Syria lifts state of emergency

April 20, 2011 - 0:0

Syrian government approved lifting the country's nearly 50-year-old state of emergency on Tuesday to meet a key demand of pro-reform protesters.

The Cabinet passed bills on legislative decrees to end the state of emergency, abolishing Higher State Security Court, bill regulating right to peaceful protest, Syrian Arab News Agency reported.
Last Saturday, President Bashar al-Assad's had told his cabinet to remove the state of emergency -- in place since his Baath Party took power in March 1963 -- but added that such a move would give protesters no more reason to take to the streets, The Associated Press reported.
Assad formed the new government on Thursday after weeks of anti-government protests over political and economic reforms.
Syria's official news agency SANA said the cabinet also approved abolishing the state security court, which handled the trials of political prisoners, and approved a new law allowing the right to peaceful protests. The changes need parliament approval, but no objections are expected at its next session planned for May 2.
Most of Syria's 23 million people were born or grew up under the strict control of the state of emergency that, among other things, puts strict control on the media, allows eavesdropping on telecommunications and permits arrests without warrants from judicial authorities.
Syria had said the reason for the emergency rule is because of the technical state of war with archenemy Israel.