UN welcomes presidential pardon for prisoners in Syria

UN Special Envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen on Sunday welcomed the general presidential amnesty that is supposed to release thousands of Syrian prisoners convicted of terrorism charges, during his visit to Damascus ahead of a new round of talks aimed at drafting a new constitution for the country to be held next week in Geneva.

"I was presented with some details related to the recent amnesty issued by President Bashar al-Assad, and I hope to keep me informed of the steps for its implementation," the UN Special Envoy said in a press statement after a meeting with Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Miqdad.

"As I've said before, this pardon has prospects, and we're looking forward to seeing how things go," Pedersen added.

In early May, al-Assad issued a decree to "grant a general amnesty for terrorist crimes committed by Syrians" before April 30, 2022, "except for those that led to the death of a human being and stipulated in the Anti-Terrorism Law."

The decree, according to activists, is the most comprehensive in relation to "terrorism" crimes, as it does not include exceptions, as was the case in previous decrees.

In a statement issued on May 3, the Ministry of Justice stated that, within two days of the amnesty’s issuance, “hundreds of prisoners arrested from various Syrian governorates were released,” provided that all those covered by the amnesty would be released “in succession during the coming days” pending completion of the procedures.

The ministry did not publish lists of names or numbers of those covered by the amnesty.

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