Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad on Monday (March 28) promulgated a law providing for a six-month prison sentence for Syrians residing in the country who disseminate information “undermining prestige” of State. Under the previous law, only Syrians residing abroad could so far be sentenced to prison terms, probably 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. The same penalty will apply to any Syrian who “publishes information likely to improve the reputation of an enemy State”, added the presidency, without specifying which countries it was. 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.
“People (…) live in fear of being arrested”
The latest move follows months of dissatisfaction with Syrian authorities facing a growing economic crisis. Living conditions in areas controlled by the Syrian regime are further deteriorating due to food and energy inflation exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“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 United Nations Human Rights Council said this month.