Monday, May 20, 2024

The Jordanian authorities must immediately halt the forcible deportation of two Syrian refugees who would face credible risks of serious human rights violations if they are returned to Syria, Amnesty International said today. Refugees forcibly deported to Syria are at risk of persecution, torture and other ill-treatment, enforced disappearance and arbitrary arrest.

In April, Jordanian authorities arrested Syrian refugees, Atiya Mohammad Abu Salem, 24 years old, and Wael al-Ashi, 31 years old, during a sweeping crackdown on pro-Gaza protests, and the Ministry of Interior subsequently issued deportation orders for them. The men were not referred to a judicial body, nor charged with any crime. From the moment of their arrest, they were subjected to a litany of violations, including not being informed of the reason for their arrest or deportation order, not being given an opportunity to challenge their arrest, and being interrogated without the presence of a lawyer. An appeal against their deportation order is still ongoing before the Administrative Court.

“It’s a deplorable state of affairs that the Jordanian authorities are considering sending these two men back to a place where their lives would be at risk. Jordanian authorities are well aware that no part of Syria is safe and that people who are forced to return are at real risk of suffering human rights violations, including torture or persecution on account of their perceived political opinion. Instead of protecting these young men, Jordanian authorities are showing a callous disregard for their safety,” said Aya Majzoub, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

“The Jordanian authorities must provide the legal grounds for detaining Atiya Mohammad Abu Salem and Wael Al-Ashi or release them immediately. They must, in any case, revoke the deportation order against them or risk patently violating their obligations under international law.”

The principle of non-refoulement is a binding customary rule of international law that prohibits states from returning people to a place where they would be at risk of persecution or other serious human rights violations. Anyone at risk of deportation should be allowed to access legal counsel, meet with the UNCHR, and challenge their deportation in court in fair and transparent proceedings.

It’s a deplorable state of affairs that the Jordanian authorities are considering sending these two men back to a place where their lives would be at risk.

Aya Majzoub, Amnesty International

Wael al-Ashi sought asylum and has been residing in Jordan for the past 13 years. Atiya Mohammad Abu Salem is also an asylum seeker in Jordan. His family fled to Jordan in 2013, after the killing of his father, reportedly by Syrian government forces.

On 3 April 2024, Jordanian forces raided Wael al-Ashi’s apartment looking for his roommates who had participated in a pro-Gaza protest. He was arrested alongside his friends, even though he did not take part in the protests. He remains detained at Marka Prison in the capital Amman.

On 9 April 2024, Jordanian security forces arrested Atiya Mohammad Abu Salem while he was on his way to film pro-Gaza protests in Amman. His lawyer told Amnesty International that this week, the authorities transferred Atiya Mohammad Abu Salem from the Marka Prison to the Central Amman Police Directorate in preparation for his deportation. On 14 May, he started an open-ended hunger strike in protest of his deportation order.

On 22 April, an Administrative Court in Amman rejected an urgent request to halt the deportation of both men. Meanwhile, the court is considering an appeal challenging the deportation orders, submitted by a legal aid organization on behalf of both men.

On 2 May, Amnesty International wrote to the Jordanian Ministry of Interior urgently requesting clarification as to the legal basis for the arrest and deportation orders of both men, but had not received a response at the time of publication.

Amnesty International has documented a disturbing pattern in which Syrian authorities target those who have returned to the country after having previously fled. Those targeted have subsequently been subjected to torture, arbitrary detention and enforced disappearance. Amnesty International opposes returns to Syria in all cases except where they are voluntary and based on free and informed consent.


Since 7 October 2023, the Jordanian authorities have arrested at least 1,500 people, including around 500 detained since March following huge protests outside the Israeli Embassy in Amman.

Deportations in Jordan fall under the authority of the Ministry of Interior and by law are implemented through a governor’s office. Articles 32 and 37 of Law No.24 of 1973 on Residence and Foreigners’ Affairs, allow the governor or the Minister of Interior to expel foreigners for their “illegal presence.” Article 19 of the same law allows the Minister to cancel a foreigner’s residency permit without justification.

Tags: Jordan, Human Rights, Freedom of expression, DDHH.