In response to the mass execution of 15 people in Jordan on Saturday, several human rights groups, including Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website], condemned [AI press release] the hanging as being secretive and conducted “without transparency. This mass execution was largest ever [Guardian report] in one day in Jordan’s history. Samah Hadid, deputy director of AI’s regional office in Beirut, called the executions “a big step backwards on human rights protection in Jordan.” Among those executed, 10 had been convicted for some form of terrorist activity. Hadid also expressed concern that some of those executed may have had their confessions induced through torture or duress. Over the past several years, more than 100 detainees have been sentenced to death in Jordan, many of whom were involved in militant Islamist groups, in hopes of deterring terrorist activities. Despite their goal of deterrence, Sarah Leah Whitson, the Middle East director at Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website], stated that “[j]ust the terror attacks of the last two years shows that reinstating the death penalty in Jordan has done nothing to reduce the incidents of such violent attacks.” From 2006 to 2014, Jordan had held a moratorium on capital punishment and, according to AI, Jordan had been the leader in the Middle East with respect to refraining from use of the death penalty.
Jordan has faced increasing criticism for their human rights violations in recent years. In September 2015, HRW urged Jordan to strengthen the country’s penal code [JURIST report] in order to strengthen human rights. In April 2015, HRW released a statement [JURIST report] denouncing as a violation of the laws of war an airstrike led by the Saudi Arabian coalition that led to the destruction of a humanitarian warehouse in Yemen. The attack said to be executed by the Saudi coalition, including Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Qatar, Sudan and the United Arab Emirates as a response to the ousting of former president Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi’s government in January. In February 2015, a Jordanian court sentenced [JURIST report] a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood to 18 moths in prison for openly criticizing a decision by the United Arab Emirates (UAE). In December 2015, the Interior Ministry of Jordan announced [JURIST report] that 11 men were executed by hangings, marking the first time Jordanian authorities delivered capital punishment in eight years.