UN human rights body calls for release of detainees, amendment to Crime Prevention Law

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights 
(File Photo: Jordan News)
AMMAN — The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) expressed concern Friday about the continued detention of peaceful activists in Jordan since last February, under the crime prevention and  cybercrime prevention laws, saying that these arrests are "part of a deliberate campaign to silence dissent".اضافة اعلان

UN human rights spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani said in a press statement that “Jordanian authorities have carried out a series of arrests of activists under the Crime Prevention Law, a broad law that allows administrative governors to detain anyone ‘considered a danger to society’ without charge and without effective access to legal proceedings.”

Twelve activists are still in detention on charges of "spreading false news" under Article 15 of the Cybercrime Prevention Law and "inciting sedition" under Article 150 of the Penal Code, the statement said.

Some detainees “were arrested simply for planning a protest, others for protesting the results of local elections, and at least one was arrested after paying bail for a person detained earlier. Police reportedly stormed the homes of some activists at night, in some cases accompanied by counter-terrorism security forces. Usually they are refused bail, and when they are offered, it is very expensive”.

According to the OHCHR, at least two detainees are on hunger strike; the office expressed concern about their health condition, and called on authorities to provide them with appropriate medical care, and respect their will and dignity.

The OHCHR urged the authorities to release all people detained for exercising their right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, to ensure that individuals can exercise these rights, and to address their grievances.

It also called on the Jordanian authorities to amend the Crime Prevention Law in order to bring it in line with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Jordan is a party.

Member of Parliament Saleh Al-Armouti told Jordan News that the OHCHR statement is accurate and called on the government to release prisoners of conscience, who are under administrative arrest, without legal basis.

“Their arrest offends Jordan,” and those who observe the rule of law “cannot accept attacks on the judicial authority”.

Armouti added that recent policies have caused Jordan to drop four places on the human rights index.

The arrest campaigns, he said, “is terrorizing the Jordanian citizen so that he does not express his opinion”, adding that even in the martial law era no such arrests were made; “there was respect for the judiciary”.

Armouti said he had asked the ministers of justice and of interior to be allowed to visit these detainees, and that he had asked the chief public prosecutor to release them.

Anas, son of detainee Abed Tawahieh, told Jordan News that "my father was arrested on February 13, 2022, and he is currently in Bab Al-Hawa prison in Irbid". Arrested on charges of "spreading rumors and false news that would undermine the prestige of the state”, he said that his father was to be under administrative detention for approximately three months.

According to Anas Tawahieh, nine people were recently arrested and some 60 people have been detained on different charges, such as spreading fake news that could undermine the prestige and position of the state, stirring up sectarian and civil strife, slandering public bodies, attempting to kill and resist security men.

Those arrested have been sent to multiple remote prisons “to complicate matters for the detainees and their families”.

Tawahieh said “we have entered a new period of suppression of freedoms and this will lead to more hatred, considering that the reasons for arrest are not convincing”.

His father, he said, “did not offend anyone; his words are balanced and his fault is that he expresses his opinion, and the result was that he was arrested”.

National Center for Human Rights Attorney General Commissioner Alaa Al-Armouti told Jordan News that the center issued two statements regarding the detainees, adding that the Crime Prevention Law is not used correctly, as it “is being applied to the activists or those who think or protest”.

He added: “It seems that we are facing a new policy, using harshness and cruelty toward activists, and this is an unprecedented situation”.

He also said that “we, as a center, make frequent visits to check on the health of the detainees and follow up on their complaints, if any”.

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