On 26 September 2016, Hatem Al Darawsheh, a 19-year-old Jordanian high school student, will face trial before the State Security Court for his alleged “support to a terrorist organisation”, based on statements extracted under torture during his interrogation by officers of the General Intelligence Directorate (GID). Concerned over such abuses, Alkarama sent al Darawsheh’s case to Ben Emmerson, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism (SRCT), asking him to urgently intervene with the Jordanian authorities to ask for Al Darawsheh’s release and drop all charges against him.
On 19 January 2016, Al Darawsheh was at home when members of the GID broke in and arrested him without showing any warrant. Two days later, Al Darawsheh appeared before the Public Prosecutor of the State Security Court (SSC), a military judge sitting at the premises of the GID, before which he denied all the accusations of “being a supporter of the Islamic State (IS)”.
Al Darawsheh was held at the GID premises in Amman until 10 March 2016, when he was transferred to the maximum security prison of Muwaqqar II where he is detained up until today.
For an entire month of detention at the GID Al Darawsheh was denied all access to the outside world, a condition that by itself puts the victim outside the protection of the law. Once his relatives could visit him, they found that he had been tortured by the GID officers. Al Darawsheh told them that he was severely beaten and banged against the wall while interrogated until he would answer the questions the way his interrogators wanted him to and was forced to sign a document containing his “confession”.
These confessions extracted under torture were indeed the sole basis for the SSC Prosecutor indictment of Al Darawsheh for “promoting a terrorist organisation”, a crime according to Jordan Antiterrorism Law No. 66 of 2005 as amended in 2014. Several witnesses testified before the SSC that Al Darawsheh had always opposed the IS and even participated in distributing leaflets criticising the armed group and its actions, in particular following the execution of captured Jordanian pilot Lt. Muath Al Kaseasbehon on 3 January 2015.
Moreover, two fellow detainees who were held in the same cell as Darawsheh’s since his arrival at the GID premises testified before the SSC that they had witnessed signs of torture on his body following interrogation sessions,. Nevertheless, the SSC never opened any investigation into Al Darawsheh’s allegations of torture.
“It is extremely worrying to notice that Al Darawsheh may be sentenced for terrorism based solely on information extracted under torture, and even more so because of the testimonies from his fellow detainees and his young age. It is unacceptable that the SSC dismisses all torture allegations without opening any inquiry, as it is required by the Convention against Torture (UNCAT), to which Jordan is bound since its ratification in 1991,” says Rachid Mesli, Legal Director at Alkarama. “The Jordanian authorities must stop to use terrorism as a pretext for abuses and implement as a matter of priority the recommendations issued by the Committee against Torture following its review of Jordan in 2015 and especially that coerced confessions or statements are inadmissible in court proceedings.”
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