Syria: Emergency Law Lifted by Council After 48 Years (Update)

April 19, 2011 Updated: October 1, 2015

Posters of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad decorate a street as Syrians walk in the old city of Damascus on April 2, 2011. (Anwar Amro/AFP/Getty Images)
Posters of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad decorate a street as Syrians walk in the old city of Damascus on April 2, 2011. (Anwar Amro/AFP/Getty Images)
Syrian officials lifted the hated emergency law that has been in effect for nearly 50 years on Tuesday in an attempt to quell the popular unrest that has been spilling out into the streets for the past two months.

A primary demand of protesters has been for Syria to lift the emergency law as well as calling for an end to government corruption.

The country’s Council of Ministers approved a draft series of legislative decrees to end the emergency laws that has been in place for 48 years, according to state-run Sana news agency.

According to Al Jazeera news, President Bashar al-Assad has yet to sign the legislation into law.

Another item that was passed gives protesters the right to demonstrate peacefully, said state media. Over the past two months, security forces have clashed with demonstrators, resulting in more than 100 deaths.

The council also approved a law to abolish the state security court, which has been in charge of political prisoners, state media reported.

President Assad, who is facing the most serious threat to his regime’s power, spoke recently on national television and said that he would be willing to compromise with demonstrators, casting himself as someone who wants to change the system.

However, demonstrators have come out in full force in the past several days last Friday’s protests may have been the largest yet.

Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim al-Shaar released a statement to Sana, asking protesters to refrain from demonstrating in the streets for now until the laws are passed.

The removal of the emergency law, a hallmark of Assad’s Baathist regime, amounts to little, U.S. State Department spokesperson Mark Toner told reporters on Tuesday.

“It’s unclear whether they’ve passed legislation to lift the emergency law, but that a new law requiring protesters … receive permission from the interior ministry before holding demonstrations may be in play here,” said Toner, citing violence brought upon by the regime’s security forces Monday night against protesters.