Assad Signs New Syrian Law That Limits Freedom of Speech
Syrian President Bashar Assad has signed a law putting new restrictions on the media into place, that also limits freedom of speech. The law includes a six-month prison sentence for citizens who spread disinformation that damages the reputation of the state. A six-month jail sentence will also be levied on any Syrian who “publicizes news that could improve the reputation of an enemy state,” Assad said Monday, though he did not specify which countries fall under the enemy state category. The law also includes at least one year in prison for “every Syrian who, in writing or in speech, called for the cession of Syrian territory.” This is the first time that Syrian citizens living in Syria could be imprisoned for such actions, The New Arab reported. A previous law made it illegal for Syrians residing abroad to spreading fake or exaggerated news deemed damaging to the state. They have been sentenced to jail time in absentia for their crimes. Syrians live in fear of being arrested for criticizing the state and for defending human rights, the United Nations Human Rights Council said earlier this month.