In a new report issued today, Jordan: Security measures violate human rights, Amnesty International expressed concern about the introduction of new laws expanding the scope and definition of "terrorism" and placing additional restrictions on freedom of expression and the press.
The laws were promulgated by royal decree after 11 September, without passing through the Jordanian parliament. They are part of a worrying trend and came on the heels of additional new laws introduced in August 2001 limiting rights of assembly and the right of access to legal counsel to political opponents.
"The new security measures criminalize peaceful activities unrelated to politically motivated violence and must be immediately brought in line with human rights treaties to which Jordan is a state party," said Amnesty International.
The new definition of "terrorism", which is similar to the definition of "terrorism" in Article 2 of the Arab Convention for the Suppression of Terrorism, is extremely vague and could be read as including minor damage caused by peaceful demonstrations, and therefore pose a threat to freedom of association and expression.
The organization also called on the Jordanian government to end the practise of incommunicado detention which creates the circumstances in which torture and other ill-treatment may occur.
Dozens of people have been arrested following 11 September, mainly in connection with demonstrations protesting the killings of Palestinians during the current intifada and against the bombing of Afghanistan.
Three men arrested after a demonstration last September said they were held for up to 60 days in solitary confinement, were denied access to lawyers or family and were punched, slapped and kicked during interrogation. Two of the men were reportedly deprived of sleep for a number of days.
The report cites other cases of prolonged incommunicado detention, solitary confinement and torture.