III. Background: The General Intelligence Department and Rule of Law

Jordan is a constitutional monarchy with some elements of a parliamentary system. The king appoints the prime minister and his cabinet, but parliament must approve the government by a vote of confidence. Jordan’s parliament, the National Assembly, has two chambers – the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate. The Chamber of Deputies (110 members, of whom 100 are elected) debates national issues and ratifies laws and international agreements before they can take effect; it can also initiate legislation and exercise some control over government actions, but in practice does not do so.2 The king appoints the Senate’s fifty-five members, who also must ratify laws. A two-thirds majority of both the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies can pass a motion of no confidence in the government and overrule a royal veto of legislation.

During the period 2001 to 2003, when the king delayed elections after dissolving parliament, the government decreed over 150 temporary laws. Article 94 of Jordan’s constitution allows the cabinet “to issue provisional laws covering matters which require necessary measures which admit of no delay, … provided that they are placed before [parliament] at the beginning of its next session.”3 In practice such decrees remain in effect until parliament reviews and approves or vetoes them.

The Ministry of Interior controls the Public Security Directorate, Jordan’s main law enforcement agency. The Public Security Directorate comprises the police, prison service and border service, among others. Specific laws regulate law enforcement powers, such as the power to arrest, which is enjoyed by officials in various agencies besides the police, such as customs, who fall under the supervision of the attorney general when they exercise law enforcement powers.

The General Intelligence Department (GID) (Da’irat al-Mukhabarat al-`Amma) is the country’s leading intelligence agency, charged with investigating threats to national security. The king appoints the GID director, who reports to the prime minister. The GID is headquartered in Amman’s Jandawil district in Wadi Sir. Its officers are considered military personnel. At its headquarters in Wadi Sir, the GID operates a detention facility. The GID in practice arrests and detains suspects and carries out criminal investigations into charges brought by the military prosecutor at the State Security Court (see below).

Article 97 of Jordan’s constitution guarantees the independence of the country’s judiciary. A High Judicial Council, regulated by law, handles appointments, promotions and disciplining of judges and prosecutors.4 This Council is not fully independent, as it includes Ministry of Justice representatives, and the king still appoints some high-level judges. The Ministry of Justice also retains budgetary authority over the court system, and administratively controls the attorney general’s office, which in turn, together with the minister of justice, supervises all public prosecutors.5 Prosecutors at the levels of courts of first instance and the Court of Appeals are bound to execute ministerial instructions.

Jordan’s constitution allows for the establishment of special courts. The State Security Court is such a special court, regulated by law, with jurisdiction over crimes against national security. The prime minister appoints civilian and military judges, who sit in a three-judge panel, usually with two judges (including the presiding judge) being from the military. The special prosecutor for this court also hails from the military. The prime minister can transfer any case to this court, regardless of the charge, and the defendants have no right of appeal against this decision.

* * *

King Abdullah, since he assumed power after the death of his father King Hussein in 1999, has regularly promised to expand and advance Jordan’s commitment to the protection of basic human rights. The Islamic Action Front (IAF), the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, and other, smaller opposition parties – Islamist and secular – have been at the forefront of those pressing for more political freedoms. Under King Abdullah, however, laws on freedoms of expression, assembly, association and participation in public life have either remained unchanged or become more restrictive (municipal councils that previously had been elected bodies are now partially appointed, for example.) In 2005, the government sought unsuccessfully to extend greater executive power over Jordanian professional associations.6

The authorities can summarily ban public gatherings and prosecute persons for taking part in an unlawful demonstration.7 Criticizing the king (lèse majesté, “an offense against the sovereign”) or insulting a government institution remains a criminal offense.8 The authorities have been known to use these laws to target peaceful political opponents.9

* * *

The government has credited the GID with the prevention of serious attacks on Jordanian soil. For example, in November 1999, officials said that the GID had uncovered a plot to bomb Jordanian tourist sites, government installations, and U.S. and Israeli interests at the turn of the millennium. Jordan has continued to face serious politically motivated criminal incidents, such as the October 2002 assassination of U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) official Lawrence Foley and the bombing of three upscale hotels in Amman in November 2005. In April 2004 the government announced that the GID had foiled a plot to set off toxic chemical explosions at the GID headquarters, the U.S. embassy, and Jordanian military bases.10

The year 2005 initially promised to be one of reform for the GID. In April, King Abdullah appointed Maj. Gen. Samih Asfura as the new head of the agency. Asfura promptly met with the press, representatives of nongovernmental organizations, and parliamentarians, and pledged that the GID would not interfere in people’s lives, especially by ruining career opportunities.11 King Abdullah, in a letter to Asfura concerning his mission at the GID, wrote that “The intelligence should focus on its fundamental tasks of protecting the internal and external security of the kingdom from threats.”12 The GID granted the National Center for Human Rights, a government-appointed body, access in September to its detention facility, for the first time.13 In December, following the hotel bombings the previous month, King Abdullah replaced Asfura with his former deputy, Maj. Gen. Muhammad al-Dhahabi, whom many Jordanians saw as the driving force behind the reforms at the agency.14 Although the majority of the people whose cases are featured in this report were released before the end of 2005, the fact that two remain detained (one without charge for two years), and that Human Rights Watch has received reports this year of torture by the GID, illustrate that problems persist with the GID, notwithstanding the declared reform agenda.

These developments in 2005 at the GID came amidst a series of other announcements regarding political, economic and social reforms. In February 2005, the king convened a Steering Committee to draft a ten-year reform plan, the “National Agenda.” In April the king replaced Prime Minister Faisal al-Fayez with `Adnan Badran and demanded a cabinet reshuffle, in order, he said, to boost the pace of reform. However, Badran’s new government faced difficulties obtaining a parliamentary vote of confidence, forcing a further cabinet reshuffle.

