(MENAFN - Jordan Times) AMMAN — Lawmakers on Tuesday amended the Code of Criminal Procedure, and vowed "continued action" against 'extreme Israeli measures' in Jerusalem holy sites.
Deputies continued to present their arguments regarding the amendments made by the House Legal Committee to the Code of Criminal Procedure to reach prompt judicial verdicts and modernise the appeal process in criminal court judgements.
Article 54 of the Code of Criminal Procedure states that in crimes punishable by death, life imprisonment or hard labour for 10 years or more, a defence lawyer must be present to represent the defendant at each trial session.
The amended law, which will be implemented 180 days after being published in the Official Gazette, will realise the principle of legal help without charge through a legal assistance fund to be formed under the supervision of the Ministry of Justice.
MP Saleh Armouti (Amman, 3rd District) criticised the amendments made to Article 54 describing them as 'dangerous to the Jordanian Bar Association [JBA]'.
'The Ministry of Justice is holding agreements with foreign entities to provide legal aid, yet according to the JBA code, the head of the JBA has the authority to provide legal aid through the 12,000 members of the association,' added Armouti.
'These agreements are made to circumvent the JBA and are implemented through foreign funding. It is better to resolve the issue and coordinate with the JBA to prevent personal and foreign agendas,' concluded Armouti.
In his response, Minister of Justice Awad Mashagbeh assured the Lower House that the ministry 'does not have any agreements with any foreign entity to provide any legal aid' labelling the allegations as 'baseless'.
According to Mashagbeh 'the government has expanded the range of crimes for which the treasury is willing to provide free legal aid to the defendant. The Ministry of Justice will not be able to appoint any lawyer without collaborating with the JBA'.
Deputy Dima Tahboub (Amman,3rd District) brought attention to a 'terminology fault when addressing people with mental disabilities' in Article 63 of the amended law.
'My note is important, the term used in this article is disrespectful to a class of people that we respect. As the term mentally retarded is not used anymore, even in international conventions and treaties, we should change it to mental disabilities,' added Tahboub.
The minister of justice argued that 'the term mentally retarded is used in other legislative pieces and reports issued by official mental health evaluation institutes, so I believe in order to unite terms and identify mental cognition, it would be appropriate to use this term for legal purposes'.
Head of the House Legal Committee Mustafa Khasawneh and lawmakers adopted Tahboub's suggestion, and the term was changed to "mentally disabled".
Meanwhile, Lower House Speaker Atef Tarawneh responded to the Israeli Knesset statements saying: 'I will not respond now, the proper response will be in the results of the actions taken on the ground, through addressing the Arab and international parliaments to expose the Israeli violations that have affected humans, stones and trees.'
'The occupation's stubbornness to keep its extreme policies, which are reflected in placing metal detectors, is considered an unwelcome violation of the status quo. The occupation should look closely at the reasons pushing the Palestinian youth to hold on to the resistance option due to an absence of a fair solution for their cause,' concluded Tarawneh.
Al Islah bloc sent a memorandum to Tarawneh stating that "What Al Aqsa and the Islamic holy sites in Jerusalem and Palestine are undergoing is an unprecedented case of violation and crime since the beginning of the Israeli occupation. The crime of closing Al Aqsa Mosque and not allowing prayer to be held there is only exceeded in ugliness by the crime of burning the holy mosque.
"We in Jordan, out of duty, brotherhood and responsibility towards the holy sites and Al Aqsa… demand urgent action from all organisations and parliamentary entities of which Jordan is a part of.'
Tarawneh, according to the Jordan News Agency, Petra, sent a cable to the Moroccan Lower House Speaker and Head of the Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union Habib El Malki demanding an urgent meeting to discuss the latest developments and to defend Jerusalem holy sites.
The cable stated: 'We in Jordan are seeking your support to pressure Israel to stop its intervention in holy sites in Jerusalem and preventing prayers in Al Aqsa Mosque, which is protected by all religion and human rights conventions and international laws.'
The Lower House also agreed to provide friendly parliaments with a list of 'racist Israeli laws' which amount to 129 since may 2005.
Tarawneh adjourned the session till Sunday.