Dialogue Seminar on International Fair Trial Standards

Within the framework of the Amman Center for Human Rights Studies (ACHRS) program to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a symposium entitled “International Standards for Fair Trials” was held at the University of Jerash in cooperation with the Faculty of Law on Monday, 19/11/2018. Professors as well as more than 100 students from the faculty of law attended the event.

Professor Ahmed Al Hawamdeh, Dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Jerash, spoke about the importance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the extent of its implementation and its comprehensiveness, pointing out that also the Islamic religion has deep foundations in the field of human rights. However, he underlined that the lack of implementation of the Universal Declaration in the Arab world, because of the ongoing wars and terrorist attacks, makes people lose hope regarding its importance. Furthermore, he added that the Declaration itself was produced after a period of great devastation due to the world war; therefore there should still be hope for the Arab countries.

Dr. Nizam Assaf, Director of ACHRS, spoke about the importance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and its role in achieving international humanitarian standards. He underlined how the Declaration, issued in full conformity with the United Nations General Assembly in 1948 as an important humanitarian achievement and a fundamental turning point in the respect and protection of human rights, is the result of the interaction of thinkers and scholars from different civilizations, cultures and religions. This is why all the rights should be followed by every human being regardless their race, color, religion, belief, opinion and status.

Dr. Nizam added that the Declaration guarantees most of the rights acquired by the human being, from the right to preserve and maintain human dignity and the legal freedom, which should not be violated under any circumstances or under any pretext. The Declaration sought to spread the culture of human rights and a legal international framework as a that resembles a Constitution for all people despite their different culture and this process is embodied thanks to the United Nations, which became an umbrella of all countries of the world. He also stressed, within this Declaration, the universality of human rights and the importance of working together with the aim to protect these rights from any violation.

Dr. Jihad Al-Otaibi, President of the Administrative Tribunal of the League of Arab States, Judge and President of the Jordanian Administrative Tribunal, talked about the international standards of fair trial and the fact that a fair trial is a fundamental human right recognized internationally and should have an impact in every national law as well.

Al-Otaibi explained that pre-trial rights include: the right to freedom, the right of a detained person to have access to his or her information, the right to have a lawyer before the trial, the right to communicate with the outside world and the right to appear without delay in front of a judge, the right to a fair trial within a reasonable period of time, the right to have adequate time and facilities for the preparation of the defense, the right to humanitarian conditions in custody and not to be tortured.

Moreover, Al-Otaibi added that detainees rights during the trial include: the right to be treated equally in front of the law and the courts, the right to have a trial with a competent and independent court established in accordance with the law, the right to fair consideration of cases, the right to public hearing of cases, the right to be able to prove innocence, the right to exclude any built case obtained from torture or other forms of coercion, the right to prohibit the retroactive application of criminal laws or to try the accused twice for the same offense, the right to attend trials and appeals, the right to summon witnesses and to debate, and the right to appeal.

Dr. Ghaleb Hawamdeh, head of the Public Law Department at the Faculty of Law, said that the articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are recommendations and moral wishes that are universally accepted and respected. However, human rights in the Arab countries have a religious nature belonging to the Muslim belief.

In the end, a dialogue took place between the lecturers and the students who attended the seminar and showed a high level of positive understanding and cooperation, making this activity successful.

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