Following the November 2005 bombings, King Abdullah installed yet another prime minister, Ma’ruf al-Bakhit, who presented a third cabinet to parliament. Al-Bakhit, a former army major-general, vowed to put in place new counterterrorism legislation while at the same time pursuing implementation of the National Agenda reforms.

Powers and duties of the GID

The General Intelligence Department was established by law in 1964. Law No. 24 of 1964 (“the GID law”) mandates the GID to work “for the security and safety” (salama) of Jordan.15 Article 5 of the GID law states that GID officers are members of the armed services. The law stipulates that the prime minister shall designate the GID’s specific duties in writing and that these are to remain confidential.16 The GID on its website describes its duties as including: “Combating subversive thoughts that generate material acts of subversion and combating any attempt to infiltrate Jordanian society.”17

Powers of arrest under Jordanian law and the GID

In August 2005, Dr. Hamza Ahmad Haddad, a former justice minister, criticized the “chaos of law enforcement” that now involves fifteen ministries – half of all the ministries in Jordan. According to Dr. Haddad, more than twenty-five separate specific laws invest powers of law enforcement in a long list of civilian personnel from the Special Economic Zone in Aqaba to Environmental Protection and Jordan’s Tax Revenue service.18

Article 9 of Jordan’s Code of Criminal Procedure permits a number of persons and officers of institutions to exercise law enforcement powers, including officials in the Public Security Directorate (which encompasses the regular police); a certain category of judges; community and village elders (mukhtar)19; and others “tasked with criminal inquiry [taharri] and investigations [mabahith].” It stipulates the attorney general as head of the prosecution services in Jordan who, as the chief legal officer, has power to issue warrants for arrest, search and detention, and is entitled to access to all places of detention.20 Prosecutors are also vested with the power to issue arrest warrants and, after charging a detainee, to remand him or her in custody pending trial, for renewable periods of fifteen days.21 It is also the prosecutor who reviews the legal grounds for detention22 (this is examined in more detail below). Law enforcement officers are permitted to execute warrants, using such force as may be necessary.23


Subsequent legislation, enacted by government-issued decree laws between 2001 and 2003 while parliament was dissolved (see above), specifies that other ministerial departments also enjoy defined enforcement powers commensurate to their area of responsibility.24

The prosecutor general’s office oversees the law enforcement roles of the officials listed in Article 9 of the Criminal Procedure Code, but has no apparent authority to supplement that list or empower officials in other branches of government to carry out inquiries or investigations; the list of officials can only be expanded “in accordance with this law and related laws and decrees.”25

Neither Article 9 of the Criminal Procedure Code, nor any of the 2001-03 decree laws expanding law enforcement competencies, mention the GID.26 The GID law itself does not include the term “law enforcement” (al-dabita al-`adliyya) as one of the GID’s mandated tasks, or give any other description from which a power of arrest or detention can be inferred, and no other specific law authorizes the GID to exercise powers of arrest and detention27 (the only law that explicitly gives the General Intelligence Department policing powers is limited in scope to crimes committed by military personnel28). The GID law only spells out with clarity the appointment of its director and chief officers and the jurisdiction of military courts over GID officers in all matters except those under the jurisdiction of the State Security Court, from which GID officers enjoy immunity.29 Despite this, all persons interviewed by Human Rights Watch confirmed that the GID in practice exercises powers of arrest and detention, although none were able to cite a clear statutory basis for these powers.30

The right of the GID to exercise general powers of law enforcement has, however, been endorsed by the Jordanian courts. In a 1997 ruling, the Court of Appeals for Criminal Cases held: “Employees of the General Intelligence are considered officials tasked with criminal investigations of law enforcement according to the provisions of Article 9 of the Criminal Procedure Code.”31 In 1998, the same court found that “Officials tasked with criminal investigation (General Intelligence) are part of law enforcement, according to what the jurisprudence of the appeals court has established and according to the provisions of Article 9 of the Criminal Procedure Code.”32 Another 1998 ruling specified that those investigations are restricted to crimes that touch upon the “security and safety of the kingdom.”33

The only time the court apparently challenged this interpretation was in a 1997 decision, relating to the establishment of an anti-corruption department within the GID. A prime ministerial decree establishing the department explicitly required that law enforcement officers be assigned to this new department. According to the decree, the Ministry of Justice must assign a prosecutor general to this department, and the Public Security Directorate must also delegate officers in order for “this department to acquire lawful attributes in pursuing crimes that it considers within its jurisdiction.”34 The Court of Appeals initially held investigations by the GID’s anti-corruption department to be unlawful because it was not a law enforcement agency.35 However in 2004 the Court reversed its decision, as it had done in other cases, and ruled that “The men of the General Intelligence are considered officers empowered to conduct criminal investigations ‎from among those law enforcement officers mentioned in Article 9 of the Criminal Procedure Code.”36

The basis and rationale of the court’s rulings are far from clear to many Jordanian legal practitioners. Five different experts in Jordanian criminal law – Jordanian judges and lawyers – confirmed to Human Rights Watch that the GID exercises law enforcement powers despite the fact that the agency does not appear on the list of entities and officials in Article 9 of the Criminal Procedure Code or any other legislation that expressly confers those powers to it.37

The GID law requires Jordanian security forces to assist the GID in executing its tasks, (but does not state that this assistance shall be reciprocal). In most of the arrests that Human Rights Watch documented, uniformed police officers accompanied GID officers, according to the former detainees. In the case of the nighttime arrest of `Abd al-Karim Isma`il `Abd al-Rahman, in Amman on July 6, 2005, around seven GID officers wearing black balaclavas participated in the raid, together with a larger number of police officers, some of whom were also masked.38 Together they searched the house and took `Abd al-Rahman into custody. Muhammad `Ali Shaqfa, arrested in May 2005, described to us how for his transfer from a GID facility in Rusaifa to the central GID facility in Amman he was seated between two officers in military uniforms in the back seat of a civilian car driven by a plainclothes GID officer. He did not know which agency the uniformed officers were from.39

