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General Pardon Law 2024

Apr 08,2024 - Last updated at Apr 08,2024

Royal Decree was issued on April 2 endorsing the General Pardon Law for the year 2024. This is the fourth General Pardon Law issued by His Majesty King Abdullah II and the eighteenth since the establishment of the Kingdom.

It provides amnesty for all criminal offenses, misdemeanours, violations and criminal acts committed before March 19, 2024, simply the criminality of the act ceases to exist. Except for the criminal acts explicitly mentioned and excluded from the law, all criminal claims and penalties related to those crimes are dropped, and cases covered by this law are exempt from fines and fees in their entirety.

Pursuant to Article 50/2 of the Jordanian Penal Code a general pardon erases the criminality of the act, hence, eliminating both the crime itself and its corresponding punishment. This entails that the offence, subsequent to the pardon, is deemed to have never occurred. This results in the erasure of all criminal consequences of the crime retroactively. As the General Pardon becomes part of the local legislation, the courts are bound to adhere and comply with its provision, pending charges before relevant courts will be dropped and dismissed, even an accused person cannot request to continue the case to prove his innocence as a pardon is akin to innocence in terms of its outcome.

From a civil perspective, the General Pardon Law does not affect civil rights. The general pardon has no impact on the rights of the person affected by the crime; their right to claim compensation remains valid as it is an acquired right.

By comparing the General Pardon Law for the year 2024 with its predecessor in 2019 reveals a broadening of exceptions. While the former law exempted 23 crimes from amnesty, the current law extends to 38 crimes. Among the most notable exceptions are those relating to state security, terrorism, weapons and ammunition offences, breach of public duties, forgery of state seals, causing death, arson, fraud, economic crimes and offences under Cybercrime Law, Competition Law, and Environmental Law. Moreover, fines associated with income tax, sales tax and customs law are also excluded from this amnesty.

Despite having more exceptions compared to the previous law, critiques have emerged for being too wide, particularly in its inclusion of various financial crimes without requisite conditions. Incorporating financial crimes without the need to make a settlement with the aggrieved party is seen as jeopardising individuals’ financial rights. It is recognised that financial crimes such as bounced cheques and breach of trust are not solely criminalised for the purpose of general deterrence but also to safeguard the rights of others and restore assets to their rightful owners, a function inadequately fulfilled by other legal mechanisms.

The recent amendment of the Jordanian Panel Code in 2022 left the punishment related to bounced cheques. In particular, Article 421/8 stipulated that the criminalisation related to bounced cheques will cease to exist after three years from incorporating the amended law, that is 2025. Due to the importance of this provision in the financial sector, which comes as a suitable deterrence security measure, this provision was widely discussed and debated. Eventually it was agreed that a duration of three years will be sufficient to establish a replacement for criminalising bounced cheques and producing a better security mechanism. Despite not finishing these three years, bounced cheques were incorporated in the amnesty law. This came as a surprise to the banks, financial institutions as well as merchants.

Pardon law is not just another piece of legislation; it stands as a reflection of His Majesty’s values and aspirations for justice within the nation. Reflecting the core values of His Majesty’s vision for a just and inclusive nation, this law offers hope, redemption, and a pathway for individuals to reintegrate into society and contribute positively, while also serving broader societal goals of fairness and compassion.

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