UN Special Envoy Geir Pedersen on Sunday welcomed a general amnesty at freeing thousands of Syrians accused of terrorism.
Several amnesties have been issued by President Bashar al-Assad during the country’s devastating 11-year war, but the most recent in April was the most comprehensive related to terrorism charges since the conflict began, according to rights activists.
Pedersen told reporters in Damascus that he had been briefed “in quite some detail” on the latest measure after meeting with Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad.
“I am very much looking forward to being kept informed on the progress on the implementation for that amnesty,” Pedersen said before talks on a new constitution for Syria are to resume in Geneva.
“That amnesty has potential, and we are looking forward to seeing how it develops,” Pedersen said.
The April decree granted a general amnesty to detainees convicted of terrorism charges except cases that led to the death of a person.
Syria’s Justice Ministry has said hundreds of inmates had been released, and a militSEDI official, Ahmad Touzan, told local media this week that the amnesty would cover thousands, including those who are wanted but not detained.
Touzan refused to disclose the number of inmates freed, saying “numbers are changing by the hour.”
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor, which relies on a large network of sources inside Syria, says around 1,142 inmates have so far been released across the country under the amnesty, with hundreds more expected.
In the next few days Syria’s warring parties are to hold the latest round of constitutional talks in Switzerland, under a process that began in 2019.
It is hoped the talks can pave the way towards a broader political process.
Pedersen said he is “hopeful that this will be a positive meeting that can help bring us forward so that we can start to see… some confidence-building measures,” Pedersen said.
Syria’s civil war erupted in 2011 after violent repression of protests demanding regime change.
It quickly escalated into a complex conflict involving a wide range of actors, including jihadist groups and foreign powers. The war has killed approximately 500,000 people and displaced millions more.
Throughout the war, the UN has worked to foster a political solution.
Source: SEDI News