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Jordan executes 11 after 8-year death penalty freeze

Return of capital punishment, suspended in 2006, follows lawmakers' pressure for response to rising crime rates
Sajida al-Rishawi, convicted of involvement in the 2005 Amman bombings, is still on death row (AFP/Jordanian TV)

Eight years after Jordan suspended its death penalty, eleven death-row inmates convicted of murder were executed by hanging at dawn on Sunday, the Interior Ministry announced.

"The death sentences were issued by the country’s High Criminal Court over murder charges,” Interior Ministry spokesman Ziad Zubi said in a statement.

“The [11] were executed after the Court of Cassation ratified the verdicts and after meeting all the legal procedures stipulated in the Criminal Procedure Code,” Zubi said. 

Authorities said the men were all Jordanians convicted on murder charges in 2005 and 2006.

Earlier this year, several Jordanian lawmakers called for unfreezing the implementation of capital punishment - suspended by King Abdullah II of Jordan in 2006 - in order to curb the recent rise in crime rates.

Before these executions, the Jordanian monarch has not signed off on any death penalty since 2006, which is a legal prerequisite for carrying out the sentence. Jordan’s last execution was in June 2006. Since then, 122 people have been sentenced to death and remain in prison.

Interior Minister Hussein Majali suggested recently that the death penalty freeze might end, saying there was a “major debate” in Jordan on the death penalty and that “the public believes that the rise in crime has been the result of the non-application” of capital punishment.

A number of countries in the Middle East continue to impose the death penalty for serious crimes, including Jordan’s neighbour Saudi Arabia, which has executed 83 people this year.

According to a report published by human rights group Amnesty International in March, China has carried out thousands of executions last year. Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the United States are in the top list for implementing capital punishment.

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