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.
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.
In 2017, 15
people have been executed, 10
of them for terrorism-related acts, in what is considered as the largest number of people executed in one day in Jordan's recent history. According to official judicial sources, 94
people - including around 10 women - remain on death row in Jordan, most of them convicted of murder or rape, as of March 2017. Hands off Cain
collected news of at least 16 death sentences – including two women - , 6 of which were by the Court of Cassation.
On 20 October 2017, the Government of Jordan said before the UN Committee on Human Rights in Geneva that according to a recent study, 81 per cent
of the Jordanian population supported the retention of the death penalty. 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.
According to human rights activists say militants are put on trial in military courts that are unconstitutional and lack proper legal safeguards, adding that there are growing cases of mistreatment and of extracting confessions under duress.
There was a huge internaional outcry, when, 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 2017, Jordan executed in one day 15
people, of them 10
for terrorism, the largest number of people in Country's recent history. Hands off Cain
recorded at least 6
death sentences for terrorism, 5 by the Court of Cassation.United Nations
In October 2013, Jordan was reviewed under the Universal Periodic Review of the UN Human Rights Council: over 170 recommendations were received, of which 126 have been accepted and the remaining recommendations have been "noted". Among these, 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.
The UPR mechanism has become a major tool for reform and has been adopted by the Kingdom's civil society as a useful tool to push the government to improve its record on human rights. For its part, the Jordan Government created in 2014 at the Prime Ministry a permanent human rights coordinator’s office headed by Basel Tarawneh, which has been engaged in this process. In preparation for the upcoming UPR in Geneva in 2018, the government suggested that the national delegation to Geneva is made up of the government and the civil society. Reports of both are to be coordinated and presented as a single national report.
On 20 October 2017, the Human Rights Committee completed its consideration of the fifth periodic report of Jordan on its implementation of the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Presenting the report, Saja Majali, Permanent Representative of Jordan to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that since the presentation of its fourth periodic report, many changes had taken place in the region which had had serious ramifications for Jordan. With regard questions raised by experts on the death penalty, the delegation emphasised that Jordan was considered a country that strived to promote human rights. It had taken many measures to protect fundamental freedoms and to ensure that national legislation was in line with ratified international human rights instruments. The Criminal Code imposed penalties for crimes, one of them being the death penalty. It deterred crimes from being committed. That penalty and its implementation were compatible with international texts. Indeed, the Covenant stipulated that the death penalty should be confined to the most serious crimes. The application of the death penalty in Jordan could not take place in an arbitrary manner. It could only be imposed on individuals above the age of 18, and it could not be applied to pregnant women or to women who had just given birth.
In December 2018, Jordan abstained on the Resolution on a Moratorium on the use of the Death Penalty at the UN General Assembly.