Syria | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press



Freedom of the Press 2003

2003 Scores

Press Status

Not Free

Press Freedom Score
(0 = best, 100 = worst)


Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)


Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)


The government strictly controls the dissemination of information and permits no written or oral criticism of the president, the ruling Ba'ath Party, the military, or the legitimacy of the government. The Emergency Law and penal code allow the government broad discretion in determining what constitutes illegal expression and prohibit the publishing of "inaccurate" information. Journalists found guilty of publishing such information are subject to prison terms and stiff fines. In 2001, the government amended its press law to allow publications that were circulated before 1963 to be reestablished, which led to a few privately owned newspapers being published during the year. State security services are known to detain and threaten local journalists as well as revoke credentials for reporting on sensitive topics, although not as frequently as in the past. Many journalists practice self-censorship to avoid a government reaction. The government owns the country's radio and television stations as well as the newspaper publishing houses. In 2002, conditions were set out for licensing private, commercial, FM radio stations, but these stations would not be able to broadcast news or political content. The government-controlled press has, however, increased its coverage of official corruption and governmental inefficiency. Satellite television is widely available and cuts across socioeconomic lines.