26 May 2003

Toujan al-Faisal denied the right to stand for the parliamentary elections

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) is very concerned with the judgment of a Jordanian Court delivered on 24 May 2003 rejecting the contest by Toujan al-Faisal, who was deemed ineligible to run in the upcoming parliamentary elections. Ms. Al-Faisal had decided to file a request before the Kingdom’s Court of First Instance after the decision of 20 May 2003 of the Elections Committee not to allow her to stand as a candidate in the 17 June elections. The latter rejected Toujan al-Faisal’s application on the grounds that she had previously committed a non-political offence.

Ms. al-Faisal, Jordan’s first-ever woman MP, is suffering of the consequences of an arbitrary sentence. On 16 May 2002, she was convicted of defamation and sentenced to 18 months prison after she wrote a letter accusing the Jordanian Prime Minister of financial wrongdoing. She was released by a special royal pardon on 26 June 2002, which did not however annul her alleged crime.

The FIDH considers that the Elections Committee and the Court decisions are based on an unfair condemnation. Indeed, she was sentenced because she exercised without violence her freedom of speech, guaranteed by Article 15 of the Jordanian Constitution and Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, ratified by Jordan in 1976. Moreover, there was no reason why she was judged under an anti-terrorist law before a State security Court as she denounced the Prime Minister benefiting financially from a government decision to double car insurance costs. At the time of the trial, the FIDH had considered that the State Security Court did not provide sufficient guarantees of independence and impartiality as set out, among others, in Article 10 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Moreover, the FIDH considers that the Court’s decision might reveal a contradiction with Article 75 of the Jordanian Constitution that stipulates that “no person shall become a Senator or Deputy (...) who was sentenced to a term of imprisonment exceeding one year for a non-political offence and has not been pardoned”. The FIDH underlines that no appeal is possible against the Court of First Instance’s decision.

The FIDH is very preoccupied by this decision that prevents Toujan al-Faisal from enjoying her right and opportunity to take part in the conduct of public affairs set out in Article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Last Update 8 December 2003
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