Human rights in Jordan
|Rights by claimant|
|Other groups of rights|
Human rights in Jordan are a subject of concern inside and outside of the country.
- 1 Overview
- 2 Democracy
- 3 Freedom of speech, the press, and expression
- 4 Freedom of religion
- 5 Human trafficking and migrant workers
- 6 Unrestrained violence, torture, and honor killings
- 7 Death penalty
- 8 Arrest, detention, fair and speedy trials, and prison conditions
- 9 Women's rights
- 10 Child labor and forced labor
- 11 Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights
- 12 Palestinian rights and accusations of apartheid
- 13 National human rights institution
- 14 Treaties
- 15 See also
- 16 References
- 17 External links
The 2011 Jordanian protests began in the wake of unrest in Tunisia and Egypt, when starting in January several thousand Jordanians staged weekly demonstrations and marches in Amman and other cities throughout Jordan to protest government corruption, rising prices, rampant poverty, and high unemployment. In response, king Abdullah replaced his prime minister and formed a National Dialogue Commission with a reform mandate. The King told the new prime minister to "take quick, concrete and practical steps to launch a genuine political reform process", "to strengthen democracy," and provide Jordanians with the "dignified life they deserve." The King called for an "immediate revision" of laws governing politics and public freedoms. Initial reports say that this effort has started well, but much work remains to be done.
The 2010 Arab Democracy Index from the Arab Reform Initiative ranked Jordan first in the state of democratic reforms out of fifteen Arab countries.
Civil liberties and political rights scored 5 and 6 respectively in Freedom House' Freedom in the World 2011 report, where 1 is most free and 7 is least free. This earned Jordan "Not Free" status. Jordan ranked ahead of 6, behind 4, and the same as 8 countries in the Middle East and North Africa region.
- limitations on the right of citizens to change their government peacefully;
- a newly drafted electoral law that perpetuates significant under representation of urban areas and citizens of Palestinian origin in leadership positions;
- cases of arbitrary deprivation of life, torture, poor prison conditions, impunity, arbitrary arrest and denial of due process through administrative detention, and prolonged detention;
- breaches of fair trial standards and external interference in judicial decisions;
- infringements on privacy rights;
- limited freedoms of speech and press, and government interference in the media and threats of fines and detention that encourage self-censorship;
- restricted freedoms of assembly and association;
- legal and societal discrimination and harassment of women remain a concern, although there have been significant improvements in recent years;
- legal and societal discrimination and harassment of religious minorities and converts from Islam are a concern, although Jordan is widely acknowledged as being a strong supporter of religious freedoms;
- legal and societal discrimination and harassment of members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community;
- loss of Jordanian nationality by some citizens of Palestinian origin;
- restricted labor rights; and
- abuse of foreign domestic workers.
|Non-discrimination & access to justice||2.4||2.7|
|Autonomy, security & freedom of person||2.4||2.7|
|Economic rights & equal opportunity||2.8||2.9|
|Political rights & civic voice||2.8||2.9|
|Social & cultural rights||2.5||2.9|
In 2009 of 18 Middle East and North Africa (MENA) countries surveyed, Jordan ranked in the upper third for each category (between 4th and 7th).
Limited economic opportunity is one of the main reasons for poor scores in many of the above categories. It is not just discrimination that accounts for high rates of unemployment, but also genuine economic difficulties and shortages of jobs. "The shrinking of the public sector disproportionately affects women, the location of jobs matters more for women than for men, and discrimination in the private sector remains".
In 2005 Freedom House criticized Jordan for its poor women’s rights record, but also acknowledged that the “status of women in Jordan is currently undergoing a historic transition, with women achieving a number of positive gains and new rights.”
Educated women were granted suffrage in 1955, but it was not until 1974 that all women received the right to vote and run as candidates in parliamentary elections. In 1993, the first female candidate was elected to the lower house of parliament and the first woman was appointed to the upper house. Women have assumed high-level governmental positions in greater numbers, gaining appointments as ministers and lawmakers with increasing frequency. An average of three ministerial portfolios has been assigned to women in each cabinet since 2004, and a gender-based quota system, first introduced for the lower house of parliament in 2003, was expanded to municipal councils in 2007.
From 2004 until the end of 2009, the women's movement made a number of important gains, including the publication of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in the official gazette, which gave it the force of law. Additionally, the government has taken steps to address the problem of domestic abuse, including the February 2007 opening of the country's first major women's shelter, the Family Reconciliation House, and the March 2008 promulgation of the Family Protection Law, designed to regulate the handling of domestic abuse cases by medical workers and law enforcement bodies.
Today, Jordanian women largely enjoy legal equality in freedom of movement, health care, education, political participation, and employment. And, while the attitudes of police officers, judges, and prosecutors regarding the treatment of victims of domestic violence and honor crimes have undergone a positive shift in recent years, gender-based violence remains a serious concern. Women may be severely beaten, or even murdered, if they disobey their male family members or commit an act deemed "dishonorable," such as socializing with an unrelated man.
There remains gender-based discrimination in family laws, in the provision of pensions and social security benefits, and on the societal level due to deeply entrenched patriarchal norms that restrict female employment and property ownership. And women do not have the same status as men with respect to nationality. A Jordanian man may marry a foreigner and pass on his nationality to his children; women cannot. Nor can women pass on their nationality to their husbands.
Women are no longer required to seek permission from their male guardians or husbands before obtaining or renewing their passports, but fathers may still prevent their children from traveling regardless of the mother's wishes. Muslim women are prohibited from marrying men of other religions unless the spouse agrees to convert to Islam, while Muslim men are permitted to wed Christian and Jewish wives.
