Geneva – Jordanian authorities should release political activist Anas Al-Jamal, arbitrarily detained for more than a month following many previous arrests and harassments he has been subjected to for years, Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor said Thursday in a statement.
After leaving his home on Tuesday 24 May to look for a job, Jordanian security forces arrested the 24-year-old activist without a warrant. Al-Jamal used to work as a vendor as his only source of income, but due to continued harassment he had to look for another source of income.
On Sunday 29 May, Al-Jamal was brought before the Public Prosecution and charged with “disturbing the peace of relations with a foreign country” due to a post he wrote on Facebook in 2020. Al-Jamal denied the charges, however, saying that the account had been hacked and that he was not responsible for the post, according to his family.
Al-Jamal’s detention conditions add to his and his family’s plight, as he is being detained with criminal prisoners. Due to high transportation costs, his family is also only able to visit him once a week since he is detained in Marca Prison—east of Jordanian capital Amman—which is about 100 km from the family home, north of Irbid Governorate.
His mother, Mervat Hamda, spoke to Euro-Med Monitor about the circumstances of her son’s arrest: “The distance between our place of residence and the prison is far, and it is exhausting; I have to take five taxis to reach the prison. Because of the distance and costs of transportation, I can only visit him once a week, but I keep doing that so I can see him for 10 minutes and check on him.
“My son’s health condition is unstable, as he consistently suffers from influenza, coughing, and fatigue, and his psychological condition has deteriorated to a large extent since he was first detained without justification, and as he is our only breadwinner. My son is detained with a group of people in a cell with insufficient ventilation”.
In addition, Al-Jamal’s educational situation calls for special consideration. His mother said she brought him the necessary textbooks to study for mathematics and English courses, but his detention conditions may affect his opportunities compared to other students.
Al-Jamal was repeatedly arrested and harassed by Jordanian security forces—violations that ultimately cost him his work and doubled the living and economic burdens on his family, as he was their sole breadwinner. Following his 24 March 2020 arrest in connection with his political activity, he was arrested in August of the same year and held for about a month in Al-Salt Prison for demanding political reforms. On 24 March 2021, he was arrested again and detained for a week in Bab al-Hawa Prison for similar charges. Al-Jamal has already been detained more than once this year, including for a week in Tafileh Prison, and two more weeks beginning 24 March 2022. On 24 May he was arrested again, and is still detained to this day.
In most cases, Al-Jamal was arrested for his political positions, including demanding political reform and participating in peaceful gatherings, or publishing public opinions against some of the political and economic agreements of his country and of other Arab countries with Israel. In other cases, he was arrested as a precautionary measure to prevent his participation in certain political activities, even when he had no intention of participating in the first place.
The selective targeting of Al-Jamal undermines his right to freedom of opinion and expression, and is a challenge to his related constitutional rights. Article 15 (i) of the Jordanian Constitution stipulates: “The State shall guarantee freedom of opinion. Every Jordanian shall be free to express his opinion by speech, in writing, or by means of photographic representation and other forms of expression, provided that such does not violate the law”.
Jordanian authorities must stop the deliberate and systematic targeting of activist Anas Al-Jamal, enable him to exercise his constitutional right to express his opinion, and ensure that he is not subjected to security harassment against the background of exercising his legitimate rights.
The Jordanian authorities must also stop securitising political opposition, end the policy of arbitrary arrests and criminalisation of opinion holders, and respect the rights of individuals and entities in terms of political, social, and union activity.