Laws and Policies Adopted By the Jordanian Government since 2001 to Confront Terrorism
Following the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States; Jordan, as many other countries have amended its legislation in order to take steps to confront potential terrorist attacks. Several amendments have been made to fight "terrorism" and restrictions have been posed on freedom of expression. Jordan is a member state in many international human rights agreement such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which Jordan has signed in 1976. In 1992, Jordan became a member in 1991 in the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Amendments have been made on the Jordanian Penal Code, according to which the definition of "terrorism" has been expanded, and several new crimes were added with wide definitions, restrictions of freedom of expression and journalism and expanding the range of crimes punishable by execution and life sentences. This law was passed – which was named "The Law Amending the Penal Code" (Temporary Law No. 54 for the year 2001) - after the occurrence of the 11th September attacks according to a temporary law. The amendment added a new definition for terrorism in Articles 147-1 from the Law Amending the Penal Code, terrorism became defined as: "Using violence or threatening to use it" in execution of an individual of collaborative work which aims at disturbing the public order or endangering the safety and security of society, as to impose terror among people, frightening them or risking their life and security to danger. This law expands the range of "terrorism" to include actions which are harmless to the environment or public, private and international utilities and property and diplomatic missions by occupation or take over or by exposing national resources to danger or disruption of the application of regulations of laws and the Constitution. The text is ambiguous and its wide drafting might give opportunity to different
interpretations. This wide definition is similar in many aspects to the definition of terrorism in Article 2 of the Arab Treaty to Fight Terrorism, which also defines it as "Every act of violence or of threatening to use it". The International Amnesty Organization expressed its anxiety in using the word "threatening", for such a word might lead to accusation of individuals who are not involved in terrorist acts based on their alleged affiliation with opposing groups who use violence. In additions to this, the phrase "acts which are harmless to the environment" is quite ambiguous and could be interpreted as minor harm caused by peaceful demonstrators, as well as the phrase "Taking over or occupying diplomatic mission", in the absence of any clear definition according to which an act would be considered an act of terrorism, could be used against individuals protesting in front of an embassy. This may endanger the freedom of joining societies and freedom of opinion and expression. Furthermore; Article 147-2 from the new Law considers an act of terrorism any banking transaction especially deposit of money in a bank in the kingdom or any financial institution and their money transferring; "if it is revealed that it is suspicious and relevant to an act of terrorism", and according to Article 147-2 (C), the bank or financial institution employee who conducted the process and is aware of it is punished by imprisonment, and the money which was reserved would be confiscated. The law expands the scope of "terrorist" crimes punishable by execution or life sentence. Article 148 from the amended Penal Code, sentences to death any individual who commits a terrorist act leading to death of a person. Article 148- 4 (C) sentences to death if the act was committed "using explosive substances or inflammable or toxic or incendiary products or epidemic or biological, chemical or radiological or others similar", whether this act leads to death or not. And among the acts which are punishable by life sentence, disrupting communications, computer systems and hacking their networks or jamming it. (Article 148 -3 (B))
Major amendments were also made on Article 149, amongst it new political crimes against the country. Article 149-1 states that, among other things, the following: "Anyone who has committed any action that would undermine the political regime in the Kingdom or incitement to combat it, and every one who has committed an individual or collaborative action with the purpose of changing the economic, social or basic conditions of society and the state's entity shall be sentenced to hard labour for life". Also, anyone who has held hostages with the purpose of blackmailing a private or official body, especially if this action leads to harm, will be punished by life imprisonment with hard labour and by execution if his actions lead to death. The new law has cancelled Article 149 – 3 from the Penal Code in application. * Restrictions on freedom of expression and assembly: According to Law No. 45 for the year 2003, Article 150 was expanded in the Penal Code adding more restrictions on freedom of expression as it states that " every writing, speech or action intended to or resulting in inciting sectarianism, racism or incitement to conflict between communities and the various elements of the nation is punishable by imprisonment for not less than six months and not more than three years or a fine not exceeding five hundred dinars". Several new crimes were listed with vague definitions such as: abuse of the national unity, abuse of national unity; abuse of authority of the state, integrity or reputation; Incitement to unrest or protests or to hold public meetings; Offend the dignity of individuals and the reputations and personal freedoms; The destabilization of society through the promotion of delinquency or moral corruption; dissemination of false information or hearsay. The penalty for such crimes to prison sentences of not less than three months and not more than six months, or a fine of not more than 5000 Jordanian dinars, or both. The Act also provides for the closure of the newspaper, which publishes such material.
