December 21, 2014 / 6:53 PM / 3 years ago

Jordan hangs 11 after eight-year death penalty freeze

AMMAN (Reuters) - Jordan executed 11 citizens on Sunday, ending an eight-year moratorium on capital punishment, judicial sources said.

The hanged men were among 120 Jordanians convicted of capital crimes in the last 10 years, according to the sources.

Jordan halted executions in 2006, but a recent rise in violent crime has resulted in calls to reimpose capital punishment.

The kingdom has in the past been sensitive to international concerns on human rights and civil liberties because it relies greatly on Western aid.

Jordan amended its penal code in 2006 in response to concerns expressed by the U.N. Human Rights Council over the number of offences punishable by death.

”With these executions, Jordan loses its standing as a rare progressive voice on the death penalty in the region,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at the U.S.-based Human Rights Watch. “Reviving this inherently cruel form of punishment is another way Jordan is backsliding on human rights.”

Most of those executed in Jordan in recent decades have been common criminals, while al Qaeda-inspired Islamist detainees handed death sentences in terrorism-related security trials usually saw their convictions commuted to life imprisonment.

Reporting by Suleiman Al-Khalidi; Editing by Abigail Fielding-Smith

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