Jordan and the Death Penalty
On Sunday, December 21st, 2014, Al Jazeera reported that the Jordanian government has hung 11 citizens. According to the report, “The hanged men were among 120 Jordanians convicted of capital crimes in the last 10 years, according to the sources.” The Jordanian government has not used the death penalty since 2006, although they have argued that because of the rise in crime, there was a need to re-institute the death penalty” (Al Jazeera, 2014). The reason that they stopped the use of the death penalty had to do with calls by the United Nations Human Rights Council
However, human rights organizations and activists have been very upset and disappointed by this recent development. For example, Sarah Leah Whiston, the Middle East Director of Human Rights Watch was quoted as saying that “”With these executions, Jordan loses its standing as a rare progressive voice on the death penalty in the region… “Reviving this inherently cruel form of punishment is another way Jordan is backsliding on human rights.””
This is indeed a significant step back for the protection of human rights. Death penalties are not only against international law, but there are many other issues with the death penalty such as issues brought up with regards to taking of a life, the numerous cases where evidence was not always clear, or cases of those that were charged and found “guilty” to later be exonerated.
It is important for Jordan to go back to stopping the usage of the death penalty. Human rights organizations, as well as other international state actors must put pressure on the state to ensure that they end this action. This in no way suggests to reduce the power of the judicial system, but rather, the argument is to find alternative ways to hold individuals accountable, ways which of course can (and do) include life sentences. In fact, Jordan continues to use life-sentences for a number of those found guilty of crimes.