Syria: Assad issues fresh "general amnesty" as opposition remain unimpressed
Syria's President Bashar al Assad announced an amnesty for crimes committed during the uprising, according to the state news agency, SANA, AFP reported.
Quoting the agency, AFP reported that, "President Assad has issued decree number 23, granting a general amnesty for crimes committed before April 16, 2013."
Assad has issued several amnesties during the course of the conflict, all usual based on "general crimes," except for those carried out by "terrorists". The latest decree from the president will replace the death penalty with hard labour, according to AFP.
The decision by Assad coincides with the public holiday of 'Evacuation day' in Syria, which marks the departure of the last French soldier, which ended the European nation's colonial occupation of the country in 1946.
Assad's decree will reduce prison terms for those held for crimes and cut by a quarter the sentences of "Syrians who had joined the terrorists," the governments terms for rebels fighting to topple the regime, according to Reuters.
Activists an opposition figures have denounced the decision saying that it does not go far enough.
Moaz Alkhatib, Syria's opposition leader cautiously welcomed the presidential decree.
According to a statement on Alkhatib's Facebook page, the leader said, "We want an amnesty on crimes and the release of all innocents of which there are more than 160,000. Most importantly among them are the women and children. If this happens we will say it is a token of a Syrian solution," Reuters reported.
Syria has entered its third year of conflict which has killed over 70,000 according to the United Nations. March of this year was the bloodiest of the conflict according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, with over 6,000 deaths recording.
The conflict has forced over 1.3 millionto flee to neighboring countries, with over two million internally displaced within Syria.