government: parliamentary constitutional monarchy
state of civil and political rights: Partly free
constitution: 1 January 1952, amended many times
legal system: based on Islamic law and French codes; judicial review of legislative acts in a specially provided High Tribunal
legislative system: bicameral National Assembly (Majlis al-'Umma) consist of Senate and House of Representatives
judicial system: Court of Cassation, Supreme Court
religion: Muslim majority; Christian minority
death row: 114 (according to Government at the end of 2015)
year of last executions: 0-0-0
death sentences: 6
international treaties on human rights and the death penalty:
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
Convention on the Rights of the Child
Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
Statute of the International Criminal Court (which excludes the death penalty)
The legal system in Jordan is based on Islamic law for both civil and criminal matters, except for non-Muslim communities’ members.
Thirty-eight crimes are punishable by death in Jordan, as stipulated in five laws: Military Penal Code, Penal Code, Guns and Ammunitions Law, State Secrets Law and Narcotics Law. However, in August 2006, Jordan abolished the death penalty for crimes related to drugs, weapons and explosives. In 2010, amendments to the Jordanian Penal Code removed the death penalty for crimes of armed rebellion against the constitutional authorities and arson resulting in death, replacing it with a maximum of 30-year-jail sentence.
Article 93 of the Constitution reads that “no death sentence may be carried out unless ratified by the King. Every such sentence shall be submitted to him by the Council of Ministers along with the council’s view on it.”
On 21 December 2014, eight years after Jordan suspended its death penalty, eleven murder convicts were executed by hanging in the Swaqa corrections and rehabilitation centre. Earlier 2014, several Jordanian lawmakers called for unfreezing the implementation of capital punishment in order to curb the recent rise in crime rates. Capital punishment had not been carried out since 2006 only due to His Majesty King Abdullah’s will and not out of an official stance.
According to official data, 52 people were executed in the country since the beginning of 2000, all of whom were convicted for murder, terrorism or sexual assault charges.
Two executions were carried out in 2015 [See Chapter “The War on Terror”].
Three new death sentences were imposed in 2015, one for rape, the other two for murder. At the end of 2015, there were 114 people on death row.
No execution is recorded in 2016 and 14 new death sentences were imposed according Hands off Cain.
The War on Terror
On 22 April 2014, the House of Representatives endorsed the draft anti-terrorism law, maintaining the death penalty for certain crimes tagged as terror acts. In a rare case concerning such an important law, the lawmakers debated the bill and okayed it in one day, through morning and evening meetings. Those who commit terrorist crimes that result in the death of innocent people, partial or total damage of facilities and buildings, and entail the use of explosives, poisons, chemical, biochemical or radioactive materials, face the death sentence, according to the draft bill.
Any attempt on the life of the King, the Queen or Crown Prince, or any act that entails armed insurgency against legitimate authorities is listed as a terrorist crime.
Minister of Interior Hussein Majali said the draft bill considers only hostile actions against legitimate authorities as terrorist crime, “but not those against illegitimate authorities.” His remarks came in response to several MPs’ remarks on excluding actions of resistance against Israeli authorities from this bill. “The [Israeli] occupation is not a legitimate authority,” hence resisting it is not considered an act of terrorism, Majali explained.
On 4 February 2015, Jordan executed two Al-Qaeda prisoners by hanging in retaliation for the killing of a Jordanian pilot by the Islamic State (IS) group. Twenty-six-year-old Lt. Muath Al-Kaseasbeh was burned alive by Islamic State militants, according to a purported video of the violence released on 3 February. In the 20-minute video purportedly showing his killing, he is shown wearing an orange jumpsuit. He stands in an outdoor cage as a masked militant ignites a line of fuel leading to it. Al-Kaseasbeh had fallen into the hands of the militants in December when his F-16 crashed near Raqqa, Syria, while he was flying a mission as part of the U.S.-led air campaign against the IS. In a first response to the killing of the pilot, Jordan executed a failed suicide bomber, Sajida al-Rishawi, and Ziad al-Karbouly, two Iraqis linked to Al-Qaeda. The executions took place at Swaqa prison about 50 miles south of the Jordanian capital of Amman. Previously, Jordan had offered to trade the female Al-Qaeda operative for the pilot, but froze any swap after failing to receive any proof that the pilot was still alive. Jordanian TV said the pilot was killed as long ago as 3 January. Al-Rishawi had been sentenced to death after her 2005 role in a triple hotel bombing that killed 60 people in Amman orchestrated by Al-Qaeda. Al-Karbouly was sent to death row in 2008 for plotting terror attacks on Jordanians in Iraq.
In October 2013, Jordan was reviewed under the Universal Periodic Review of the UN Human Rights Council. The recommendations to establish an official moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty and acceding to the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights did not enjoy the support of Jordan.
In December 2016, Jordan abstained on the Resolution on a Moratorium on the use of the Death Penalty at the UN General Assembly.