection and recording of children at risk of disability, to follow-up their situation and to provide them with the necessary treatment (Governorates of Damascus - Aleppo - Homs - Tartus - Deir al-Zour in 2011, and the rest of the governorates by 2015) 
  • Creation of a database on disability in the Ministry of Health in collaboration with the Central Bureau of Statistics 
  • Establishment of a committee of various stakeholders to study the national disability classification and propose necessary amendments in line with international classification. 
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