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Jordan urged to restore rule of law by ending arbitrary detentions

[JURIST] Jordan should restore its rule of law by ending extrajudicial detentions of crime victims, personal enemies, and persons freed by the courts, according to a report [text] released Tuesday by Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website]. Per the 1954 Crime Prevention Law [DOS backgrounder], which is currently in effect, government officials have the power to order administrative detentions on mere suspicions of improper behavior rather than on the showing of evidence that a crime has been committed. The report alleges that Jordan officials frequently employ this power to circumvent the judicial system under which potential defendants are afforded due process and also that the subjects of such extrajudicial detentions are often the victims of crimes rather than the perpetrators themselves. For example, victims of domestic abuse have allegedly been detained for years under the pretext of protection from their aggressors. In addition, women suspected of immoral behavior are reportedly frequently detained in such extrajudicial manner. HRW asserts that the formulation and application of Jordan's Crime Prevention Law violates international standards as well as Articles 7 and 8 of the Jordan Constitution [text], which state that “Personal freedom shall be guaranteed,” and that “No person may be detained or imprisoned except in accordance with the provisions of the law." Although administrative detentions are not per se illegal under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) [text] and are permitted in situations of organized mass violence and emergency contexts, HRW analogizes Jordan's practices to the prolonged preventive detentions that took place under US auspices in Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive], and which were found to be illegal, arbitrary, and contrary to the ICCPR by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention [official website]. As a remedy, HRW proposes the examination of all administrative detentions and the unconditional "release all persons who are not suspected of having committed a criminal offense", followed by the absolute suspension of administrative detentions.

In May 2007, HRW urged the Jordanian government [press release] to free Dr. Ahmad Oweidi al-Abbadi [advocacy website], a former member of parliament and head of the Jordanian National Movement [party website], after a Jordan court sentenced him to two years in prison [JURIST report] for sending a slanderous e-mail to a US Senator. HRW argued that the court should not rely on laws that curb free speech and violate international human rights standards. Reporters Without Borders has also condemned [press release] Jordan for detaining al-Abbadi.

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