In another serious attack on the right to freedom of expression, the crimes committed under Law No. 45, including the amended article 150 of the Penal Code, are within the jurisdiction of the State Security Court, which do not provide guarantees of independence and impartiality itself provided by the ordinary courts. Under Law No. 45, the state security court will have far broader jurisdiction to many persons who may be considered prisoners of opinion, and brought to trial for expressing their opinions peacefully. The Commission on Human Rights, in commenting on the implementation of Jordan to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in 1994, expressed concern at "the continuing state security court in the exercise of private jurisdiction ", and recommended that the cancellation of this jurisdiction should be considered. And on 1/11/2006 Act No. (55) For the year (2006) the Prevention of Terrorism Act was passed and it included the following acts of terrorism: A- All provision or collection of funds intended to be used for a terrorist act or with the knowledge that they will be used for such act whether the act occurs or not. B- Recruitment of persons within or outside the Kingdom to join terrorist groups. C- Establishment or affiliation to a group or organization or association with intent to commit terrorist acts under this Act, the Prosecutor of the State Security Court can issue decisions which include: 1- Imposing censorship on the residence of the suspect and his communications. 2- Preventing travel of suspect. 3- Inspecting his whereabouts and reservation on anything related to terrorist activity. 4- Holding any funds suspected of being linked to terrorist activities and the resolution would be valid for one month and is subject to appeal before the State Security Court and the State Security Court's decision is subject to
appeal before the Court of Cassation, this law also imposed penalties for not passing knowledge or who submits false or misleading information or different for security services and stipulates the sentence of one month to three years according to this law. We could notice that some of these laws have imposed harsh penalties and broadly worded and created crimes outside the field of the criminal penalty code... And thus reducing the legal and constitutional freedoms previously enjoyed by the Jordanian citizen which indicates that these laws came to reimpose custom laws in the country. Second: at the level of executive procedures: Following the issuance of Security Council resolutions on counter-terrorism and in particular Resolution No. 1373 the Jordanian government has taken a series of executive procedures in the light of these decisions. It has instructed all banks operating in the Kingdom to guarantee their adherence to examine the accounts of their clients and to make sure the freezing of assets will take place at the request of the government in line with the resolution, and also includes special instructions to combating money laundering. In the area of issuing identity cards and passports, instructions were given to be issued in accordance with international standards to prevent forgery. The Jordanian security agencies conduct procedures for the exchange of intelligence information to serve the fight against terrorism with many friendly nations and (Interpol) and also conduct some of those operations within the bilateral agreements on security cooperation. Also, the security agencies control the sale and purchase of raw materials used in the manufacture of hazardous materials to ensure that they are not used for terrorist purposes.
Third: at the level of international treaties and conventions relating to counter-terrorism: The Jordanian government joined seven international conventions on international terrorism, namely: 1. Convention on Offenses and Certain Other Acts Committed on Board Aircraft signed in Tokyo on September 14, 1963. 2. Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Seizure of Aircraft, signed at The Hague on December 16 1970. 3. Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Civil Aviation signed in Montreal on September 23, 1971. 4. Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of Crimes against Internationally Protected Persons, including Diplomatic Agents, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 14, 1973. 5. The International Convention against the Taking of Hostages, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 17, 1979. 6. Protocol for the Suppression of Unlawful violence in the aircraft Serving International Civil Aviation, signed at Montreal on February 24, 1998. 7. Convention on the Marking of Plastic Explosives for the Purpose of Detection signed in Montreal in March 1991. - The government of Jordan has also signed the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism.