General amnesty: An issue that elicits debate

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AMMAN — While Lower House members recently asked for the general amnesty law to be put into application, the government said it had no intention to do so. The issue has been a topic of debate for quite some time, both because some believe people are detained for minor offences and because the prison population is swelling and something needs to be done about it.اضافة اعلان

Law Professor at Mutah University Abdelraouf Al-Kasasbeh told Jordan News that the general amnesty law should be linked to the circumstances surrounding the crimes, adding that “it is hard” to give his opinion on the issue, “since it has pros and cons and a comprehensive study should look into its economic and social repercussions. So it is not a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ matter”.

Kasasbeh, who “as a principle”, is “against general amnesty” and insists that “those who committed crimes should be served a due punishment”, believes that “economically, the state’s Treasury would be impacted by the application of general amnesty if prisoners are absolved of paying the due fines to the government.”

According to Kasasbeh, concerned ministries should conduct a study before the government announces general amnesty, “so as to reduce its impact on all levels”.

Lawyer Adel Azzam Adel Saqf Alhait views general amnesty differently; he sees it as a “reconciliation between the state and society”.

“General amnesty does not ignore the rights of the victims, since the application of this law depends on the victims’ decision to drop their personal grievances against the convicts,” Saqf Alhait said.

For instance, in 2019 and 2011, the application of the general amnesty was linked to the personal right of the victim, he added, indicating that this law is balanced, for, on the one hand, it is “compassion and tolerance, and on the other, it stipulates returning and maintaining the rights of the victims”.

Is the law fair?

“Of course; first because it is a constitutional guarantee, and second because it must balance the interests” of two parties, Saqf Alhait said.

If the government is to announce the general amnesty again, it should be broader and more inclusive than that of 2019, said Saqf Alhait who added that “since I became a lawyer, around three general amnesties were announced. The government usually applies this law once each five to seven years.”

He added that “back then, the general amnesties did not include all crimes”, and called for the victims’ rights to be preserved.

According to Saqf Alhait, the long term a prisoner is supposed to serve in prison “will prevent him/her from ever thinking to commit that crime again, even if that prisoner is to be included in the general amnesty”. This assertion, he said, is based on his “knowledge in the crime and punishment science”.

The punishment of highest-risk crimes, such as terrorism, could be reduced to half, he said, giving these perpetrators a chance to reintegrate in the society, rather than including these wrongdoers in the general amnesty.

“In my opinion, general amnesty leads to political and social reconciliation,” Saqf Alhait said, adding that each prisoner costs the government around JD13 a day, which is a burden, and the jailed person cannot work to support his family.

With this in mind, “amnesty could be a positive step, but do not forget that for the law to be just, it should respect and take in consideration the rights of the victim, such as owed debts or ‘diya’ (blood money to the family of a dead victim), among others,” said Saqf Alhait.

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