Human Rights



Syria has recently made some progress by releasing hundreds of political prisoners in 1998. However, Syrian law still criminalizes peaceful expression and association and censors newspapers and other media. Emergency law granting widespread powers to the government remains in effect and opposition groups are essentially barred from political activity.

Hundreds more political prisoners remain in prisons where torture is sometimes used and medical treatment is inadequate. Many prisoners have been held past the expiration of their sentences after refusing to sign loyalty oaths. Some prisoners detained since the 1970s have yet to be charged or tried. The government has failed to provide information about scores of people who were "disappeared" in previous years.

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There is no independent press in Syria. The papers below are controlled by the government.

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Human Rights in the Middle East

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