King Abdulla II of Jordan has recently amended the anti-terrorism law nearly eight years after the initial anti-terrorism law was passed. The original law protected the Jordan community against individuals involved in terrorist activity against the country. However, with the recent activity occurring in nearby Syria, the Jordanian government has found it necessary to amend the law to provide more protection to its citizens. However the real question here is whether this new law will in fact provide additional protection to the people.
The new amendment has been said to give a wider definition to the term “terrorism.” The broad view under the amendment is that anyone who interferes with the country’s relationship with foreign states could be punished from committing terrorist activity. The definition of terrorism also includes “any act meant to create sedition, harm property or jeopardize international relations, or use any Internet or social media to promote terrorist thinking.” The penalty for committing any of these deeds ranges from 10 years in prison to facing the death penalty.
The initial reason behind passing the amendment was to prevent future attacks from occurring on Jordanian soil. Government officials state that they hope that the passing of the amendment will help the country cope with the influx of Jordanian soldiers who are returning from the war in Syria. However, others who are opposed to the new amendment find that the broader interpretation of the word terrorism will instead have a negative impact on the rights of the people to free speech and expression. Those opposed to the new law found that with the removal of the requirement of an act of violence in the new definition, this law could have other hidden means besides ending terrorism. Instead of only punishing those who are committing terrorist acts, the law could be applied to those who are participating in peaceful expression or assembling with others. UN officials have stated that it is not necessary for the Jordanian government to attack the rights of the people when it comes to speech in order to fight terrorism.
Do you think this new amendment will provide the extra protection the Jordanian people need? Do you think that the Jordanian government had the best intentions when they created this amendment?