Geneva - In a letter to Jordanian Minister of Justice Ahmad Ziadat, Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor called on the minister to reconsider his rejection of a request to dismiss the case against journalist Ahmad Al Zoubi, ensure he receives a new and fair trial, and act swiftly to correct the injustice against him.
Euro-Med Monitor was deeply disappointed by Ziadat’s refusal to issue an order to the Attorney General to appeal the Court of Cassation’s decision to sentence Al Zoubi to a year in prison on charges that are likely unfair and in violation of the law.
All valid legal interpretations hold that Al Zoubi did not commit a crime that would warrant his imprisonment on the charge of “inciting conflict between the components of the nation”. The basis on which the Court of First Instance and the Magistrate Court convicted the journalist is illegal, as this criminal charge must be associated with a physical activity that constitutes an act of “incitement or exhortation”—for which the Public Prosecutor provided no evidence.
Euro-Med Monitor expressed grave concern that Ziadat has failed to carry out his constitutional duty to establish ethical justice values. Jordan’s Minister of Justice is in charge of ensuring equal treatment before the law, by granting all individuals and entities access to proper legal remedies and procedures, and protecting them from any injustices that may occur during the various stages of litigation.
The intervention of the Jordanian Minister of Justice is critical, especially in the case of Al Zoubi, to demonstrate the impartiality of the executive authority and the proper implementation of legal provisions in a way that protects human rights. In his social media post about the truck drivers’ strike in Ma’an, Al Zoubi remained within the bounds of his right to free speech, said Euro-Med Monitor, refraining from using any words or phrases that would warrant his prosecution and imprisonment.
Furthermore, said the organisation, Al Zoubi should not be held accountable for the comments on his post. He is not responsible for the content and objectives of other people’s comments, and in no way do they confirm the validity of the charge against him.
The restriction, prosecution, and imprisonment of individuals—especially journalists and opinion makers—for their legitimate opinions undermines the basic principles of human rights, effectively criminalises the right to free expression and publication, and indicates a dangerous trend of officials targeting people to silence and discourage them from exercising their guaranteed rights under the Jordanian Constitution and the country’s relevant international obligations.
Ziadat’s refusal to dismiss the ruling issued against Al Zoubi sends a chilling message to all Jordanians, who may assume that those subjected to legal injustices will not find official support in obtaining redress, and that the authorities entrusted with protecting their rights will abandon them when they are most in need. Ultimately, this could lead to a complete lack of confidence in the country’s justice system.
Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor calls on Jordanian Minister of Justice Ahmad Ziadat to take all necessary measures to correct the injustice against journalist Ahmad Al Zoubi and ensure his right to a fair trial, as well as to strengthen Jordan’s rule of law and its judicial system.