Syrian Emergency Law
Region: Middle East
Subject: Military Censorship
President: Bashar al-Asad, as of July 2000
Confronting Bodies: Syrian Government, as controlled by the ruling Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party
Description in Brief: Syria has been under Emergency Law since 1963, which has essentially rendered most of the constitutional protections afforded to Syrian citizens and has given the government incredible power to silence its critics.
Effects of the Emergency Law: While the Emergency Law was technically lifted in April 2011 after 48 years of being in effect, a variety of other laws, such as immunity from prosecution for government security forces, seriously undermines free speech within the Syrian Arab Republic.
Description of the Law: In place since the 1963 coup that brought the current ruling Arab Socialist Baath Party to power, the Emergency Law severely restricts public gatherings, especially those in opposition to the ruling Ba'ath Party and the Asad Regime. President Asad, who succeeded his father Hafez al-Asad in 2000, uses the same reasoning to justify the state of Emergency as his father did; the continued state of war with Israel and the threats posed by terrorist organizations. In practice however, the rule essentially cements the totalitarian nature of the Syrian Arab Republic and its Ba'athist party rulers. President Asad utilizes the variety of powers granted to him to hold onto power, and is control of nearly all political and economic life in Syria. Formally, the law allows Syrian government officials to arrest "suspects or people who threaten security," while restricting free movement and authorizing both the monitoring of media communications both personal and public.