End of Defense Order No. 28 may pose some challenges, experts say

amman covid lockdown
A deserted Amman street in line with lockdowns dictated under defense orders. (File photo: Ameer Khalifeh/Jordan News)
AMMAN — With the end of Defense Order No. 28, which postponed the imprisonment of those who owe up to JD20,000, Jordan News spoke to various experts about the outcomes. اضافة اعلان
Here is what they had to say. 

According to Yahya Abu Aboud, president of the Jordan Bar Association, suspending the defense order means returning to the ordinary laws that regulate the relationship between creditors and debtors. 

The Execution Law, which is the most relevant law related to the regulation, was revised and implemented in August 2022. It gave the economy and contracting parties "three years to establish alternatives to imprisoning debtors in contractual obligations", said Abu Aboud. 

The law also specified the number of cases in which debtors may be imprisoned and clarified 13 cases in which they cannot be imprisoned. 

Abu Aboud also indicated that by simply "brandishing the potential of imprisonment, the debtor will seek to satisfy the creditor through settlement by paying 15 percent".

He also stressed that the new amendments aim to make a settlement between the two parties so that the economy can function properly.

Abu Aboud said the defense order "solved a problem at a certain point in time, but it also caused different problems."

"Some decisions were issued but were not implemented, so it was necessary to end Defense Order No. 28."

'Correct decision'?Lawyer Hussain Tawfeeq told Jordan News that the government's decision to cancel and suspend Defense Order No. 28 was correct for various reasons. The most important of which, he said. "is restoring the legal and constitutional legitimacy of the Execution Law and its amendments."

That is because "the Execution Law and its amendments required the judge to imprison the debtor who did not submit a settlement during the 15-day legal notification period". 

He added that the government had to expedite this decision because the creditor "was paralyzed both monetarily and legally".

He stressed that stopping the work of Defense Order No. 28 would contribute to "moving the wheel of the economy".

However, Lawyer Hassan Hattab, a member of the International Committee for Human Rights, told Jordan News that the government should have waited until the end of this year or until the World Health Organization officially announced the end of the pandemic. 
"We in Jordan are still suffering from the repercussions of the pandemic that disrupted the economy," he said.

The question of prison overcrowdingMany have voiced concerns over prison overcrowding with the end of the Defense Order. 

In Jordan, there are more than 19,000 inmates in 18 institutions designed to hold no more than 13,300, according to the latest statistics. The Public Security Directorate recently announced that the percentage of overcrowding in prisons reached 163 percent. 

Tawfeeq explained that prisons would "not face a crisis" because Article 23 of the Execution Law has narrowed the cases where the debtor may be imprisoned.

Hattab contended that prisons already suffer from overcrowding, which would overburden the security services and prisons.

Lawyer Taghreed Al-Dughmi told Jordan News with the expiration of Defense Order No. 28, which stopped imprisonment in amounts less than JD20,000, the implementation law will be applied, and anyone whose debt exceeds JD5,000 will be legally prosecuted.

She added that after the expiration of the period, the creditor would start filing cases in the courts to imprison the debtor. 

Minister of Justice Ahmed Ziadat recently revealed that a large number of the financially defaulted. 

As of April 20, there were about 158,000 citizens wanted in financial cases. Sixty-eight percent have a debt of less than JD5,000, and 87 percent have a debt of less than JD20,000.

Speaking before the Parliament's Legal Committee, Ziadat stated that 30,000 citizens had been sentenced but have not been arrested in financial cases, and their sentences vary from one year and up. 

Given the end of Defense Order No. 28, the numbers mentioned by the justice minister "will double," she said. 

Dughmi called for a review of alternatives and guarantees for the creditor, similar to the civil execution that is followed in many countries, such as the inability of the debtor to complete his transactions (such as issuing a professional license, a passport, or opening a bank account) except after settling his debts in the courts.

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