Amnesty International Comments Against the Jordon Government's Closure of the JSCR and JPA

Nov 12, 2002 03:00 AM EST

Amnesty International, the worldwide organization that works to defend human rights criticize the Jordan Government for it's arbitrary closure of the Jordanian Society for Citizens' Rights (JSCR) and the continued detention of three trade unionists and members of the Anti-Normalization Committee of the Jordanian Professional Associations (JPA).

On October 28, the Minister of Interior ordered the closure of JSCR and JPA for its violation of the Societies and Social Institutions Acts. The JSCR and JPA allegedly failed to submit yearly reports on their activities and finances for the years 1999, 2000 and 2001. They were also charged of refusing to allow the Ministry of Interior an internal document and premise search.

The JSCR was closed in spite of a letter sent by Fawzi Samhuri, the Director of JSCR, to the Minister of the Interior, confirming that the JSCR had submitted its 1999 activities reports and sending copies of its 2000 and 2001 reports that were approved by it¡¯s JSCR members in a meeting on Oct. 18, 2002. The JSCR also denies receiving any request from the Ministry of Interior to search the premises and documents of JSCR.

JSCR is the first civil society institution in Jordan to be closed since 1989. Amnesty International fears that the decision by the Ministry of the Interior to close the JSCR may be politically motivated. "The trend to silence peaceful critics and deny them their rights to freedom of expression and association continues," Amnesty International said. "These repressive measures constitute yet another attempt by the Jordanian government to gag civil society," said Amnesty International.

The Anti-Normalization Committee, whose supporters are highly critical of the peace agreement between Israel and Jordan, is at risk of being outlawed by the Jordanian government. On 7 October three members of the Anti-Normalization Committee, 'Ali Abu- Sukkar, Badi' Rafay'ah and Maysarah Malas, were arrested on charges of membership of an illegal organization after they reportedly distributed leaflets critical of Jordan's' official stance towards Israel. Amnesty International considers 'Ali Abu- Sukkar, Badi' Rafay'ah and Maysarah Malas to be possible prisoners of conscience detained solely for the peaceful expression of their opinions, and calls for their immediate release.

Amnesty International is concerned that the temporary laws, passed through a provisional order in the wake of the 11 September events, place limitations on freedom of expression by making illegal a number of vaguely defined acts such as calling for unauthorized public meetings, causing harm to the reputation of individuals, harming national unity, and disseminating false information.

Amnesty International has called for these new laws threatening the right to freedom of expression to be immediately and unconditionally repealed, as a number of journalists, human rights activists and peaceful demonstrators have been unfairly detained under their provisions.

By Pauline J.
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