Opinion

When A Wrong Can Right Another Wrong

Shock and relief emerged as reactions on the morning of December 21, 2014. After a moratorium since 2006, Jordan hanged 11 Jordanian detainees, all men, lifting the execution ban. The execution of the 11 criminals convicted of murder ended Jordan’s informal eight-year moratorium on the death penalty.
Following Shari’a jurisdiction, Jordan has implemented death penalty for capital crimes, including, but not limited to, aggravated murder, rape, and acts of terrorism up until 2006. In March that year, the final execution took place; The Jordanian legal system unofficially invalidated the law and left it to the King’s will. It was HM King Abdullah II’s ultimate decision to implement capital punishment. Disgustingly enough, 122 criminals have since been sentenced to death.
Jordan was once praised for its death penalty moratorium, making one wonder why it has made a decision to change. Firstly, non-application of the death penalty in Jordan resulted in steady crime increase with social violence doubling. As Interior minister Hussein Majali suggested recently, “the public believes that the rise in crime has been the result of the non-application” of capital punishment. The comment motivated Jordanian lawmakers to form a special committee that dealt with the debate to curb the recent rise in crime rates.
Most of the public supported the decision, arguing that the Islamic law, if implemented correctly, would be the only way to bring holy justice to the region. They referred to Qur’an verse, “And there is life for you in Al-Qisas (the Law of Equality in punishment) O men of understanding, that you may enjoy security.” (2:179) However, few condemned the action, describing it as a clear and regrettable setback.
In general, death penalty opponents denounce the action of taking something as absolute as life, even if it is legal. They argue that a wrong can never right another wrong, and angrily question the court’s right to illegitimately steal a human life. Nevertheless, a wrong can right another wrong in Jordan. Yes, the death penalty is an extreme measure to adopt. But it is crucial to consider the problem from all sides:  the society you are dealing with, their system, mentality, and the crimes needing punishment.
Priority should be for the security and well being of society. The death penalty will deter people from capital crimes, thereby diminishing the peril of increasing crime rates. Statistics showed that during the years following 2006, crime rate and social violence in Jordan increased sharply. With the death penalty in use, those who are about to commit a crime, no matter their determination, would be greatly inhibited. One should also realize that old, undesirable, and appalling values are born out of ashes of the lack of such deterrent. Who knows who the next victim would be. With death penalty, the outrage of the victim’s family is repressed, preventing dirty practices like revenge and tribal hostilities.
Upset, Jalil Khoury’15 lamented and raised a valid point claiming that “there are alternatives to the death penalty capable of accomplishing the same goals and giving offenders time to come to peace with their violations.” However, wasta plays a major role in the Jordanian society. Execution was replaced by 30-year jail sentences (in 2006). However, with wasta, there is no guarantee that the prison sentences will not gradually decrease to 20 years or even less. We should not fail to recognize the danger in this. Probable criminals become less fearful and more confident in approaching their crime.
Some argue against the death penalty by claiming that courts can be wrong. It is possible that they make erronous rulings on crimes. Nonetheless, it is illogical to eliminate the basis of a law. Just because there could be a one percent chance of the detainee’s’ innocence does not make it legitimate to completely abandon the use of death penalty. It just means that the court should be more judicious in sentencing criminals to death. In order to assure this, Dr. Momani, Jordan’s Minister of State for Media Affairs and Communications, announced that in many cases, implementation of the death penalty is delayed to allow for reconciliation between the opposing sides in premeditated murder cases. He also added that court verdicts on the death penalty are automatically appealed at the Court of Cassation, which has to uphold the verdict, stressing that the practice of execution is not a light matter. Once the Court of Cassation upholds a death sentence, the case is sent to the Cabinet for endorsement and a Royal Decree should be issued to approve the executor. Obviously then, executions take place with full confidence and authenticity, and there is absolutely no mistakes or miscarriages in contrast to what Charlotta Spare, Swedish Ambassador to Jordan, reported. Of course that is not to mention that the 11 men all admitted their atrocious murdering.
Britain, Sweden, and Human Rights agencies condemned Jordan for its recent action, describing the death penalty as an ‘inherently cruel punishment’ and encouraging Jordan to to ultimately abolish it completely from the Jordanian law. No matter how valid the points they raised are, there is absolutely no need for their interference. A nation’s legal system should stay an internal affair, and in this case, only the Jordanian government and public should have a say concerning the debate.
Whether Jordan should stay strong and continue the implementation of death penalty or freeze it again is up to the Jordanian government and public to decide. All we can do is to hope for the security, peace, and prosperity for this beloved country no matter what path it chooses to attain that.

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The campus newspaper of King's Academy, in Madaba, Jordan. Established 2007.