Syria government lifts emergency law, limits protests

Reuters News
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Posted: Apr 19, 2011 10:35 AM
Syria government lifts emergency law, limits protests

DAMASCUS (Reuters) - Syria's government passed a bill on Tuesday lifting emergency law after nearly half a century but adopted new legislation to "regulate the right of peaceful protest," the state news agency said.

A senior lawyer said President Bashar al-Assad has to sign the legislation for it to take effect but that his signature was a formality.

The official agency said the cabinet, which has little power and rubber-stamps Assad's orders, also passed a law to abolish a special security court that human rights lawyers says violates the rule of law and the universal right to fair trial.

The changes were a response to weeks of protests, inspired by uprisings elsewhere in the Arab world, demanding greater freedom and, more recently, an end to Assad's 11-year rule.

Demonstrations have continued in several cities despite a series of announcements of political concessions by the president, who took over from his late father, Hafez al-Assad, in 2000.

(Reporting by Khaled Yacoub Oweis; Editing by Jon Boyle and Paul Taylor)