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Censorship: Bashar al-Assad promulgates a law punishing Syrians who “damage the prestige of the state”


A law enacted on Monday provides for a sentence of at least six months in prison for Syrians residing in the country who disseminate information critical of the state.

Bashar al-Assad is inspired by his Russian ally who, after having helped him to raze Aleppo, persists in destroying Mariupol. In early March Vladimir Putin signed a new law punishing up to fifteen years in prison for the dissemination of information aimed at “discrediting” the military forces engaged in Ukraine. The Syrian president promulgated a law on Monday providing for a sentence of at least six months in prison for Syrians residing in the country who disseminate information “damaging prestige” of State.

Under the previous law, only Syrians residing abroad could so far be sentenced to prison terms, likely in absentia, for disseminating information deemed harmful to the state. “Every Syrian who publishes false information or exaggerated information that damages the prestige […] of the State will be imprisoned for at least six months”, said a statement issued by the Syrian Presidency.

From now on, the same penalty will apply to any Syrian who “publishes information likely to enhance the reputation of an enemy state”, added the presidency, without specifying which countries it was. Worse, the new law also introduced a one-year prison sentence for “any Syrian who, in writing or verbally, has called for the cession of Syrian territory”, according to the press release.

Syrians have for decades feared persecution for criticizing the state. “People across the country live in fear of being arrested for speaking their mind, belonging to a dissident political party, reporting or defending human rights,” the UN Human Rights Council said this month.

This latest move follows months of growing dissatisfaction with the Syrian authorities in the face of a growing economic crisis. Living conditions in regime-controlled areas are further deteriorating due to food and energy inflation exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The complex war in Syria, a fragmented country where different protagonists intervene, has claimed around 500,000 lives since 2011.



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