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Homeland Security

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

JORDAN: Rights groups concerned over anti-terror draft laws

AMMAN, 17 November 2005 (IRIN) - New anti-terror legislation in Jordan, proposed in the wake of recent deadly terror attacks in the capital Amman, will serve to curtail civil liberties and will represent a step backwards in terms of democracy, a leading Jordanian rights group warned on Wednesday.

“We don’t need these kinds of laws,” said Nizam Assaf, director of the Amman Centre for Human rights Studies. “Jordan already has many mechanisms for fighting terrorism.”

The new bill, which will be debated by Parliament on 1 December, lays down stiff punishments for anyone seen as condoning or supporting acts of “terror.”

In addition, article 14 of the draft states that all citizens renting apartments or office space to non-Jordanians must report specific details about tenants to the authorities within 48 hours after the signing of any leases.

Required personal information will include names, nationalities and passport numbers. Those who do not comply will “face penalties”, according to the draft law.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has also expressed concern over the proposed law: "HRW will be even more concerned over the situation of the undocumented Iraqi population in Jordan who have no refugee status," Christoph Wilcke, researcher for HRW said from New York.

Since terrorist attacks in the coastal area of Aqaba'last August, Jordan has been 'systematically expelled undocumented Iraqis from the country, back to Iraq',according to Wilcke.

"This is very worrying", he added, "because it goes against all human rights conventions". "These people came to Jordan escaping the war and now they are being sent back there again".

There are an estimated an 400,000 Iraqis living in Jordan.

Jordan’s King Abdullah II has assured foreigners living in the kingdom, particularly Iraqis, that no unwarranted action would be taken against them. The king referred to Iraqi expatriates as “our dear brothers,” who enjoyed the right to “live in dignity in their second homeland.”

He added: “Their security is our security, and we will not accept that any harm should come to them.”

The draft law comes in the wake of a series of explosions on 9 November in the capital, which targeted the Grand Hyatt, Radisson and Days Inn hotels. The explosions killed 59 and injured nearly 100, according to reports by security officials.

The “Al-Qaeda” terror group allegedly claimed responsibility for the attacks, which were perpetrated by suicide bombers, some believed to be of Iraqi origin.

Assaf urged the authorities to make the proposed legislation public so it can be discussed with local and international human rights organisations before being presented to parliament.

“The government makes more mistakes by minimising the rights of citizens because of the attacks,” Assaf warned.

Themes: (IRIN) Governance



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