United Nations Special Envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen welcomed on Sunday the latest presidential amnesty from President Bashar Assad, aimed at freeing thousands of Syrians convicted on terrorism charges.
"I was briefed in quite some detail on the latest amnesty from President Assad, and I am very much looking forward to being kept informed on the progress on the implementation for that amnesty,” the envoy said following a meeting with Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mikdad in Damascus.
“As I said before that amnesty has potential, and we are looking forward to see how it develops,” the UN envoy added.
Early this month, dozens of prisoners were released in Syria under the general amnesty issued on the eve of Eid al-Fitr.
The presidential decree called for “granting a general amnesty for terrorist crimes committed by Syrians” before April 30, 2022, “except for those leading to the death of a person.”
The new amnesty is considered the widest since the start of the conflict in the country in 2011.
The regime’s Justice Ministry has said hundreds of inmates had been released, and a military official, Ahmad Touzan, told local media this week that the amnesty would cover thousands, including those who are wanted but not detained.
Meanwhile, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said around 1,142 inmates have so far been released across the country under the amnesty, with hundreds more expected.
According to Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Britain-based Observatory, hundreds of detainees will also be released soon.
Pedersen is visiting Damascus a few days before Syria’s warring parties are to hold the latest round of constitutional talks in Switzerland, under a process that began in 2019.
Commenting on the meeting, the envoy said he is hopeful it will be positive.
“I’m also hopeful that that will be a positive meeting that can help us to bring us forward so that we can start to see the different aspects of the crisis. We now see some confidence-building measures that would be a key also to further the implementation of Security Council Resolution 2254,” said Pedersen.