Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad issued a decree on Thursday (Legislative Decree No 36 of 2023) granting amnesty for certain crimes committed before the decree was issued, subject to conditions. Judge Muhammad Eid Baloza announced that 350 prisoners in Damascus have been released under the decree as of Saturday.
The decree stated that misdemeanors and violations will be pardoned. Individuals suffering an incurable disease, individuals who turned 70 before Thursday and juvenile offenders partaking in “correction and care measures” will be granted full amnesty. Individuals who have been sentenced to death will instead face life imprisonment and those who are sentenced to life will have their sentence reduced.
Individuals who will not be granted amnesty include persons whose crimes lead to death or serious injury, weapons or contraband smugglers and those fleeing from justice, unless the fugitives turn themselves in within 6 months.
In December 2022, al-Assad issued the Legislative Decree No. (24) of 2022, which granted a general amnesty for crimes committed before December 21. This amnesty included crimes of desertion and misdemeanors. However, many Syrians who fled during the 2011 war as well as draft dodgers may still face prosecution upon return if they don’t turn themselves in.
The president has not released his reasoning for this most recent decree nor has there been a significant public reaction.