Damascus // During a routine session of the Syrian parliament recently, something unexpected happened - a member proposed that harsh emergency laws be reviewed. Abdul Karim al Sayed, an independent MP from Aleppo, said the state of emergency imposed in Syria should be evaluated by a committee of MPs, which would then recommend changes.Emergency laws give the authorities sweeping powers to arrest anyone suspected of "endangering public security" or of "disturbing public confidence". Under these laws, countless human rights activists and opposition figures have been imprisoned over the years.The issue was not scheduled for discussion, and it came as a surprise at the February 23 parliament sitting, according to officials and other MPs. A pro-government official at the session recalled it with anger, saying it was "neither the time, nor the place" to raise the subject.The proposal was rapidly quashed. Those present say Syria's justice minister defended emergency laws as essential given the state of war with Israel and, when the speaker put the proposed review to a vote in the chamber, none of the other 249 MPs supported it.
Syrian MP calls for review of harsh emergency laws