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Jordan: Teacher Arbitrarily Prosecuted Before State Security Court for Political Opinion
Hamzeh Bani-Issa, 30 year-old Jordanian teacher in primary school, has been detained for more than six months merely for his alleged political opinion. Accused of “membership to an unauthorised organisation”, on 12 June 2017, Jordan’s State Security Court (SSC) is to deliver its judgment on his case. Because he has been arbitrarily detained solely on the basis of his alleged opinion and is facing an unfair trial, Alkarama sent his case to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression (SRFRDX), David Kaye, calling upon his urgent intervention with the Jordanian authorities to request Bani-Issa’s immediate release.
Bani-Issa was arrested in the evening of 1 January 2017 by members of the Special Police Forces (SPF) – a counter-terrorism unit falling under the Public Security Directorate – in plain clothes, in the city centre of his town, Irbid, and brought to Irbid rehabilitation and reformation centre, commonly referred to as Bab Al Hawa prison.
The following day, he was interrogated about his affiliation to Hizb Ut Tahrir, an international, pan-Islamic peaceful political organisation legally recognised in several countries – including the UK –, but illegal in Jordan, and his involvement in distributing its leaflets.
Following his interrogation, Bani-Issa’s case was referred to the SSC, an exceptional court composed by military judges, which should not have jurisdiction over civilians; on 27 March 2017, he was indicted for “membership to an unauthorised group” and “distributing leaflets for the organisation”, crimes according to Jordan’s Penal Code.
While Bani-Issa rejected all accusations, a witness belonging to the police and present during the arrest recognised not having seen Bani-Issa distributing any leaflet. Nevertheless, and despite the absence of any proof against him, all requests for release on bail submitted by Bani-Issa’s lawyer were rejected.
“There is no evidence against my brother, in addition to the fact that the whole case is about prosecuting him for holding an opinion, which is an internationally recognised human right as long as it does not call for the use of violence or terror in any means,” says Jafar Bani-Issa, Hamzeh’s brother.
Today, Bani-Issa remains held in Irbid rehabilitation and reformation centre, where he is detained with several convicts of different crimes, awaiting his judgment which will be issued on 12 June 2017. He reports that, during night raids, he is stripped naked and held in the cold, while being insulted by prison guards.
Concerned over the fact that Bani-Issa has been detained solely on the basis of his alleged political opinion and has been tried before a court of exception in violation of his fair trial rights, Alkarama raised his case with the Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression, demanding him to call upon the Jordanian authorities to release Bani-Issa immediately and to ensure the respect of the right to freedom of opinion and expression of all its citizens.
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