In another case, police cordoned off an entire quarter in the Schneller refugee camp while between fifteen and twenty-five GID officers stormed the two-room house of a young man living with his parents and other siblings. He told Human Rights Watch that the officers interrogated him about an accidental shooting at a wedding over half a year earlier.40

Compliance with International Human Rights Law

In its rulings the Court of Appeals ascribed powers of arrest and detention to the GID on the basis of its intelligence functions, despite the absence of any explicit legislative basis for those powers. Article 9.1 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) provides that “No one shall be deprived of his liberty except on such grounds and in accordance with such procedure as are established by law.”41 Jordan’s constitution echoes this provision in Article 8: “No person may be detained or imprisoned except in accordance with the provisions of the law.”42

The phrase “in accordance with law” requires that the act should have a basis in domestic law; that it be of a certain quality that makes it accessible to the persons concerned; and that it be formulated with sufficient precision to enable them or their lawyers to foresee, to a degree that is reasonable in the circumstances, the consequences which a given action may entail. In order for a detention or arrest to comply with the Jordanian constitution and Jordan’s international legal obligations, the powers under which a person can be detained must be sufficiently clear as a matter of law so that ordinary persons know the extent and scope of such powers, and in which circumstances they may be exercised. In a codified system of law, where most powers, particularly where they relate to coercive powers of the state, are explicit and contained in written texts, it is highly questionable whether a power of detention based solely on judicial interpretations recognizing an inherent power to detain as part of a broader criminal justice mandate meets the criteria of “in accordance with law.” In any event, the powers of arrest and detention which are exercised by the GID are vague and imprecise to the ordinary person, and lack clarity or predictability as to how and when they can be used.

As well as exercising initial powers of detention and arrest, the GID itself (as noted above) operates a detention facility within the GID compound in Amman. This compound is not subject to any regular outside independent scrutiny or oversight, depriving its detainees of basic safeguards against potential serious human rights violations.43 The status and legality of this detention facility is also unclear. In 1993, the minister of interior issued a decree in which he “declared the center of detention and investigation located in the General Intelligence Department a prison” according to the law on prisons of 1953.44 (Jordan passed a new prison law in 2004 which, like the law it replaced, gives the minister of interior the right to declare any place in the kingdom a place of detention.) However, the Court of Appeals for Criminal Cases in 1998 ruled that persons held at the GID facility for purposes of interrogation are not considered “detained,” since powers of detention are powers which can only be exercised by the prosecutor general. Member of Parliament `Ali Abu Sukkar told Human Rights Watch that when he questioned the minister of the interior about alleged secret U.S.-run detention facilities in Jordan, he received what the ministry said was a complete list of official detention facilities in the country; it did not include the central GID facility.45

The State Security Court and SSC prosecutors

The GID arrests, searches, detains, and interrogates suspects for those crimes that fall under the section of the penal code detailing offenses against national security as well as certain other crimes, such as lèse majesté, which together comprise the jurisdiction of the State Security Court (SSC). 46 In the course of researching this report, Human Rights Watch found no cases in which ordinary courts later tried a suspect originally arrested by the GID. The SSC, however, can hear cases involving suspects arrested or interrogated by agencies other than the GID.

The SSC is a special court established pursuant to Articles 99 and 100 of Jordan’s constitution.47 The SSC law empowers the prime minister to establish this court and to appoint judges to the three-judge panel. He appoints one or more civilian judges on the recommendation of the minister of justice and one or more military judges on the recommendation of the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff48; in practice, two of the three judges, including the presiding judge, have been military. Neither the civilian nor the military judges enjoy effective independence, as they can be replaced at any time by executive decision.49

The head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff appoints a military officer to serve as prosecutor, underlining the court’s subordinate character. The SSC prosecutor’s offices are physically located inside the central GID complex.50 The SCC prosecutor is the officer who issues charges against detainees and authorizes their continued detention. The SSC prosecutor who investigates the crimes of which detainees at the GID are accused is a military officer, ultimately under the same administrative authority as the intelligence officials. This reflects a fundamental lack of independence and impartiality.

Although military officers largely staff the State Security Court, it tries civilians and follows civilian, not military, criminal law and procedure. 51

Article 7 of the SSC law provides that people who are being investigated with a view to prosecuting them for a crime for which the SCC enjoys jurisdiction can be detained “where necessary for a period not exceeding seven days” before being brought before the prosecutor to be charged. The prosecutor can extend the detention warrant for renewable periods of fifteen days after charging a suspect, if it is “in the interest of the investigation.”52 A practicing defense lawyer told Human Rights Watch that “it is normal for detainees to remain at the GID for around six months. They are transferred to a normal prison or released when the GID has finished its investigation.”53

Under Jordanian law, although the prosecutor is formally in charge of an investigation once charges are filed, in matters before the SCC the practice is for the prosecutor to delegate responsibility to GID officers to continue the investigation, including interrogation.54 All the detainees interviewed by Human Rights Watch recalled that during their time in detention they met only with GID staff, except for when they were brought before the prosecutor to be charged. However, several detainees made clear that they were unable with certainty to distinguish between GID officers and officers from the prosecutor’s office, since all wear civilian clothes, conduct interrogations in a similar fashion, and are located in close proximity.55

The prosecutor is also the legal authority for detainees’ complaints regarding cruel or inhuman treatment or torture. Jordanian law requires any official, including GID officers, to accept and transmit complaints to their superiors. The role of the prosecutor includes investigating complaints that allege a breach of the law. The fundamental lack of independence of the prosecutor within the GID and SCC structures renders this role wholly ineffective. Samih Khrais, a lawyer who has defended tens of clients before the State Security Court, told Human Rights Watch: “The prosecutor will send a detainee back to the cell if he says he confessed under torture.”56 Khrais said that because of the prosecutor’s role in the process before the SCC, and the rules that make statements obtained under torture inadmissible in court, the SCC prosecutors are disinclined to act on any complaints of torture. 57 One detainee, Mustafa R., who said he was tortured both before and after being charged, told Human Rights Watch that when he was brought before the prosecutor to be charged he was alone with the prosecutor in his office in the GID complex while a car with his interrogators waited outside to take him back to his cell. The prosecutor did not make any inquiry as to whether illegal force or coercion were used against Mustafa R. during his interrogation.58 Another former detainee, Muhammad al-Barqawi, told Human Rights Watch that if a detainee demands a lawyer or alleges torture, the prosecutor sends the detainee back for more interrogation, saying “He’s not ready yet.”59

