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Reactivation of death penalty fuels heated debate on Twitter

By Mohammad Ghazal , Omar Obeidat - Dec 22,2014 - Last updated at Dec 22,2014

AMMAN — The resumption of capital punishment in Jordan triggered a debate on Twitter this week, with many users giving the thumbs up for the move and a few others, including foreign ambassadors, criticising the decision.

“The resumption of the death penalty is one of the best decisions by the government in Jordan since I was born,” Twitter user Panadol (@abusaraahmad) tweeted Monday.

Journalist Khaldoun Majali (@khaldounmajali) agreed.

“Reinstating capital punishment in Jordan is a step in the right direction to avoid turning prisons into costly welfare centres for criminals and so that the community enjoys security,” Majali tweeted.

The execution of 11 men Sunday signalled reinstating the death penalty in Jordan after it had been frozen since March 2006. The executions, which were carried out at Swaqa Correctional and Rehabilitation Centre at dawn, started at 4am and ended at 7:45am.

There are 113 individuals, including 12 women, who are awaiting execution in Jordan.

Several Twitter users said activating the death penalty ensures that justice prevails, but added that Jordan will come under heavy criticism from several countries and human rights groups after the decision.

After Jordan announced the executions on Sunday, several Twitter users slammed the decision, including some foreign ambassadors.

“#Jordan takes step in wrong direction with execution of 11 on Sunday. No evidence #deathpenalty is crime deterrent,” Swedish Ambassador in Amman Helena Rietz (@HelenaRietz) tweeted after the news of the execution.

“Concern over today’s news that #Jordan has broken its moratorium on #deathpenalty. 11 executed this morning. #Sweden & EU urge abolishment,” Rietz also tweeted.

British Ambassador in Jordan Peter Millet (@PeterMillett1) had a similar reaction.

“UK regrets the use of the 11 executions in #Jordan today [Sunday] after 8-year moratorium. The death penalty undermines human #dignity,” tweeted the British diplomat.

Another Twitter user, Majdi Salaita (@majdisalaita), wrote: “This is an unfortunate day in the history of Jordan. Statistics and studies show the penalty is not deterrent.”

The criticism by ambassadors in Jordan of the executions provoked MP Tarek Khoury, who called on the diplomats not to interfere in Jordan’s internal issues. 

Khoury wrote on his Twitter account (@TarekSamiKhoury) that he was personally against capital punishment but foreign diplomats should stay away from Jordanian issues, saying any ambassador who interferes in domestic issues should be asked to leave the Kingdom.

The pan-Arab-leaning deputy accused the ambassadors of hypocrisy as they pretend to be advocates of human rights and humanity, while at the same time support Israel, which he described as the world’s major criminal. 

“I say to all Western ambassadors who call for humanity, where is your humanity when thousands of innocent souls [are] tortured in Israel prisons,” Khoury tweeted.   

“I repeat I’m against death penalty yet I wish to expel any Western ambassadors who interfere with a JO internal issue while supporting Israel,” he added.

“I say to shameless ambassadors do not interfere with a Jordanian internal issue when you support Israelis the world major criminal.”

Countries that oppose death penalty encourage the Israeli occupation and provide them with the means and weapons to kill Palestinians, the lawmaker said. 

Khoury criticised Millett’s comments, saying: “The UK posses more than 225 nuclear warheads... And WMDs [weapons of mass destruction]... And still preaches about capital punishment.” 

During the British mandate in Palestine, hundreds of Palestinians were executed by the UK, he added. 

Islamic Centrist Party Deputy Madallah Tarawneh also criticised the British ambassador’s comments.

In a statement carried by the Jordan News Agency, Petra, Tarawneh said Millett is interfering in Jordan’s internal affairs through his remarks, urging the foreign ministry to summon the ambassador to request a clarification and warn him against interference.

The deputy commended the implementation of the death penalty, noting that the majority of Jordanians support it from a legal and religious perspective. 

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