Bill reinstating article 308 appears on bureau website before being withdrawn

prime ministry building
(Photo: Jordan News)
AMMAN — Amendments to the Penal Code that would have reinstated parts of Article 308, which exempted offenders from punishment in cases of sexual-based offenses if a perpetrator married their victim, were published on the Legislation and Opinion Bureau’s website before being withdrawn on Wednesday, Al-Ghad News reported.اضافة اعلان

Minister of State for Prime Ministry Affairs Ibrahim Jazi explained that the Prime Ministry had referred the “reasons” for a draft amendment to the Penal Code to the Legislation and Opinion Bureau, without approval of reinstating Article 308. 

Accordingly, this article will be deleted by the bureau and will not be included in the draft amendments to the Penal Code, Jazi said.

According to what appeared in the draft, the amendment would have added: “Except under the circumstance of repetition — if a valid marriage is entered between a perpetrator of one of the offenses set forth in this chapter and a victim over 15 years of age, and the sexual acts were carried out with her consent, and the court established, through a circumstantial and investigation carried out by a competent committee that the court chose, that the victim has a social or personal interest in the marriage, then the proceedings shall cease and the sentence would be overturned if a conviction was rendered.”

The draft also stated that: “The Public Prosecutor’s office restores its right to pursue public proceedings and carry out sentences before three years pass from the offense, and five years after the offense, if the marriage ends with the divorce of the woman.”

In 2017, the Jordanian Parliament approved the abolition of Article 308, which exempted an assailant from punishments for all sexually-based offenses including, rape, sexual assault, and statutory rape if an assailant married their victim. 

The 2017 amendments were made to prevent impunity for sexual offenses by removing the ability of assailants to avoid prosecution of these crimes and to punish offenders in all cases regardless of marriage. 

The amendments, at the time, followed recommendations from the Royal Commission for the Development of the Judiciary and Strengthening the Rule of Law, which were formally adopted by the Jordanian Prime Ministry after the commission’s findings were presented to His Majesty King Abdullah. 

Prior to 2017, Article 308 allowed offenders to avoid prosecution if they married their victim and if that marriage did not end in divorce “without a legitimate cause if the assault happened less than three years prior, and five years have not passed. 

Salma Al-Nims, the secretary-general of the Jordanian National Commission for Women expressed the commissions unequivocal rejection of the draft amendment to Al-Ghad News before the draft was withdrawn, stating: “We, as the national commission, are disappointed that this text has been amended and published on the website of the Law and Opinion Bureau without prior consultation with the commission.”

“I am surprised that this draft amendment is introduced at a time where there is a committee at the Ministry of Justice delegated to review all legislation to ensure their compliance with international human rights conventions. The committee emphasized the importance of abolishing Article 308,” she added.

“The amended article does not offer any protection for victims. The return of this article would be a sword on the necks of victims who may feel pressured to say that the relationship was consensual, as it has been long demonstrated in previous years,” Nims said.

She also added that the return of the article would have exposed girls and their families to extortion from criminals, and if there were prior consensual intention of marriage then the case would not have reached the courts. 

She concluded that this amendment to the article is a means for the government to evade protecting these girls. “We need rehabilitation and protection programs for these girls. Not to marry them to a perpetrator.”

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