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Ten years after Bashar el-Assad's ascent to power, government still decides who can be a journalist

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders has assessed the press freedom situation in Syria on the eve the 10th anniversary of Bashar el-Assad's succession to the presidency on his father's death, and the findings are depressing. All the talk of political and legislative reforms never produced any results. As in his foreign policy, Assad says one thing and does another.

The number of news media has increased in the past decade but there is no room for media diversity. The Baath Party continues to maintain complete control of the press. Syria's reemergence on the international stage has not changed this.

Syria's social and political reality is completely opaque. It is extremely difficult for international human rights organisations to interview people. The population is afraid to talk, afraid to provide information. The intelligence services (mukhabarat) are ubiquitous and all powerful. As a result, Syria has been turned into a vast prison.

Syria is ranked 165th out of 175 countries in the Reporters Without Borders press freedom index and is on the list of "Enemies of the Internet" that the organisation updates ever year, while Assad is regarded as one of the world's 40 worst "Predators of press freedom."

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