The UN Guidelines on the Role of Prosecutors stipulate that the office of prosecutors shall be strictly separated from judicial functions.60 Jordanian prosecutors, however, do adjudicate on the legality of a person’s detention and remand detainees in custody as well as conducting the pre-trial investigation and the prosecution at trial. Detainees cannot appeal the prosecutor’s decisions.

Prosecutors meet neither the criteria of independence nor impartiality needed to review the legality of detention.61 The prosecutor at the SSC answers to the Military Judicial Institution (Hay’at al-Quda al-`Askariyya), not the civilian High Judicial Council in the Ministry of Justice.62 Thus, those who make determinations over who to arrest; carry out the arrests; conduct interrogations; verify the legality of detentions; prosecute the crimes; and – in cases involving SCC judges – adjudicate the crimes are all part of the Jordanian military establishment. A detainee consequently has little hope of gaining an independent judicial review of the legality of his detention, as Article 9.4 of the ICCPR requires.

Lack of oversight

Weak institutional oversight has given the GID room to interpret and ignore the law and escape the consequences of doing so. According to Article 4 of the GID law, the king appoints and dismisses the head of intelligence on the recommendation of the prime minister. The king also appoints the principal officers within the GID on the recommendation of the GID director and with the approval of the prime minister.63 The king, as commander in chief of the armed forces, exercises ultimate authority over the GID through the military chain of command. The king himself is immune from prosecution.

Although the prime minister by law can set specific tasks for the GID, in practice his office and the cabinet function as recipients of intelligence information. In a study for the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces, which specializes in analyzing the oversight and accountability mechanisms for security forces in different countries, Jordanian analyst Nawaf Tell wrote that the GID submits its regular intelligence briefings to the king, not to the prime minister, who is informed of GID activities but has little control over them.64

The GID law authorizes its officers to use aliases. Former detainee Muhammad `Ali Shaqfa told Human Rights Watch how on May 3, 2005, three men walked up to his herb and spice store on Rusaifa’s main street on the northeastern outskirts of Amman and began questioning him.65 When he demanded to see their identification, they produced only a badge with a photograph and the words General Intelligence Department written on it. He was unable to get their names or a registration number.66 Shaqfa added, “Then they asked me to come with them. They said they only wanted me to answer a few questions and that it wouldn’t take more than half an hour.” The GID officers drove him to the nearby local GID office. Once there, he said, he was not free to leave, and was subsequently transferred to the central GID facility in Amman.67

The GID law also authorizes it to hide its budget in the general state budget.68 Furthermore, no parliamentary committee oversees security or intelligence affairs. The parliament’s right to question ministers has little consequence for the intelligence services, which are not answerable to ministers.

Who does the General Intelligence Department arrest?

Radical Islamists who support use of violence and who consider others to be infidels and therefore legitimate targets of violent attacks pose a domestic security challenge in Jordan. Speaking after the November 2005 hotel bombings, King Abdullah said:

These attacks underline the need to embrace a comprehensive strategy to face the culture of takfir69… and wage a no-mercy war on the schools of takfir that are nourished by bigotry, backwardness and isolationism, live on the ignorance of simple and naïve people and work under the guidance of misleading fatwas and approaches.70

The danger for the state lies with some adherents of salafism who move from rejecting the state’s legitimacy, but generally abide by its laws, to advocating or attempting its violent overthrow. 71 This step typically involves declaring persons and governments un-Islamic and thus the equivalent of an infidel tyrant whose blood can be spilled without violating shari`a provisions.72

Growing opposition to the U.S. troop presence in Saudi Arabia in 1990 after Iraq invaded Kuwait gave violent Islamist movements in the region a powerful boost. In Jordan, their displeasure with allegedly un-Islamic policies grew when King Hussein concluded a peace agreement with Israel in 1994 and when the current King Abdullah failed to abrogate that treaty during Israel’s military re-occupation of Palestinian West Bank towns in 2002.73 King Abdullah maintains close ties to Washington: for example, he permitted U.S. forces to operate in Jordan in preparation for the U.S.-led war on Iraq, and he has generally supported U.S. policy in Iraq beyond the initial occupation. Jordan has participated in the training of Iraqi military and police in facilities located in Jordan.

A number of takfiri groups, as well as the banned Hizb al-Tahrir (Liberation Party), reportedly continue to spread their message in Jordan.74 Jordanian officials fear that Jordanians who have joined militants in Iraq will employ violent methods against the government. State television in November 2005 televised the confession of Sajida Rishawi, an Iraqi woman who may be related by marriage to Nidal `Arabiyyat, one of the key Jordanian followers of the late Abu Mus`ab al-Zarqawi , in which she described her participation in the suicide bomb attacks on the Amman hotels.75 She reportedly took refuge with the `Arabiyyat family before Jordanian intelligence forces arrested her.76 Journalists told Human Rights Watch that in September and October 2005 intelligence forces arrested fifteen to twenty persons suspected of recruiting for armed groups in Iraq, for belonging to groups such as al-Takfir wal-Hijra andal-Tawhid that were allegedly planning attacks in Jordan, or for belonging to Hizb al-Tahrir.77

