Jordan Parliament to Vote on Country's First Anti-Terrorism Law

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Jordan's King Abdullah II summoned parliament on Thursday to meet in a special session to vote on the country's first anti-terrorism law, criticized by Jordanian opposition as restrictive of public freedoms.

Lawmakers were asked to gather to deal with the measures drafted after triple suicide blasts killed 60 people at Amman hotels in November. The attacks were blamed on militants linked to Al Qaeda factions in Iraq.

Abdullah called on the 110-seat Lower House of Parliament, which has been on recess since March, to assemble for an extraordinary session on Sunday.

An absolute monarch who has the power to dissolve parliament and rule by decree, Abdullah asked lawmakers to debate and endorse 41 other laws drafted by government and dealing with economic and political reform.

CountryWatch: Jordan

These include a bill that sets the stage for promised nationwide municipal elections, and Jordan's first anti-money laundering legislation.

Jordan, a key U.S. ally, is supportive of Washington's global war on terrorism. The kingdom closely cooperates and exchanges intelligence data with U.S. authorities on suspicious financial transactions and on groups considered a terrorist threat.

The new anti-terrorism law would be the first legislation in Jordan to specifically tackle issues considered a hazard to national security. Authorities previously depended on the country's penal code to handle terrorism-related issues.

The terrorism bill deems that relations with any terrorist group and organization is an act of terror, whether through direct action or indirectly through financing.

The bill also states that recruiting people for domestic or foreign terror networks is a terrorist action, as well as possessing, manufacturing or transporting any raw material that can be used in the production of weapons for use in attacks.

The law would allow Jordanian prosecutors to arrest terror suspects and detain them two weeks for questioning, or place them under tight surveillance and bar them from leaving the country. It specifies that terrorism-related cases must be tried by a military court.

A coalition of 13 Jordanian opposition groups dominated by leftists and Muslim hard-liners rebuked the draft law as restrictive of public freedoms and said it could be used by the government to control its opposition.