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7 September 2006

The Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, Martin Scheinin, made the following statement today:

“Before Jordan’s Anti-Terrorism law enters into force I call for further debate and amendments as the implementation of this law as it currently stands could negatively impact on a number of human rights.

“I regret that Parliament passed this law, on 29 August, during a period of intense deliberation by a number of independent Members of Parliament, opposition party leaders and human rights activists who claim it infringes on certain public freedoms and peaceful political activities.

“The Special Rapporteur wrote to the Government in July 2006 when the draft law was before Parliament and identified a number of areas of concern.

“One of the primary concerns is the overly broad definition of terrorism since it is vague regarding the elements of intent and aim and can be seen to be at variance with the principle of legality. There are also a number of procedural safeguards that appear to have been compromised which can negatively impact on the right to a fair trial and due process. For example, the law currently allows suspects to be detained for up to 30 days without access to a lawyer and without judicial review. Further, the law gives considerable powers to law enforcement, security forces and the Public Prosecutor with regard to detention, search and arrest that effectively negate the right to privacy, freedom and movement and the presumption of innocence. Finally, the law designates military courts as having sole jurisdiction of terrorism cases which may lack judicial independence and deny a number of procedural guarantees.

“This law awaits ratification; and while I am fully conscious of the fact that States' obligation to protect and promote human rights requires them to take effective measures to combat terrorism, I wish to recall that States have a duty to ensure that any such measures comply with their obligations under international law, in particular Articles 7, 9, 10, 14 and 15 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Jordan is a party”.