EXPRESSING GRAVE CONCERN OF CONGRESS REGARDING CONTINUING GROSS VIOLATIONS OF HUMAN RIGHTS AND CIVIL LIBERTIES OF SYRIAN PEOPLE BY GOVERNMENT OF SYRIAN ARAB REPUBLIC -- (House of Representatives - September 13, 2004)
Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and agree to the concurrent resolution (H. Con. Res. 363) expressing the grave concern of Congress regarding the continuing gross violations of human rights and civil liberties of the Syrian people by the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic, as amended.
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Mr. FARR. Mr. Speaker, I support and applaud the authors of H. Con. Res. 363 for urging Syria to live in peace and security with the international community and for condemning Syrian human rights violations. The U.S. Congress is an appropriate venue for highlighting human rights abuses and forum for urging other nations to abide by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Every year Congress passes dozens of resolutions condemning human rights violations throughout the world. Unfortunately, while there are a plethora of countries that demand censure, the House of Representatives tends to focus more frequently on a few specific countries like the People's Republic of China, Iran and Syria; all countries that we must prod to do better. Many of the statements regarding human rights violations in H. Con. Res. 363 apply to numerous other countries in the world.
If we condemn one country and turn a blind eye to the very same abuses in another country, the magnitude and moral legitimacy of our censure is greatly diminished. For example, H. Con. Res. 363 condemns: "The family law of Syria as applied to Muslim women is governed by Sharia law and is discriminatory in marriage, divorce, and inheritance matters." But Sharia family law is also practiced in numerous other Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia.
Syria needs to understand that by passage of H. Con. Res. 363, the United States Congress expects Syria to improve its human rights record and adhere to the rule of law. Approval of H. Con. Res. 363 should also signal to other countries that the United States will continue to express its disapproval of violators of basic human rights and disregard of the dignities of its citizens.