The GID keeps a close watch on salafi opposition groups and individuals – peaceful and militant. It views the groups as the natural recruiting ground for those advocating and plotting violence. Religious activists told Human Rights Watch that the GID closely observes devout Muslims who perform the dawn prayer or those who sit in the first row at communal Friday prayer.78 Other reports also note that intelligence officers frequently “round up the usual suspects” in the course of their surveillance of salafis or otherwise suspicious Islamists.79 Zuhair Abu al-Raghib, a member of parliament for the Islamic Action Front, said that the GID “for the last ten years, has arrested Islamists, but hardly anyone else.”80

The government does not make public the names or number of persons detained by the GID, the reasons for arrest, or the duration of detention. Of the sixteen cases Human Rights Watch investigated, most were men from Zarqa, Rusaifa, and Amman. The group comprised engineers, religious instructors, small businessmen, and students. Almost all expressed a general dissatisfaction with political and economic conditions in Jordan. Most belonged to groups whose outlook ranged from a focus on achieving a better world through personal piety, to political activism.81 Two former detainees belonged to leftist movements, two others had no discernible affiliation, and the rest supported a greater role for Islamic precepts in public life.

Jordanian law criminalizes speech that is critical of the government, participation in unauthorized demonstrations, and membership in unlicensed organizations.82 Jordanian law also provides for a number of vaguely-worded offences such as “conspiracy to carry out a crime,” “crimes against state security,” or “insulting publicly the head of a foreign state, its army, its science or its national feelings.”83 In several cases, former detainees told Human Rights Watch that prosecutors simply used only the charge of “conspiracy to carry out a crime,”84 without their specifying what those criminal acts were. The vague wording allows the GID to arrest suspects without having to adduce specific evidence of individual criminal responsibility.

Between September 2005 and January 2006, the GID reportedly arrested around forty persons on suspicion of belonging to Hizb al-Tahrir, some of whom had allegedlydisplayed the emblem of this group and distributed its magazine al-Wa`i (The Conscious). The State Security Court later found only three of those arrested guilty of belonging to Hizb al-Tahrir.85

On September 17, 2005, and again on January 23, 2006, Human Rights Watch wrote to Maj. Gen. Muhammad al-Dhahabi, whom the king promoted from deputy director to director of the GID in December 2005, seeking information concerning the designation and supervision of GID detention facilities in law; GID officials’ powers of arrest, detention and interrogation; and any disciplinary procedures taken against GID officials who had acted in breach of regulations or the law. Human Rights Watch also requested statistical information about the inmate population. As of July 20, 2006, the GID had not responded to either enquiry, or to Human Rights Watch requests for a meeting with GID officials made in Amman in late June and early July 2006.

2 Arts. 91 and 95, The Constitution of The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, January 1, 1952, henceforth specify, respectively, the right of the prime minister to submit to parliament draft laws for ratification, and the right of ten or more parliamentarians to ask the prime minister to draft a law based on a proposal they submit.

3 Art. 94, Jordan’s constitution. Parliament has not yet completed its review of the approximately 150 laws decreed in the 2001-2003 period.

4 Nathan Brown, “Arab Judicial Structures. A Study Presented To The United Nations Development Program,” August 2001, (accessed June 16, 2006). Brown notes that Jordan’s High Judicial Council is “headed by a judge and thus represents an important guardian of judicial independence. Its composition is largely judicial, but it also includes a representative from the Ministry of Justice. The Council plays an important role in the appointment, assigning, and evaluation of judges.”

5 Art. 11, Criminal Procedure Code.

6 See letter from Human Rights Watch to Prime Minister Faisal Al Fayez, “HRW Concerns Regarding Jordan's Draft Law on Professional Associations,” March 30, 2005,

7 Article 5a, Public Assemblies Law No. 7, Jordan, 2004, states that “The administrative decision-maker may issue his agreement of the request, or his refusal, at least twenty-four hours before the designated time” of the assembly. The administrative decision-maker is a governor or one of his or her deputies who report to, and are appointed by, the minister of interior. Art. 5c considers any unlicensed demonstration as an illegal act. Article 165, Penal Code, Jordan, 1960, states: “Anyone participating in an unlawful gathering will be punished by a prison sentence of not exceeding one year or with a fine not exceeding twenty-five dinar or with both of the punishments.”

8 Art. 195, Penal Code. It criminalizes written, verbal or electronic messages, pictures, comical drawings, or broadcasts that touch upon the dignity of the king.

9 In 1996, for example, the GID arrested and the State Security Court convicted seven persons for “insulting the dignity of the king.” See Human Rights Watch, “Jordan: Clamping Down on Critics, Human Rights Violations in Advance of the Parliamentary Elections,” A Human Rights Watch Report, vol. 9, no. 12 (E), October 1997,

10 Rana Husseini, “Four Confess to Plotting Terror Attacks in Jordan Last Year”, Jordan Times, July 14, 2005.

11 “Asfoura Meets with JPA Members,” Petra News Agency, June 28, 2005, (accessed March 20, 2006); Human Rights Watch interviews with journalist Bassam Badareen, Amman, July 3, 2005, member of parliament `Ali Abu Sukkar, Amman, September 7, 2005, and journalist Ranya Kadri, Amman, September 18, 2005.

12 Rana Sabbagh, “Sa’d Khair Moves to the ‘National Security Council’ … Jordan: Change of Intelligence Department Director Speaks of the End of Its Political Role,” al-Hayat, June 5, 2005, (accessed May 22, 2006).

13 Human Rights Watch interview with Nisreen Zureikat, National Center for Human Rights, Amman, September 10, 2005. In its December 2005 visit to the General Intelligence Department facility, the Center found forty-four detainees there. See National Center for Human Rights, “The Situation of Human Rights, The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, 2005,” Amman, April 2006, p.13.

