Monday, August 14, 2006

Extraordinary parliament session

Well, Parliament is due to convene next Wednesday for a month long extraordinary session. According to article 82 the constitution, the only issues that can be discussed during an extraordinary session are those which are specified by the royal decree ordering the convening of the session.

And there is a lot to do. The royal decree has about 20 proposed pieces of legislation to be considered. These include modifications to the penal code (canceling the death penalty on some crimes), modification of the press and publications law, the political parties’ law, the income tax law as well as the anti-terrorism law. Many of the provisions of the new legislations promise to be controversial, and it will be interesting to watch the debate on them to play out.

In my opinion, the most interesting will be the debate on the anti-terrorism law. The draft was published today. It defines a terror act as “Any predetermined act committed by any method which may lead to the death of any person or causing bodily harm or causes damage to public or private property or in the transportation system or the infrastructure or the facilities of international organizations or diplomatic missions if the purpose is to disrupt public order or to endanger society and it’s security or to disrupt the application of the constitution or laws or to influence the policy of the state or the government or to force it to implement or abstain from implementation of certain actions or to endanger national security by way of fear, terror or violence”. Earlier leaked proposals for the law drew criticism that they didn’t contain a definition for terror. It is clear that this definition was written to address this concern. The scope of the law is to provide a legal framework for security agencies by which they can preempt any terror activities.

The proposed law allows, among other things, for the public attorney to impose monitoring of suspected individuals, prevention of their travel, searching of their premises and the freezing of their funds for anywhere between three and six months. The decision of public attorney will be subject to review by the state security court and the appellate court. The law does not allow indefinite jailing, as some people have suggested. The law allows jailing of suspects for two weeks which can be extended for another two weeks in "justifiable" cases.

The number of laws being considered is quite large given the time frame available. I would hope that enough time will be available for a reasonable review for all of them. I will try to keep you posted on the most interesting developments.

11 Comments:

At 7:35 AM, Anonymous Nas said...

thanks for linking khalaf but to be fair i think you misread what i wrote. i didnt say that the law allows for indefinite jailing, i said jordan was following in the footsteps of other nations that passed similar laws.

anyways now that we know the language i believe the definition is pretty broad which was to be expected. how constitutes an influence on the country's policy?

while the framework might work well in preempting terrorist activities, it can also be used to curb political dissent just as easily.

 
At 7:38 AM, Blogger Khalaf said...

Nas: Sorry if I misrepresented what you said.

I think that the language is clear enough. "Any predetermined act committed by any method which may lead to the death of any person or causing bodily harm or causes damage to public or private property or in the transportation system or the infrastructure or the facilities of international organizations or diplomatic missions". What type of legitimate political dissent would fall into this type of behavior?

 
At 9:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

parliament? in hell?

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

 
At 9:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"go to your leftist blogs"

sorry I am not leftist

"hmm, Islamist?"

neither

"nationalist"

sorry

"revolutionary blogs?"

again, sorry

"why are you here?"

cant help the satirical situation: discussion on municipalities, jail terms...etc when hell is breaking lose.

 
At 9:48 AM, Blogger Hamzeh N. said...

I think the definition of what is an act of terror is actually very precise and good.

What I thought was very unclear though is what it says about extensions in article (4). It says that the prosecutor can extend the period of detention or freezing of assets, but it doesn't say whether they can keep extending it over and over again.

I think it is a must that this law explicitly says that there can only be one extension or that it says that anyone who falls under that article (4) cannot remain under it for more than a certain period of time (like 6 months).

Otherwise, the prosecutor is just gonna use suspecion as an excuse to freeze someone's assets and prevent them from travel or even put them in jail indefinitly.

It's just not clear I think.

 
At 10:26 AM, Blogger Khalaf said...

Anon: Maybe I should write about Mel Gibson for you.

Hamzeh: You are right. The number of times that injunctions can be renewed should be limited. This is especially true for jail time.

 
At 11:58 AM, Anonymous Nas said...

granted, what im talking about is the intention to influence policy. the very idea of a political demonstration is a social protest intended for influencing policy

 
At 5:12 PM, Blogger Hamzeh N. said...

Nas, I don't think the way it's written means that any act with the intention of influencing policy is considered an act of terrorism. Only acts that lead to the death or bodily harm, or damage to public or private property etc. etc. are included.

Now, a good question that I didn't think about before is, can they then charge people who riot and participate in damaging public/private property with terrorism? They don't even have to prove the guilt in this case, they can easily abuse article (4) and say there's reason to be suspecious of the person and hold them in jail or do any of the things mentioned in the law.

 
At 10:32 PM, Anonymous Nas said...

hamzeh, yeah buts that not what it says. when we have laws that seek to define an act we have to be specific. let us say that in the short run this is not what is meant by it and people are free to demonstrate against jordan's policies. what about 10 or 50 years from now, can the same law be used to curb protests.

what you suggested is just one flaw like i was pointing with regards to policy. if i damage public property, do i get charged with arson, do i pay a fine, or do i go to the state security court to be charged on acts of terrorism?

in other words, what im saying is that when establishing such laws we have to apply them in all their potential contexts. how will judges use or abuse them 50 years from now and not just today.

 
At 1:41 AM, Blogger Hamzeh N. said...

Nas, you're gonna hate me coz we're pretty much agreeing here, but I'm pretty sure that regarding "influencing policy", the law is actually written in a precise way that is not open to the kind of interpretation you're suggesting. Here's the Arabic version. See it's not talking about any act that aims to influence policies, it qualifies it with the description in bold and that description is pretty comprehensive.

كل عمل مقصود يرتكب باي وسيلة كانت يؤدي الى قتل اي شخص او التسبب بايذائه جسديا او ايقاع اضرار في الممتلكات العامة او الخاصة او في وسائط النقل او البيئة او في البنية التحتية او في مرافق الهيئات الدولية او البعثات الدبلوماسية


اذا كانت الغاية منه الاخلال بالنظام العام وتعريض سلامة المجتمع وامنه للخطر او تعطيل تطبيق احكام الدستور او القوانين او التأثير على سياسة الدولة او الحكومة او اجبارها على عمل ما او الامتناع عنه او الاخلال بالامن الوطني بواسطة التخويف او الترهيب او العنف

Anyway, I think people should ask for a clarification regarding the extensions mentioned in article (4). I hope it doesn't just pass the parliament unnoticed.

 
At 8:57 AM, Anonymous Nas said...

yeah i read the arabic version but having studied constitutional laws with some interest i personally believe that parts of this law can be left to interpretation

 

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