Jordan and the Future of Death Penalty

[22-12-2014 05:33 PM]

AMMONNEWS - By Abdelrahman Mitib Altakhaineh - Jordan ended an eight-year moratorium on executions on Sunday 21st December 2014 when 11 men were hanged at dawn. Authorities said the men were all Jordanians convicted of murder, with no links to politics or extremism, in 2005 and 2006. Jordan’s last previous execution, in March 2006, was carried out for a man convicted of killing his wife and baby."The authorities have been confronted in recent years with a wave of violence, criminality and murders and want to meet the challenge by opting for deterrence and the renewed application of the death penalty," said OraibRantawi, head of Amman's Al-Quds Centre for Political Studies. It has been noticed that the number of felonies and other crimes in the country increased to 33,800 last year from 24,700 in 2009, according to Jordan’s Department of Statistics, but the kingdom is generally seen as one of the safest in the region.

In response to that, the Swedish ambassador to Jordan, Helena Rietz, expressed her concern over the executions, saying that the European Union and Sweden urged Jordan to abolish the death penalty. Also, the British ambassador to Jordan, Peter Millett, expressed his regret over the executions. “We urge Jordan to put in place a moratorium on any further use of the death penalty,” Mr. Millett said. “We consider that its use undermines human dignity, that there is no conclusive evidence that it has any value as a deterrent.”

Although I am not totally against the death penalty, I do condemn the current executions in Jordan for many reasons. First and foremost, the men who were executed have already been punished by serving a sentence for ten to twelve years in prison. The men had been convicted of murder charges from 2002 to 2004, according to a statement released by the Interior Ministry.This psychological torture is inhumane and the convicted should not be left wondering about their fate this long. The Jordanian jurisdiction system is flawed. In my opinion, the judges should be decisive from the very start about the sentence period. In the current case, it would be fair to change the death penalty to life imprisonment since the condemned have already been punished for several years in prison.

Secondly, the region is witnessing political crises and a wave of protesting movements for the last three years. These executions could be interpreted as a threat to any rebel and political opponent of the government. As a result, some opponents could start working undercover by hiding their political agenda. It goes without saying that any hidden activity will result in instability and violence. On the top of that, the next governments may use it as a tool to get rid of their political opponents.

Thirdly, both judges and lawyers have never imagined that the death penalty will be brought into effect after eight years of abolishing the sentence. Had the lawyers known, they would have exerted more effort to prevent their defendants' executions.

Finally, I would argue that some people who were executed had been found innocent years later throughout the history. This makes it really difficult to know if someone is really guilty or not as some people still deny the crimes they have been accused of. I do urge the Jordanian government to abolish the death penalty unless the convicted are serial killers, and they have already admitted committing their crimes.

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