14 Human Rights Watch interview with Ranya Kadri, Amman, February 1, 2006.

15 Art. 8, Law No. 24 on the General Intelligence Department, Jordan, 1964 (“GID law”). See Appendix 1.

16 Ibid.

17 Text as it appears on the website of the Jordanian General Intelligence Department, [sic] (accessed May 11, 2006).

18 Dr. Hamza Ahmad al-Haddad, “The Extent of the Need for an Anti-corruption Law,” (accessed November 15, 2005). Dr. Haddad published this article on the Internet following his participation in expert meetings on the draft law with members of the Legal Committee, a standing committee of Jordan’s lower house of parliament that reviews draft legislation for approval by the house.

19 Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress, “Country Studies/Area Handbook Series ‎sponsored by the U.S. Department of the Army - A Country Study: Jordan,” data as of 1989, ‎ (accessed May 10, 2006): “The mukhtar, or headman, of a small village linked the villagers with the state bureaucracy, especially if there were no village or municipal council. The mukhtar's duties included the registering of births and deaths, notarizing official papers for villagers, and assisting the police with their investigations in the village. Where there were municipal or village councils, generally in villages with a population of 3,000 or more, the mukhtar had little influence. Instead, the councils, bodies elected by the villagers, allocated government authority and village resources. Young, educated men from influential families, whose fathers may have been traditional leaders in the village, often ran the councils.”  

20 Arts. 15 and 16, Law No. 9, Criminal Procedure Code, Jordan, 1961.

21 The exception are cases that fall under the jurisidiction of the Arbitration Courts (mahakim al-sulh), where the judge can act as a prosecutor.

22 Art. 114, Criminal Procedure Code.

23 Arts. 19 and 119, Criminal Procedure Code.

24 These laws were issued between 2001 and 2003, at a time while parliament was dissolved. They are currently subject to parliamentary approval, although they remain in force pending such approval. Human Rights Watch telephone interview with lawyerSufian Obeidat, Amman, May 18, 2006. An example of a department granted enforcement powers by these laws is the Office for the Rights of Authors, under the National Library and the Ministry of Culture, which a change to the Law on the Right of Authors in 1998 designated as having law enforcement responsibilities. See Yunis Arab, “The General Definitions of the Legal Framework of Literary and Industrial Intellectual Property,” lecture, October 13, 2003 (Arabic), (accessed May 26, 2006), p. 5.

25 Art. 9.1, Criminal Procedure Code. The prosecutor general may, however, supervise officials of other departments “when they engage in law enforcement work,” but not in their other duties (Art. 15, Criminal Procedure Code). This authorizes him or her to direct the work of police officers within the Ministry of Interior who are investigating a crime and whom Article 9 of the Criminal Procedure Code permits to exercise powers as law enforcement officers.

26 Art. 9.1, Criminal Procedure Code.

27 In 2002, when parliament was dissolved, the Jordanian government issued a Law on the Establishment of Military Courts. Passed nearly forty years after the establishment of the GID, article 15 of that law specifically counts intelligence officers among law enforcement officials: “Individuals of the general intelligence (…) are considered to belong to the law enforcement body.” However, the specific application of that law cannot be interpreted to extend beyond the jurisdiction of the military courts that are its subject. The military courts mentioned in this law try members of the armed services, cadets in military academies, and those accused of a crime while they were active members of the armed service if they have since left, in addition to standard bearers, prisoners of war, allied forces present in Jordan unless exempted by a bilateral agreement, and war criminals. With the exception of persons accused of war crimes, and cases involving both military officials and civilians, these military courts have no jurisdiction over civilians. The inclusion of GID officers in this law stems most likely from the fact that, as stated above, article 5 of the GID law deems its officers members of the armed services. Article 7 of the same law stipulates that a “military council” has jurisdiction over intelligence officers who are accused of crimes under the jurisdiction of the State Security Court and that a GID officer, who must have a law degree, acts as a prosecutor in such cases.

28 The GID law uses the term “security forces.” Sufian `Obaidat, a lawyer, told Human Rights Watch that this term refers to the military and officials in the Public Security Department.

29 Article 3 of the GID law states that the “connection to the armed forces and the Public Security Directorate of the two branches mentioned in paragraphs a) [General Investigations] and b) [Political Investigations], is cancelled.” This indicates that the GID did not inherit law enforcement duties of the Public Security Directorate in spite of its historical connection to that institution. Although the names of the two departments of the GID contain the term “investigation” (mabahith and tahqiqat), the law gives no further specifications of the nature of their duties, such as a criminal investigation rather than investigative research into political trends (for example, researching the strength of the Communist Party in Jordan).

30 Human Rights Watch interviewed more than thirty persons in the preparation for this report, including political leaders, lawyers, journalists, human rights activists, and former detainees and their families.

31 Decision 2, Court of Appeals for Criminal Cases, 1997 (Arabic).

32 Decision 139, Court of Appeals for Criminal Cases, May 3, 1998 (Arabic).

33 Decision 380, Court of Appeals for Criminal Cases, September 8, 1998.

34 Sufian Obeidat, “The General Intelligence Department: between the Law and Reality,” paper submitted to the Jordanian bar association in June 2004, p. 16.

35 Decision 292, Court of Appeals for Criminal Cases, 1999.

36 Decision 714, Court of Appeals for Criminal Cases, 2004.

37 Two judges and five defense lawyers for criminal proceedings shared their legal analysis with Human Rights Watch.

38 Human Rights Watch interview with `Abd al-Karim Isma`il `Abd al-Rahman, Amman, July 6, 2005.

39 Human Rights Watch interview with Muhammad `Ali Shaqfa, Rusaifa, September 15, 2006.

40 Human Rights Watch interview with young Palestinian Jordanian, Schneller camp resident, name withheld by request, Rusaifa, September 14, 2005. He said he had had no part in the shooting.

41 Art. 9.1, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), G.A. res. 2200A (XXI), 21 U.N. GAOR Supp. (No. 16) at 52, U.N. Doc. A/6316 (1966), 999 U.N.T.S. 171, entered into force March 23, 1976. Jordan ratified the ICCPR in May 1975.

