By Jassar Al Tahat – Feb 28,2017

AMMAN — The Lower House approved the draft environment protection law on Tuesday after an extended discussion during a legislative session, which saw one MP call for the death penalty for violators.

Lawmakers voted not to give law enforcement powers to environmental inspectors, sparking an extensive debate between MPs over the issue.

Some deputies argued that expanding law enforcement powers to environmental inspectors “runs the risk that these powers will be abused”.

Deputy Ibrahim Bani Hani (Irbid, 1st District), head of the House Health and Environment Committee, said that “it is imperative to give environmental inspectors the power to refer violators to court”.

MP Faisal Aawar (Zarqa, 1st District), said “it is crucial to give law enforcement power to environment inspectors in order to protect the environment and react quickly to violations”.

Meanwhile, Deputy Saleh Armouti (Amman, 3rd District) called for increasing penalties for environmental violations, going so far as to suggest “execution” for violators.

“We are discussing crimes that might cause epidemics. We are discussing hazardous waste and we need to stiffen the penalties,” MP Khaled Bakkar (Irbid, 4th District) said at the session.

For his part, Minister of Justice Awad Mashagbeh said environmental crimes might have a large-scale affect on people “and, therefore, we need to be strict when addressing this matter”.

The draft law increases penalties and fines for environmental violations, while also requiring an environmental permit to be granted to all productive and industrial enterprises that have an environmental impact, before the projects can be launched.

The bill will now be referred to the Senate for deliberations and endorsement, after which the draft law is sent to the King for ratification.