Amman, Asharq Al-Awsat – Two weeks after signing an memorandum of understanding to hand over suspects between the two countries, the Jordanian authorities revealed on Thursday that it intends to give official assurances to its British counterpart that it would not carry out the death penalty punishment against any Jordanian citizen residing in Britain which the government intends to hand over to Amman.
Dr. Adnan Badran , Jordan ’s Prime Minister, indicated that “we will give [the British] guarantees that the death penalty will not apply to Omar Abu Omar [Abu Qatada]. Our government is currently studying all the options available in this respect.”
He indicated that his government had not requested the memorandum be revised to return suspects from Britain, adding that London has granted refugee status to a number of individuals, including suspected terrorist sympathizers, but that it refuses to abide by existing extradition treaties because of human rights concerns, which the new memorandum has sought to address.
The media was to blame for creating controversy surrounding the case he added.
Also on Thursday, Awni Yirfas, Jordanian Interior Minister met the British ambassador to Amman and discussed trying British citizens in the Jordanian courts.
A legal source told Asharq al Awsat that it was illegal for the government to guarantee the death penalty would not apply to any country or institution as this would mean it was interfering in the judicial system and court decisions. However, the source said, “It was possible for the government, when a death penalty decision is presented to it by the courts to decline to apply the decision after a recommendation by King Abdullah.”
Bound by the European convention on human rights, the British government has so far refused to hand over the Jordanian cleric fearing that he would be put to death on return to Amman. London has requested guarantees that he would not be sentenced to death or tortured.
Meanwhile, a human rights organization in Amman refused a British request to monitor the application of the memorandum of understanding between the two countries which protects deportees.
Hani al Dahla, head of the Jordanian branch of the Arab Organization for Human Rights refused to meet with a British embassy delegation to discuss his group examining the application of the memorandum.
Yirfais revealed that the expected hand over of Abu Qatada three weeks ago has yet to happen but did not know why London had not yet deported the cleric to Jordan.
A Jordanian security delegation had visited the British capital earlier to thrash out the details of the extradition with British Authorities.
Abu Qatada is expected to be handed over to the general prosecutor upon arrival in Amman and not to security services.