42 Art. 8, Chapter 2, Jordan’s constitution.

43 Principle 29, Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment, adopted by UN General Assembly resolution 43/173 of December 9, 1988 (Body of Principles) ,states: “In order to supervise the strict observance of relevant laws and regulations, places of detention shall be visited regularly by qualified and experienced persons appointed by, and responsible to, a competent authority distinct from the authority directly in charge of the administration of the place of detention or imprisonment.“

44 Official Gazette, No. 3930, “Declaration issued by the minister of interior considering the center for detention and investigation present in the General Intelligence Department a prison,” November 1, 1993, p. 2143, based on Article 3.2 of Law No. 23 on Prisons, Jordan, 1956.

45 Human Rights Watch interview with `Ali Abu Sukkar, Amman, September 9, 2005.

46 Articles 107 to 153 of the Penal Code specify crimes against national security. Law No. 17 on the State Security Court, Jordan, 1959 (“SSC law”), in Article 3, details the jurisdiction of the State Security Court. The crimes include Article 50 of the State Documents and Secrets Act (1971), Article 11 of the Drugs and Mental Stimulants Act (1988), Article 13 of the Law on Explosives (1953), Article 34, paragraphs 11 a and b of the Law on Firearms and Ammunition (1952), as well as the Civil Aviation Law (1985), in addition to several other provisions of the Penal Code (1966), such as insulting the king (Art. 195).

47 Arts. 99 and 110, Jordan’s constitution.

48 Art. 2, SSC law. There is nothing in the law to suggest a specific ratio of military to civilian judges. In theory, they could all be military or civilian.

49 Most recently, the prime minister appointed ten judges, seven of them military. See Official Gazette, “Decision issued by the Prime Minister According to Article 2 of the Law on the State Security Court, Number 17 of the year 1959, and Its Amendments,” May 17, 2006, p. 2015.

50 Human Rights Watch interview with Zuhair Abu al-Raghib, member of parliament, Amman, September 18, 2005. Abu al-Raghib is also a defense lawyer for detainees held at the GID.

51 Art. 7, SSC law.

52 Art. 7, SSC law.

53 Human Rights Watch interview with Samih Khrais, defense lawyer, Amman, September 10, 2005.

54 Art. 47, Criminal Procedure Code. Paragraph 1 entrusts the investigation to the prosecutor general, but paragraph 2 allows him to order law enforcement officers to complete an investigation if they have already begun it.

55 Human Rights Watch interviews with young Palestinian Jordanian from the Schneller refugee camp, name withheld by request, Rusaifa, September 14, 2005 and with Mustafa R., Amman, September 20, 2005.

56 Human Rights Watch interview with Samih Khrais, defense lawyer, Amman, September 10, 2005.

57 Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Hani al-Dahla, president, Arab Organization for Human Rights in Jordan, and with Samih Khrais, Amman, May 25, 2006.

58 Human Rights Watch interview with Mustafa R., Amman, September 20, 2005. He added that “[The prosecutor] asked me at first if I needed a lawyer, then some questions about my personal status, before inquiring about the manner and the reason for the arrest.”

59 Human Rights Watch interview with Muhammad al-Barqawi, Rusaifa, September 13, 2005.

60 Guideline 10, Guidelines on the Role of Prosecutors, Adopted by the Eighth United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders, Havana, Cuba, August 27 to September 7, 1990. It states: “The office of prosecutors shall be strictly separated from judicial functions.”

61 International Commission of Jurists, “Memorandum on International Legal Framework on Administrative Detention and Counter-Terrorism,” December 2005. Referring to the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR), Decision of 15 November 1999, Communication No. 153/96, Case Constitutional Rights Project v. Nigeria, para. 12., the International Commission of Jurists writes:

In a case where an act provided that the Chief of General Staff may order that a person be detained for State security reasons, without charge and established a panel – consisting of Attorney-General, the Director of the Prison Service, and a representative appointed by the Inspector-General of Police plus six persons appointed by the President – with the mandate to review the detention every six weeks, the Commission has stated that these detentions were incompatible with the provisions of the African Charter and that with this system, persons may be detained indefinitely. The Commission has also declared that the panel cannot be considered impartial and cannot be said to meet judicial standards, as the majority of its members are appointed by the President (the Executive) and the other three are representatives of the executive branch as well. Therefore, the ACHPR has stated that this detention was arbitrary, and therefore in violation of the right to a remedy and the right to be tried by a fair trial within a reasonable time.

62 Human Rights Watch telephone interview with lawyer Sufian `Obaidat, Amman, May 26, 2006. The Public Security Directorate follows a military structure and ranks.

63 Art. 4.2., GID law.

64 Nawaf Tell, Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces, “Jordanian Security Sector Governance: Between Theory and Practice,”Working Paper No.145, August 2004, p.12: “The authority of the Prime Minister in supervising the activities of the General Intelligence Department, for which he is held responsible according to the constitution, in addition to assigning tasks, is no more than to be informed of these activities, with no direct involvement in them.”

65 Human Rights Watch interview with Muhammad `Ali Shaqfa, Rusaifa, September 15, 2005.

66 Article 100 of the Criminal Procedure Code requires the arresting officer to sign a protocol containing the names of the officers who ordered the arrest and who carried it out.

67 Human Rights Watch interview with Muhammad `Ali Shaqfa, Rusaifa, September 15, 2006.

68 Art. 9.b, GID law.

69 Gilles Kepel, Jihad: The Trail of Political Islam (Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2002), p. 31: “The term derives from the word kufr (impiety) and it means that one who is, or claims to be a Muslim is declared to be impure: by takfir he is excommunicated in the eyes of the Community of the Faithful. For those who interpret Islamic law literally and rigorously, one who is impious to this extent can no longer benefit from the protection of law.”

70 “Mandate reform, fight against terror — Monarch. [Excerpts of His Majesty King Abdullah's Letter of Designation to Prime Minister-designate Marouf Bakhit],” Jordan Times, November 25, 2005.

