Jordan approves first anti-terror law

Some lawmakers say bill is a clear violation of public law and human rights.

jordan anti terror rally (photo credit: AP)
jordan anti terror rally
(photo credit: AP)
A majority of Jordan's parliament on Sunday endorsed the country's first anti-terrorism law, despite objections by some lawmakers that the bill curtails public freedoms. Jordan's King Abdullah II, who is also expected to sign the bill into law, called for the drafting of strict legislation for combating terrorism following November's triple Amman hotel blasts, which killed 60 people and three Iraqi suicide bombers linked to al-Qaida in Iraq. The new anti-terrorism law, passed by a vote of acclamation in the Chamber of Deputies, is the first legislation in Jordan to specifically tackle issues considered a hazard to national security. Authorities previously depended on the country's penal code to handle terrorism-related issues. Independent lawmaker Mahmoud Kharabsheh said the legislation restricted public freedoms, because it gave the state and military prosecutors considerable powers in investigating terror cases. "The bill is a clear violation of public law and human rights," he said. "People shouldn't be detained simply because they are suspected of wrongdoing." A coalition of 15 Islamist lawmakers who representing the Islamic Action Front - the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood Movement - also denounced the law, saying it encouraged terrorism because its "unjust clauses and sever punishments will oppress many people and lead to the creation of more terror groups." The terrorism law deems that relations with any terrorist group and organization is an act of terror, whether through direct action or indirectly through financing. The bill also states that recruiting people for domestic or foreign terror networks is a terrorist action, as well as possessing, manufacturing or transporting any raw material that can be used in the production of weapons for use in attacks. Suspects can be detained for up to 30 days with no access to legal counsel, but after that period, they must either be released or formally charged. Under the penal code, terror suspects could be held up to 14 days of questioning, which could be renewable. The anti-terrorism law allows Jordanian prosecutors to also place terror suspects under tight surveillance and bar them from leaving the country. It specifies that terrorism-related cases must be tried by a military court.