Thursday, March 31, 2011
Government Should Abolish Emergency Law, Amend Repressive Laws, Abolish Special Courts
March 30, 2011
"(New York) - President Bashar al-Asad's speech on March 30, 2011, failed to commit to a specific reform agenda that would safeguard public freedoms and judicial independence and prohibit the Syrian government from encroaching on human rights, Human Rights Watch said today. The much anticipated speech was delivered before parliament.
Commentators and analysts had expected the president to announce specific reforms to increase public freedoms, including lifting the state of emergency, in place since 1963, following announcements by senior Syrian officials that his speech would "please Syrians." However President al-Asad did not offer any specifics and only declared general support for reform. "It's extremely disappointing that President al-Asad has done nothing more than repeat the same vague promises of reform that he's been uttering for over a decade," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. "What's needed immediately if the authorities are to restore any shred of credibility are concrete actions to dismantle Syria's special courts and abolish provisions that criminalize free speech, assembly and association."......."