71 Salafis strive to imitate and replicate the Islam of the Prophet’s generation (al-salaf al-salih), aiming to rid Islamic practice of the innovations accrued over centuries of human practice. They aspire to follow the literal meanings of Qur’anic injunctions without imputing or deducing another, less obvious meaning. Issues of salafi beliefs frequently involve questions of ritual and everyday life, but more important are questions involving social norms and laws derived from the Prophet Muhammad’s reported words and deeds.

72 Quintan Wiktorowicz, The Management of Islamic Activism, Salafis, the Muslim Brotherhood, and State Power in Jordan (New York: State University Press, 2001) p. 127.

73 “King to Inaugurate New Parliament Session: Majali Expected to Retain Lower House Speakership,” Jordan Times, November 24, 2000: “A handful of deputies have begun collecting signatures to try to abrogate Jordan's 1994 peace treaty with Israel and to demand again that normalisation with the Jewish state be stopped and that Israel's envoy to Jordan be expelled.“

74 Suleiman al-Khalidi, “Jordan Detains Seven Islamists in Crackdown,” Reuters, September 7, 2005. Muhammad al-Da’mah, “Jordan: Three Members of Hizb al-Tahrir Sentenced to Prison,” Al-Sharq al-Awsat, January 24, 2006, (Arabic), (accessed March 23, 2006). A major stated goal of Hizb al-Tahrir is to re-establish the caliphate. The caliph was traditionally the leader of all adherents to the Muslim faith, although he gradually had become more a figurehead than a person wielding secular powers. After Mustafa Kemal Ataturk assumed power in the post-World War I Ottoman empire, he abolished the Ottoman sultanate in 1922 and declared Turkey a republic; he then abolished the caliphate in 1924. As far as Human Rights Watch is aware, the government has not charged any Hizb al-Tahrir members in the recent string of arrests with advocating or planning violent attacks.

75 Conal Urquhart, “Failed Bomb Attacker Confesses Live on Air,” The Guardian (London), November 14, 2005,,12469,1642074,00.html?gusrc=rss (accessed March 23, 2006). Al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian-born head of the al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia organization in Iraq, was killed by U.S. forces in Iraq in June 2006.

76 Jackie Spinner, “Failed Bomber Sought Refuge in Jordan after Amman Blasts, Woman Thought to Have Hidden with Kin, Residents Say,” Washington Post, November 19, 2005.

77 Human Rights Watch email correspondence with Jordanian journalists, names withheld by request, November 12, 2005, and January 8, 2006. Takfir wal-Hijra, literally “excommunication and emigration,” refers to individuals who assume the right to declare others infidels and who, in emulation of the Prophet Muhammad’s leaving of Mecca for Medina, forsake an impure society. Tawhid, literally “unity,” refers to a belief in the unity of God, or monotheism. Members of al-Takfir wal-Hijra have been charged with planning violent acts against civilian targets in Jordan, and al-Tawhid was associated with Abu Mus`ab al-Zarqawi at some point. See also International Crisis Group (ICG), “Jordan’s 9/11: Dealing with Jihadi Islamism,” Middle East Report No.47, November 23, 2005, p. 20.

78 Human Rights Watch interviews with Muhammad al-Barqawi, Rusaifa, September 13, 2005, and with `Umar Matar, Arab Organization of Human Rights, Amman, July 6, 2005.

79 See Wiktorowicz, Islamic Activism, p. 130, and ICG, “Jordan’s 9/11,” p. 13.

80 Human Rights Watch interview with Zuhair Abu al-Raghib, September 18, 2005.

81 Some of the interviewees seemed to endorse violence, including, but not limited to, against U.S. forces in Iraq. Jordan’s Islamist challenge is a relatively recent phenomenon. In the 1980s a number of Jordanians went to fight with the mujahidin against the Soviets in Afghanistan, with, some say, the official approval of King Hussein. Human Rights Watch interviews with a Jordanian salafi, Irbid, September 22, 2005, and with the brother of a mujahid in Zarqa, September 15, 2005. See also ICG, “Jordan’s 9/11,” p. 3, footnote 20. In the late eighties, and increasingly so since then, a more radical group influenced by Jordanian salafi scholars, such as `Umar Abu `Umar (`Umar Abu Qattadah), whom the UK seeks to extradite to Jordan, and Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, who is currently detained in Jordan, began to shift toward embracing change through action, including violence against the state. Ahmad Khalayla (Abu Mus`ab al-Zarqawi) and some of his key Jordanian followers have networks in Jordanian cities dating back to shared experiences in Afghanistan. See Hazim al-Amin, “Al-Hayat Inquiry: The City of Al-Zarqa in Jordan – Breeding Ground of Jordan's Salafi Jihad Movement,” Al-Hayat, December 14, 2004 (Arabic).

82 See “Jordan: Slander Charge Signals Chill. Revise the Penal Code to Guarantee Free Speech,” Human Rights Watch news release, December 23, 2004, Article 159, Penal Code, criminalizes membership in illegal organizations.

83 Penal Code, section 2, chapter 1, Jordan, 1960, and Art. 122, Penal Code. According to Jordanian press reports, the State Security Court prosecutor charged ten persons with “sullying Jordan’s good relations with a friendly nation,” among other charges, for attempting to join the struggle against Americans in Iraq. See Fayez al-Luzi, “State Security Sentences 10 and Acquits 7 Accused of Targeting Counterterrorism Intelligence Officers, Al-Dustur, May 3, 2006 (Arabic).

84 ِArt. 107, Penal Code, criminalizes conspiracy. Human Rights Watch interviews with Mahdi Zaidan, Irbid, September 22, 2005, and with Muhammad al-Barqawi, Rusaifa, September 13, 2005.

85 Muhammad al-Da`ma, “Jordan: Three Members of Hizb al-Tahrir Sentenced to Prison,” Al-Sharq al-Awsat.