Jordan: Arbitrary Detention Targets Supporter of Palestinian cause


UPDATE: Ghassan Duar was released on July 29, 2018 after the completion of his sentence.

On 31 March 2015, Alkarama sent a communication to the United Nations Working Group on arbitrary detention (WGAD) concerning the case of Ghassan Mohammed Salim Duar, arbitrarily detained since 29 October 2014 because of his support to the Palestinian cause.

Ghassan, a 56-year-old civil engineer and member of the Jordanian Engineers Association is a well-known supporter of Palestinian claims and the author of several articles denouncing Israeli practices such as the widespread resort to administrative detention of Palestinians, and of several books on Palestine.

On the night of 29 October 2014, Ghassan was in his house when a patrol of the General Intelligence Directorate (GID) – the Jordanian intelligence agency which reports to the King himself – and the Public Security Force (PSF) – the national police – entered his house. They arrested him, without showing any arrest warrant or giving any reason. They also confiscated some publications, his personal computer and a large amount of money.

Brought to the GID in Amman – sadly notorious for abusing detainees and extracting forced confessions – Ghassan was not allowed any contact with a lawyer or member of his family for the first 15 days of detention. He was finally authorised to receive the visit of his relatives after his transfer to Jweida Prison in Amman, in December 2014. During his detention at the GID, Ghassan was subjected to several threats and ill-treated, including through sleep and food deprivation as well as psychological stress due to being interrogated in those conditions.

On 11 November 2014, Ghassan was informally accused by the General Prosecutor of the State Security Court, sitting at the headquarters of the GID, of "manufacturing explosive materials and threatening the public order and the regime". Three months later, on 26 February 2015, the State Security Court's Prosecutor charged him with "threatening the public order, joining an armed group and recruitment of people into an armed group," all charges under article 3 of the Anti-terrorism Law, as amended in 2014. His first hearing was held at the State Security Court on 23 March 2015, before being adjourned to 30 March 2015 and to 5 April 2015.

Ghassan's arrest and detention is not an isolated act, but fits into a broader pattern. Alkarama could in fact report the cases of other 11 supporters of the Palestinian cause, most of them also members of the Jordanian Engineers Association. The Association publicly supports Palestinian claims and is also a signatory to the Jordanian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Campaign. These individuals were all arrested between the end of October and the beginning of December 2014 and are all still detained in Al Hashemyia prison in the Zarqa Governorate, northeast of Amman. Prosecuted for "threat to public order", a charge under the Jordanian Anti-terrorism law, their lawyers has declared that "the charges are politically motivated and due to their support to the Palestinian cause".

In June 2014, Alkarama denounced the amendments to the Jordanian Anti-terrorism law in a communication to the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, because they widen the scope of the previous law and they put a direct threat to the exercise of fundamental rights. The case at stake perfectly shows how the Jordanian Anti-terrorism Law is used by the authorities to counter rights and freedoms such as the right to freedom of expression and opinion.

Alkarama thus sent an urgent appeal to the WGAD asking for Ghassan's immediate release by the Jordanian authorities. In any case, his unlawful detention by the General Intelligence services has to cease and the authorities should take urgent steps, in line with their international obligations, to end the practice of arbitrary detention.

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