Tujan al-Bukhaiti is a 17-year-old Yemeni refugee being tried over charges of “blasphemy” and “insulting religious feelings” over her social media posts expressing her opinion on religious and intellectual topics and sharing her father’s posts. On 19 December 2019, she was interrogated by the Juvenile Police following a report by the Jordanian Cybercrime Unit. Police forces took her statement without the presence of her lawyer and parents, violating her fair trial rights. During interrogation, the officer in charge opened her Facebook page and made insulting comments with regards to Tujan al-Bukhaiti’s family. Tujan al-Bukhaiti’s trial started on 16 January 2020, with three sessions adjourned so far. If convicted, she could face one month in prison.
Jordan has ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and thus has an international obligation to respect, protect and fulfil the right to freedom of expression. Tujan al-Bukhaiti is being prosecuted under Article 11 of the 2015 cybercrime law that prohibits spreading allegedly “defamatory content. However, Article 15 of the Jordanian constitution guarantees the right to freedom of expression. Therefore, criminalizing Tujan al-Bukhaiti’s social media posts would set a dangerous precedent curtailing that right.
Due to the ongoing proceedings, Tujan al-Bukhaiti has had to miss at least three days of school to attend her court hearings. Those court hearings were later adjourned because representatives of the Cybercrime Unit, the plaintiffs, did not attend. Tujan al-Bukhaiti was also forced to take her exams on different dates than her classmates because the administration would not allow her to take them.
I urge you to ensure that all charges against Tujan al-Bukhaiti are immediately dropped, as they constitute a violation to her right to freedom of expression.