When a mistake could cost a life: Capital punishment in Jordan

I am in principle opposed to the capital punishment. I am even more opposed to Jordan carrying out this inhuman punishment for a number of reasons.

One of the main reasons people are opposed to capital punishment is the fact that the chance of miscarriage of justice is high.

Throughout history, there are abundant cases of individuals who were executed, only to be proved innocent later.

Through DNA testing, one could see that even some of the world’s most careful judiciaries made mistakes that led to this irreversible punishment.

Perhaps the biggest problem I have with the capital punishment, especially in a region like Jordan, is the mistaken understanding that it will work as a deterrent and lower crime rates

Daoud Kuttab

In Jordan, the judiciary is well respected by the public, but it could still be mistaken. In fact, weeks ago, an issue that led to the early retirement of five senior judges pointed to the potential of grave miscarriage of justice.

Wrong judgment

A one per cent chance that a wrong judgment can end someone’s life should be reason enough to refrain from carrying out this cruel punishment.

Perhaps the biggest problem I have with the capital punishment, especially in a region like Jordan, is the mistaken understanding that it will work as a deterrent and lower crime rates. There is no scientific proof that this is the case.

Studies show that motives for crime are many and those who carry out acts that result in a capital punishment verdict are bound to continue to act in the same manner, regardless of the penalty.

Experts point out to economic, social and other reasons for the increase in crime rates, and provide a number of practical and proven effective means to combat serious crime without the need to use capital punishment.

The sudden decision to execute 11 prisoners on the morning of December 21 has added a black spot on Jordan’s human rights record. It exposes the gap between what Jordan says publicly and what is happening on the ground.

Jordan is a signatory to a number of international treaties and conventions that clearly forbid the enforcement of the capital punishment.

Turning a blind eye

It is possible that the international community has erred in recent years by turning a blind eye to other violations of international norms in Jordan, which happened for political expediency.

The silence of the international community in the face of restrictions on freedom of expression, the institutionalization of gender inequality and the absence of effective mechanisms to prevent torture, among others, allowed the government to think that it can get away with even more violations of international norms and signed conventions.

The execution is a major disappointment to many Jordanians who do not agree with this cruel punishment, and will no doubt cause a major renewal of efforts to make constitutional changes in Jordan to eradicate this unnecessary life-ending form of punishment.

Human rights activists should not be deterred by the seemingly large public support for the carrying out of capital punishment.

Historically, an ill-informed public can easily support acts such as capital punishment against criminals.

The only way to counter this is for intellectuals and society leaders to take a public stand for what is right.

This article was first published in The Jordan Times on December 25, 2014.


Daoud Kuttab, an award winning Palestinian journalist who resides in Jerusalem and Amman. Mr. Kuttab is the director general of Community Media Network a media NGO that runs a radio station in Amman (al balad radio 92.4fm) a newsweb site ammannet.net and a TV production operation in Palestine Penmedia (penmedia.ps) which is producing the Palestinian version of Sesame street. You can read his blogs on DaoudKuttab.com and find him on Twitter @DaoudKuttab.


Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:43 - GMT 06:43
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