Jordan: New anti-terrorism law violates international Human Rights standards

Alkarama expresses its concern over the new anti-terrorism law that was adopted by the Jordanian government on 1st June 2014. The amendments to the initial law n°55 of 2006 are not in line with international Human Rights standards and treaties ratified by the Hashemite Kingdom.

The first cause of concern is the broad definition of terrorism retained by the government. Indeed, the definition criminalises facts unrelated to violent actions such as "disturbing public order", harming "the environment" or just presenting an "economic risk". Furthermore, the amendments include common crimes under the scope of terrorism, without taking into account their seriousness and even though these acts were already embodied in the criminal code.

Criticising or caricaturising a foreign leader, or more generally a policy of a third country, also falls under the definition of terrorism. Thus, any person that has "disturbed relations with a foreign country" can be prosecuted. As other liberticidal laws of the region, Jordan also criminalised activities linked to associations and charity. Moreover, freedom of press and information are also thrown into jeopardy, as media can now be prosecuted for "promoting [terrorist] ideas" if they report or publish information related to terrorism. These different amendments could affect durably the free exercise and enjoyment of freedom of association and of expression.

More importantly, if an act is qualified as an act of terrorism, authorities can then bring perpetrators of the whether real or supposed violations, before the State Security Court, an extraordinary jurisdiction. This court lacks independence as it is directly linked to the executive branch and its members, including one military, are appointed by the Prime Minister. The latter is also in charge of approving its decisions, with a possibility of modulating them, in direct violation of fair trial international standards.

If the international community recognises the necessity for States to have a strong legal arsenal to counter terrorism, it should not be used as a justification to violate fundamental rights and freedoms of citizens. Unfortunately, the new Jordanian law seems to have been adopted only to offer a window for the government for criminalizing and repressing any political opposition under the pretext of fighting terrorism.

Alkarama has informed the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental liberties while counter terrorism of this new situation and to express its concern. Alkarama reminds the Jordanian authorities about their obligation to guarantee fundamental rights of its citizens and to respect its international obligations, even while countering terrorism.

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