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Apparent moves for reform amid crackdown on protesters raises question as who the real power-brokers are in Syria.
Experts say human rights unlikely to improve as laws that are equally dreaded remain in place.
The Syrian president has promised to lift emergency law but many doubt this will end human-rights abuses.
Some 200 Syrians have staged a protest outside the Supreme State Security Court in Damascus, coinciding with the resumption of the trial of a prominent human-rights campaigner.
Lawrence Smallman
Human rights group Amnesty International has called on Syria to  unconditionally free five "prisoners of conscience" who face trial in the next two days.
Syria has ignored international requests for the immediate release of rights activist Aktham Naisa and plans to try him at the Supreme State Security Court.
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More than one-quarter of Gaza's population has been displaced, causing a humanitarian crisis.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Muslim charities claim discrimination after major UK banks began closing their accounts.
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
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