Jordan’s new government wins vote of confidence

Jordanian Prime Minister Bisher Al-Khasawneh. (AFP file photo)
Jordanian Prime Minister Bisher Al-Khasawneh. (AFP file photo)
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Updated 14 January 2021

Jordan’s new government wins vote of confidence

Jordanian Prime Minister Bisher Al-Khasawneh. (AFP file photo)
  • Prime Minister Bisher Al-Khasawneh secures comfortable victory, with 88 of 130 MPs voting in his favor and 38 against

AMMAN: The Jordanian government of Prime Minister Bisher Al-Khasawneh on Wednesday won a vote of confidence in the House of Representatives, the country’s lower house, with the support of 88 of 130 MPs. Thirty-eight voted against the government, one abstained and three were absent.

The vote was held after Al-Khasawneh delivered a response to MPs comments about his government’s policy statement, in which he pledged to forge a genuine partnership and coordinate with the legislature. The comments were presented by 121 MPs during four days of marathon morning and afternoon sessions.

In an address to house ahead of the vote, the PM revealed that schools will reopen at the start of the second semester, in accordance with a plan designed to ensure public health. Jordan’s King Abdullah had directed the government to reopen schools and other sectors in a systematic manner that safeguards protects health and the nation’s economy.

Al-Khasawneh, who was chosen by the king to form a new government in October last year, also pledged that there would be no new taxes and no borrowing this year. Improving the economy and creating job opportunities will be a top priority for his administration, he added.

According to official estimates, the unemployment rate in Jordan reached 23.9 percent in the third quarter of last year, up by 4.8 percent compared with the same period in 2019.

Jordan’s 19th parliamentary election was held in November, 2020 under strict safety measures amid the coronavirus pandemic.


Fears of Iraq execution spree after Daesh attack

Fears of Iraq execution spree after Daesh attack
Updated 25 January 2021

Fears of Iraq execution spree after Daesh attack

Fears of Iraq execution spree after Daesh attack
  • More than 340 execution orders “for terrorism or criminal acts” were ready to be carried out
  • The orders came after twin suicide attacks claimed by Daesh killed 32 in Baghdad

BAGHDAD: Rights defenders fear Iraq may give the green light to a spree of executions of convicted militants in a show of strength, days after a deadly suicide attack in Baghdad.
On Sunday, an official from Iraq’s presidency told AFP more than 340 execution orders “for terrorism or criminal acts” were ready to be carried out.
“We are continuing to sign off on more,” said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The orders were disclosed to AFP after twin suicide attacks claimed by the Daesh group on Thursday killed at least 32 people in a crowded open-air Baghdad market.
The blasts were a jolting reminder of the persistent threat posed by the jihadists, despite the government declaring victory over them in late 2017.
The official, along with judicial sources contacted by AFP, could not provide additional details on when the executions may take place or if they included foreigners convicted of belonging to IS.
A 2005 law carries the death penalty for anyone convicted of “terrorism,” which can include membership of an extremist group even if they are not convicted of any specific acts.
Rights groups have warned that executions were being used for political reasons.
“Leaders resort to announcements of mass executions simply to signal to the public that they’re taking... (these issues) seriously,” said Belkis Wille, senior crisis and conflict researcher at Human Rights Watch.
“The death penalty is used as a political tool more than anything else,” she told AFP on Sunday.
In mid-2018, outgoing Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi announced 13 executions under the Counter-Terror Law, and for the first time authorities published pictures of the hangings.
That came after Daesh killed eight civilians.


Since the official declaration of victory over Daesh, Iraq’s courts have sentenced hundreds to death for crimes perpetrated during the jihadists’ 2014 seizure of around a third of the country and their brutal three-year hold over cities including Mosul.
But only a small proportion of the sentences have been carried out, as they must be approved by the president.
Barham Saleh, who has held the post since 2018, is known to be personally against capital punishment, and has resisted signing execution orders in the past.
Some Iraqis took to social media to demand tougher action from Saleh after Thursday’s attack, accusing him of “not carrying out the sentences” and risking a prison break.
Despite Saleh’s moderating influence, Iraq in 2019 carried out the fourth highest number of executions among nations worldwide, after China and Iran, according to Amnesty International.
Iraq carried out 100 executions that year — one out of every seven worldwide.
Judicial sources told AFP at least 30 executions took place in 2020.
They include 21 men convicted of “terrorism” and executed at the notorious Nasiriyah prison in November.
The move sparked condemnations from the United Nations, which described the news as “deeply troubling” and called on Iraq to halt any further planned executions.


Rights groups accuse Iraq’s justice system of corruption, carrying out rushed trials on circumstantial evidence and failing to allow the accused a proper defense.
They also condemn cramped conditions in detention centers, saying those arrested for petty crimes are often held with hardened jihadists, facilitating radicalization.
Iraq’s government has declined to provide figures on detention centers or prisoners, including how many are facing terrorism-related charges, although some studies estimate 20,000 are being held for purported Daesh links.
UN Human Rights Commissioner Michelle Bachelet said late last year that given such gaps in Iraq’s legal system, implementing capital punishment “may amount to an arbitrary deprivation of life by the State.”
Ali Bayati, a leading member of Iraq’s Human Rights Commission, told AFP the country had “limited options.”
“Capital punishment is part of the Iraqi legal system — and we do not have real rehabilitation centers,” he said.
“We lack clear guarantees and real transparency in the interrogation and ruling sessions, and in allowing human rights organizations to play their role.”