SYRIA: PRESIDENT BASHAR AL-ASSAD GRANTS AMNESTY AFTER RE-ELECTION
|Syrian President Bashar al-Assad
June 9, 2014: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad announced a wide-ranging amnesty, less than a week after he was re-elected to another seven-year term.
In a decree published by state media, Assad commuted some death sentences to life imprisonment, reduced jail terms for many offences and cancelled some others altogether.
Foreigners who entered the country "to join a terrorist group or perpetrate a terrorist act" would receive an amnesty if they surrender to authorities within a month, the decree said.
President Assad's decree said prisoners aged over 70 or suffering from incurable diseases would be freed, drug and weapons smugglers would have their jail term reduced, as would prisoners convicted of economic crimes.
Kidnappers who free their hostages and army deserters would also be covered by the amnesty.
The decree set out several exemptions to the amnesty, without specifying which offences they covered.
Syria's justice minister said the decree was issued in the interest of social forgiveness and national cohesion.
Assad has issued several amnesties since protests against his rule erupted in March 2011. However, opponents say only a fraction of detainees were released in previous amnesties, leaving many thousands of people including political opponents and activists as well as ordinary criminals in prison, where they say many are subjected to abuse. (Sources: abc.net.au, 10/06/2014)