Syria’s President Bashar Assad has declared a general amnesty for prisoners in the country.
Assad won a third term in office last week in a landslide election. Assad earned nearly 90 percent of the vote for a seven-year term.
The state-run SANA news agency said it would lessen prisoners’ sentences, but it isn’t clear if the amnesty would apply to opposition supporters or how many would be freed by the decree.
Fighters will not be prosecuted if they “surrender to the authorities within a month of the issuing of the decree,” the report said. Those who have taken hostages will also be pardoned, SANA said, if they “release their captives safely and without any ransom or hand (hostages) over to the authorities” within a month.
In a report from The Associated Press, Syrian lawmaker Issam Khalil said the decree was “a gift from the president after he was elected for another term.”
“All those who committed errors against their homeland will benefit,” Khalil said. “It will allow them to return to their normal lives.”
More than 160,000 people have been killed after an uprising started against Assad’s rule. After Assad’s re-election, Secretary of State John Kerry criticized the election.
He said it can't be considered fair "because you can't have an election where millions of your people don't even have an ability to vote."
"Nothing has changed from the day before the election and the day after. Nothing," Kerry said during a visit to the Lebanese capital in Beirut. "The conflict is the same, the terror is the same, the killing is the same."
Publication date: June 9, 2014