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Wed 4 Apr 2012 03:15 PM

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Jordan's lèse majesté law is "draconian" - lobbyist

Amnesty International slams country for laws that criminalise insulting king

Jordan's lèse majesté law is "draconian" - lobbyist
Jordan has seen protests amid the Arab Spring.

Legislation in Jordan that allows individuals who insult the country's king to be detained has been slammed as "draconian" by a prominent human rights group.

Amnesty International has demanded changes to the Levante country's lèse majesté law as the number of peaceful protesters being held in the capital Amman rose to between 30 and 40.

According to the international body, at least 13 people remain in custody in the wake of protests at the weekend, in addition to half a dozen pro-reform activists who are also in detention.

Another four activists have also been held for nearly a month and are now facing charges of insulting ruler King Abdullah II amid a growing crackdown on freedom of expression.

They face trial before the State Security Court (SSC), a special court which Amnesty International claims does not meet international fair trial standards.

“Jordan continues to use a draconian law which effectively criminalises political dissent as a way to silence political opponents and government critics,” said Ann Harrison, deputy director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa programme.

"So far as we know, these individuals have not advocated violence or gone beyond the legitimate exercise of their right to freedom of expression and therefore the authorities are effectively violating rights which they have an obligation to protect under international law standards."