Jordan: UN human rights expert urges changes to anti-terrorism law

8 September 2006

A United Nations human rights expert has called for amendments to Jordan’s recently passed anti-terrorism law, citing concerns over fairness and protection.

“This law as it currently stands could negatively impact on a number of human rights,” said Martin Scheinin, the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, said in a statement released in Geneva today.

Voicing regret that the Jordanian Parliament had passed the law on 29 August, Mr. Scheinin said he had written to the Government in July highlighting key concerns. The “overly broad definition of terrorism… is vague regarding the elements of intent and aim and can be seen to be at variance with the principle of legality.”

A number of procedural safeguards “appear to have been compromised,” he said, warning that this could negatively impact on the right to a fair trial and due process.

Powers that the law gives to law enforcement, security forces and the Public Prosecutor with regard to detention, search and arrest “effectively negate the right to privacy, freedom and movement and the presumption of innocence,” Mr. Scheinin noted.

The military courts designated as having sole jurisdiction of terrorism cases “may lack judicial independence and deny a number of procedural guarantees.”

As the law awaits ratification, he pointed out that effective measures to combat terrorism are necessary but States have a duty to ensure that any such measures comply with their obligations under international law.

 

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