Syria’s New Media Law: More Freedom, Less Restrictions

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Sunday issued a decree on a new media law that would ban journalists being jailed and also give them access to information.

Assad "issued the legislative decree of the media law," the official news agency SANA reported, without elaborating.

The law partly liberalizes repressive legislation under which journalists faced jail for, among other things, attacking "the prestige and dignity of the state, national unity and the morale of the army."

LAW GIVES MORE FREEDOM

Elias Murad, head of the journalists’ union, told AFP that the association "has always demanded a modern press law to give Syrian media the chance to play a comprehensive role in providing the truth and serving society."

"There is an important article in the new law that bans the imprisonment of journalists. The law gives more freedom to have access to information, and officials will be obligated to provide information," he said.

LAW DID NOT PUT RESTRICTIONS ON JOURNALISTS

Murad said the law did not put restrictions on journalists, "excluding issues related to the nation, enemy and national unity, which is natural."

Under the new law, which was discussed by the government earlier this month, an independent national media council will be created. "It authorizes citizens to open a newspaper or television station and obliges government officials and public institutions to provide information so journalists can ply their trade, while taking national imperatives into account," Murad said.

In May, Syrian Information Minister Adnan Mahmud announced the formation of a media commission including experts, journalists and academics to draft a "new comprehensive press law for print, audio and visual media."

Earlier this month, Assad issued decrees on the formation of political parties as well as general elections.

Source: Agencies
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