Syria/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation  

5.3.4 Literature and libraries

Law on Freedom of Press and Libraries, issued by a Legislative Decree on 2001

It was cancelled by Article (2) of the new information law in 2011, so the National Council of Information would become in charge of distributing publications according to Article (22) of the Law. According to Article (37), the National Council of Information grants permissions to publications, without the permission being affective if not endorsed by the government cabinet, as the permission request should include, as it was stated in Article (38), the name of the publication, the name of its owner, its budget and headquarters, and a recap on the publication policy and its ignition project. However, Article (39) specializes on the conditions that a permission requester, whether an ordinary person or a company, must have for a publication as long as the owner of an informational method, the proprietor of a daily publication with a portion exceeding 50%, is not a proprietor of another daily publication with a portion exceeding 49%. Article (40) specifies the conditions of transferring the permission place and the permission to others or inherits. While Article (41) is specialized on the conditions that must be available in both, the manager, in charge of the publication, and its head editor. According to Article (42), the permission is considered cancelled in case of having three years passed since its approval and the publication is still not issued. Finally, Article (43) specifies the data that should be mentioned in each issue of the periodic publications: the owner’s name of the publication, the headquarters of the informational method, the name of the manager in charge and of the head editor, the editing center or the publishing management address, the issue date, the price of each copy shown in the header of the issue that is ready for sale and the publication issue times and policy.

Based upon the decree the administrative body, that is concerned with publishing materials and libraries is the Ministry of Information based in Damascus and the governors in those governorates where there are no branches of the Ministry.

Establishing Printing Establishments and Libraries:

The applicant should address a statement to the Ministry of Information to be granted a license for establishing a printing establishment or a library, giving needed information such as the name of the publishing houses or the library's owner, Director in –charge, its name and location .In case any of the above-mentioned information has been changed, the Ministry should be informed within five days as of the date of change.

The Director in-charge will bear all consequences of violation committed via the printing establishment, whereas owner of the printing establishment bears the financial consequences for such violations.

The owner of the printing establishment should reply any request on presenting a statement on titles of the published materials and date of publication to the concerned administrative body.

The owner of the printing establishment should deliver the concerned administrative body a copy of the publication on the same day of publishing it.

Provisions of Publishing the Periodicals:

Procedure for publishing periodicals is done through a license to be granted by a Resolution passed by the Prime Minister, on the basis of a proposal presented by the Minister of Culture. Applying for a new license is permissible within a period no less than a year as of the date of rejecting the previous application.

If the purpose of the application for a license is to issue a daily political newspaper, the applicant should abide themselves to the instructions specified by a Resolution passed by the Minister of Information regarding number of editions, specifications, writers, reporters, correspondents, and subscription in news agencies.

The license will be cancelled by a Resolution issued by the Prime Minister based on a proposal by the Minister of Information in the following cases:

  • If the published periodicals has not been issued on the regular basis within three months as of the date of granting the license.

  • If two thirds of regular numbers usually published by similar periodicals has not been issued within consecutive three months.

  • If two verdicts have been issued against the published material during a year.

  • If one of the persons-in- charge proved guilty of one of the two crimes stipulated in article /55/ of this decree “Whoever has contacted a foreign country and received money from the country, its representatives, or clients in return for propaganda activities for the best interest of this country or its projects via published materials, or whoever has received, directly or indirectly, money from foreign companies or institutions with the aim of carrying out propaganda activities for the best interest of this country and its projects in Syria via these published materials".

Provisions for granting licenses mentioned in this decree are not applicable to the printed materials issued by the Public Bodies, Popular Organizations, Unions, and Syndicates. It would be enough to inform the Minister about that.

Law No. 12 dated 22 March 2001 on protecting the rights of authors, recognizes authors’ rights with regard to the periodical and non-periodical Prints.

The Syrian president published Legislative Decree No.63 of 2009 stipulating the creation of the Syrian Company for the Distribution of Publications that would replace the Directorate of Distribution at the Unity Foundation for journalism, printing, publishing and distribution. Its task is to distribute periodicals, non-periodicals and books in all Syrian governorates and outside of Syria, to organize and participate in internal and external fairs specialized for publications and books, and to import publications and books from outside the country and distribute them within Syria and outside of it. By this decree the Syrian Company for the Distribution of Publications became the only body authorized with the previously mentioned tasks.

On 1/5/2014 the National Media Council presented in writing to the director of the General  Directorate of Customs specifying the publications distribution companies that it had used within the framework of applying the media law that came out of legislative decree No.108 of 2011 per its instructions. Publications distribution companies are all on an equal level; no one company has more power or preference or exclusivity, and the Syrian Company for Distribution of Publications should not have any tutelage or exclusivity of the distribution of publications as in this case it would be a clear violation of the law. 

Chapter published: 06-05-2016