The Sanctity of Life and the Rule of Law

By Jumana Ghunaimat

تم نشره في Sat 6 May / May 2017. 12:00 AM
  • Jumana Ghunaimat

Investigations into the case of the 18 year old’s death, while in custody of the police, indicate, so far, that his death may be caused by torture.

It almost completely undermines our belief in the law and its rule.

Interestingly, it conjures to our memory the stories our grandmothers tell us, about Ottoman soldiers and their prisons.

The image of the young man, who was charged and detained for a week, unveils the scale of violation he endured by the police.

What an appalling sight it is, to see ugliness undress itself without restraint, moral, humane, or otherwise; no supervision, legal authority, or respect for the sanctity of life.

Mindfully, the preservation of life is the pillar of social organisation and the foremost purpose of law enforcement.

However, in an autocracy, where there is absolute power, it corrupts absolutely. Is this an autocracy?!

Those who hold the enforcement of the law in their hand, for no justifiable reason, in a slumber of conscience and morality, decided to land the final blow to a youngling, to end his life!

What about his mother? Have they not thought about her when they killed him? His father? How will they feel when they receive their son, dead, and for a crime that is not deserving of death?! Exacted upon them by those whom are supposed to protect us? Save our lives?

Surely, they have not even begun to fathom the calamity of their deed!

Do they not understand the shame and insult they have brought upon their department and precinct?!

Haven’t their slogan always been “to serve” and protect? How much distrust does this evoke among the people?

This is not the first time society is forced by such an incident to revaluate their relationship with the state and the police, nor will it be the last.

So much violation has taken place that the restoring trust between the public and the police is soon irreparable. It almost completely blemishes the very idea of the rule of law and its equal and just enforcement.

So much transgression against detainees go unchecked and unaddressed.

An example on this took place a few months ago. The full force of the police was unleashed to detain a youth for using his phone while driving. Twelve policemen, at least, dropped tear gas into his car and beat the living breath out of him. All for a simple misconduct deserving no more than a fine.

In this particularly difficult time, it is crucial that the police and security personnel dedicate themselves to the welfare of society.

Police are required, here and now, to be supportive of citizens not oppressive; to abide by the minimum requirement of enforcement needed to uphold the law, not take life so lightly.

Instead of scaring people away, breaking ties with society, the authorities should seek to restore trust in their institution and their noble quest.

No one should die in custody; no parent deserves to see their child released from incarceration to the grave!

The most important development in the case of the late youth, may he rest in peace, lies in the decision of the chief of police, Gen Ahmad Faqih, last week.

Perhaps for the first time in Jordan, the chief of police decides to hold every officer and personnel involved in the young man’s case in detention.

His orders were to assign a special investigation committee to investigate his death and its every detail, in order to take all the necessary decisions and procedures against all who prove to be implicated in the youth’s death.

The Public Security Directorate (PSD)’s statements, with more detail perhaps, says: a detainee, born in 1998, at the Jiza Badia precinct, was being investigated for a criminal charge, when he suddenly fainted and was taken to a hospital. He died almost immediately upon arrival!

The committee of four doctors all concur to their being bruises and traces of torture all over his body.

Tissue samples are to be extracted and sent to the forensics crime lab to uncover the main reason of death, which raises hope that maybe such reckless and immoral behaviours may be put to end!

There is record, plenty of it actually, of such incidents taking place around the world. But that’s beside the point.

The important thing here and now is that we learn how to deal with this and how to ensure the just and fair enforcement of law and appropriate punishment.

More so; that the exaction of punishment is carried out by those respectively charged and delegated with the responsibility to enforce law.

This is the basic enabler of the fair and just enforcement of law to ensure the equal and civil rule of law.

This article is an edited translation of the Arabic version, published by AlGhad.