Letter to Marouf Bakhit on the Occasion of Independence Day

From King Abdallah II of Jordan
To Marouf Bakhit
On the occasion of Independence Day
25 May 2011
Translated from Arabic

In the name of God, the Most Merciful, the Compassionate

Your Excellency, It is my pleasure to send to you and your colleagues, the ministers, my greetings, and to express my appreciation for your efforts in the service of the nation and its people. I would like, as our faithful people celebrate the 65th anniversary of Jordan’s independence, to address you and your ministerial team regarding national issues that must be reviewed and swiftly addressed.

Foremost among these is our directive to you and the concerned ministers to issue a general pardon. Weeks ago, the concerned authorities were directed to study the legal aspects of a pardon in implementation of our view that forgiveness is a noble gesture that stems from our keenness to ease the suffering of Jordanians that resulted from the harsh worldwide economic conditions, especially the families and dependents of those who have erred.

It is our opinion that it would be useful and productive for those who have violated the law to be given the chance to correct their mistakes and modify their conduct, without compromising the personal rights of those they have wronged.

At the same time, we reiterate that alleviating the burdens of such wrong doings on immediate dependents should not be interpreted as a sign of weakness. Jordan remains a state of law that does not deviate from what is right. This gesture is meant to give a chance to wrongdoers to learn from their mistakes, adjust their conduct towards society and fellow citizens and seize the opportunity to build a future of confidence and optimism.

The other issue we draw your attention to is the destructive impact on society and state by those who commit character assassination by slandering innocent citizens and state agencies under the guise of fighting corruption.

God's wisdom and teachings urge us to seek only the truth. The Quran says: "O ye who believe! If a wicked person comes to you with any news, ascertain the truth, lest ye harm people unwittingly, and afterwards become full of repentance for what ye have done." Jordanians agree that corruption is to be opposed, but they also oppose using corruption as an excuse to bring about harm to others. All those who have evidence of corruption, regardless of the time or irrespective of the social status of the alleged perpetrators, should present such evidence to the impartial and just judiciary so that justice is aptly served. Relying on rumors and hearsay that defames and libels people is an act of incitement that is not to be tolerated, and those who engage in such incitement must be held accountable before the law, as they only seek a society that celebrates hatred and that condemns people on the basis of hearsay and libel, instead of a society that is governed by legal institutions.

Our conviction that justice is the cornerstone of governance is firm. And justice is complemented by a neutral and strict judicial system that leaves no room for hearsay and rumor [and] ends controversies by stating the truth and ensuring justice for citizens, investors and officials alike. We are confident that the only answer to the culture of rumour-mongering, complaining and exaggerating of the magnitude of corruption and the damage it causes is the public’s full realisation that the judiciary is the shield against all forms of corruption and the swift and transparent management of law proceedings.

In as much as it is the state’s responsibility to enforce the law on the corrupt, reveal the findings of investigations into all the cases of public interest, and to hold accountable the corrupt as well as those failing to carry out their duties so that they pay for their inefficiency or corrupt actions in a timely and transparent manner. At the same time, the state must be committed to protecting the victims of such of character assassination and libel. Therefore, we emphasise the importance of speedy and competent cooperation among all authorities and constitutional and civil society institutions to put an end to the phenomenon of false accusations. A  firm legal and judicial stance must be arrived at that enhances people's right to take action against corruption and the corrupt, bring them to justice and protect the victims of destructive slander.

We warn about the reluctance to present the public with facts, and about condoning the hateful gossip and agitation against the innocent among us, who regrettably were also members of my family despite their honorable high national standing. This is not the first time that hateful gossip and false accusations have targeted our honored family members. What is happening today is reminiscent of the slander my late father, Al Hussein the nation builder, was also subjected to – false accusations that Jordanians repelled with their firm belief in their leadership. That same faithfulness and loyalty are echoed in the noble stand of the majority of our beloved people who have expressed their condemnation of baseless accusations targeting innocent people.

The other issue that the government must clarify to the public – in particular since it has had adverse social and economic ramifications and has occupied the public mind for the past weeks – is the mistakes and shortcomings in handling certain corruption cases. The lack of information and the confused statements on these cases have led to rumors that have eclipsed the truth, harmed innocent people and were taken as a license to sow discord and spread rumors. Again, there is a need to quickly build a judicial and legal stand on these issues, so as to end speculation and respond to the rumors with facts. We also remind you of the importance of holding accountable every official who has failed to enforce the law in any case in question. Such failures tarnish the image of Jordan, which we boast of as a state of law and institutions.

In this context, we direct the executive, legislative and judicial authorities to proceed swiftly in holding accountable any person who is proved to have failed in properly handling these cases, either by interfering in the process of law enforcement or by taking unsound decisions on related procedural matters, whether such decisions were deliberate or negligent. Any person who is proved to have failed should be held responsible.

We assert again the need to protect the freedom of expression and the media’s right to search for the truth. We also emphasise our determination to fight all attempts to spread hatred and demoralization in the hope that a serious, concerted effort is made by all official, judicial, legal and popular entities to reinstate confidence in the country’s accomplishments and institutions, as we embrace a new year of independence, which our grandfathers and fathers struggled to achieve and protect. We have vowed to preserve our independence and maintain Jordan as a country of freedom, justice, democracy and human dignity.

May God grant us success in serving this country and maintaining its prosperity and high status.

Happy Independence Day to Jordan and the faithful Jordanians.

Abdullah II Ibn Al Hussein
Amman, 25 May 2011