The government of Syria, wracked by weeks of relentless protests, has approved a bill that will lift the state of the emergency the country has lived under for 48 years.

Bashar al-Assad is expected to sign the legislation shortly.

The state-controlled SANA news agency said the government also abolished the state security court, which supervised the trials of political prisoners, and also signed new law permitting the right to peaceful protests.

Lifting the emergency – one of the key demands of anti-government protestors – gave the state’s security forces extraordinary powers to arrest and hold people without filing any charges. The laws were imposed in 1963, when Hafez al-Assad (the father of the current president, Bashar) seized power in Syria.

The measure comes just after security officers reportedly fired upon protesters in the city of Homs in order to disperse their massive rally, reportedly wounding dozens of people and killing six.

Part of the emergency laws pertained to the right of assembly – it banned more than five Syrian from public gathering.

Presumably, this part of the law was also removed. However, the interior ministry has warned people to refrain from public marches and demonstrations of any kind, so there is confusion over how meaningful the lifting of emergency will really be.

Moreover, Syrians still lack any real political freedoms, given that authority in the country is concentrated in Assad’s family and cronies, the Baath party (the only party allowed to exist) and the state security forces.

There was reportedly more skirmishes between protesters in Damascus and Deraa on Tuesday.