Child labor and forced labor
In 2013, the U.S. Department of Labor's Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor reported that Jordan has "made a moderate advancement in efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor" but that a percentage as low as 0.8% of children aged 5 to 14 continue to engage in child labor, mostly in the agricultural sector and in domestic service. In December 2014, the Department issued a List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor where Jordan figures among 74 other countries that resort to such labor practices. Jordan was reported to make use of forced labor in the garment industry.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights
Jordan is one of the few countries in the Middle East where homosexuality is legal, provided that it occurs in private, does not involve prostitution, and only involves consenting adults. However, sexual orientation and gender identity issues remain taboo within the traditional culture and the government does not recognize same-sex civil unions or marriages.
Palestinian rights and accusations of apartheid
Palestinian scholars and political activists including Samer Libdeh and Mudar Zahran have described the political system of Jordan as anti-Palestinian apartheid. According to Libdeh, the royal policy of "ethnic cohesion" amounts to discrimination against the Palestinians, who comprise the majority of Jordanian subjects. In a more scholarly article, Zahran details what he calls the "apartheid policies" by which positions in the ranks and, especially, in the officer corps of the army and most jobs in the civil service are filled by Bedouin despite the fact that Palestinians are in the majority, and census returns and election districts are rigged so that Palestinians are underrepresented in Parliament.
Palestinians are underrepresented in parliament and senior positions in the government and the military, as well as in admission to public universities. They have limited access to university scholarships. Many observers believe the electoral system is intended to reduce the representation of areas heavily populated by citizens of Palestinian origin.
There were three groups of Palestinians residing in Jordan, many of whom face some discrimination. Those who migrated to the country and the Jordan-controlled West Bank after the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, received full citizenship, as did those who migrated to the country after the 1967 war and hold no residency entitlement in the West Bank. Those still residing in the West Bank after 1967 were not eligible to claim full citizenship. These individuals have access to some government services, but pay non-citizen rates at hospitals, educational institutions, and training centers. Refugees who fled Gaza after 1967 are not entitled to citizenship. These persons have no access to government services and are almost completely dependent on the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). The government reports that there were approximately 165,000 Palestinian refugees, mostly of Gazan origin, who do not qualify for citizenship.
A Human Rights Watch report claims that more than 2,700 Jordanians of Palestinian origin have had their citizenship revoked starting in 2004. The government maintains this policy is in line with its efforts to implement its disengagement from its former claims to the West Bank.
National human rights institution
Jordan was one of the first countries in the Middle east to establish a national human rights institution (NHRI). The National Centre for Human Rights (NCHR) in 2006 secured 'A-status' accreditation from the peer review process of the International Coordinating Committee of NHRIs, giving it enhanced access to the United Nations human rights bodies. That status was subjected to special review twice by the ICC in 2007, and reaffirmed; it was again accorded A status under the ordinary review procedure in 2010. In the ICC annual meeting in March 2012, the Jordanian institution was elected as chair of the network of 99 institutions. The Commissioner General of the NCHR is Dr Mousa Burayzat.
Jordan is a party to many human rights agreements, including:
- International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
- International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
- International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination
- Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women
- Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery, the Slave Trade, and Institutions and Practices Similar to Slavery
- Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
- Convention on the Rights of the Child
- Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict
- Convention concerning the Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour
- Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention
- Convention concerning Forced or Compulsory Labour
- Equal Remuneration Convention
- Abolition of Forced Labour Convention
- Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention
- Employment Policy Convention
- Convention against Discrimination in Education
Jordan was the only country in the Middle East and North Africa that is a member of the International Criminal Court (ICC), which prosecutes those who commit crimes against humanity, war crimes, aggression, and genocide, until Tunisia became a member in 2011. Palestine became a member of ICCC in 2015.
- "World Factbook: Jordan", U.S. Central Intelligence Agency
- Derhally, Massoud A. "Jordan's King Abdullah Replaces Prime Minister". Bloomberg.com. Retrieved 1 February 2011.
- "Jordan's king fires Cabinet amid protests". Apnews.myway.com. Retrieved 1 February 2011.
- "Jordan: A Measure of Reform", Christoph Wilcke, Jordan Times, 8 March 2011
- "Report Card on Democratic Reforms in Arab World Issued". Voice of America (VOANews.com). 29 March 2010. Retrieved 2010-06-15.
- "Freedon in the World: Country Report for Jordan". Freedom House. 13 January 2011. Retrieved 20 May 2011.
- "Human Rights Watch: Jordan", Human Rights Watch, accessed 23 May 2011
- "Annual Report 2011: Jordan", Amnesty International
- "Section 2(a) Freedom of Speech and Press, 2010 Human Rights Report: Jordan", Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, U.S. Department of State, 8 April 2011
- "Corruption Perceptions Index 2010 Results", Transparency International
- "Signatories to the United Nations Convention against Corruption", United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, 1 May 2011
- "Security & Political Stability". Jordaninvestment.com. Retrieved 2010-06-15.
- "Center for Defending the Freedom of Journalists", website
- "Freedom of the Press 2011-Regional Tables" (PDF). Freedom House. 2 May 2011. Retrieved 20 May 2011.
- Press Freedom Index 2010, Reporters Without Borders, 20 October 2010
- "Jordan's news websites running for legal cover", Oula Farawati, Menassat, 11 March 2009
- "First prison sentences announced for reprinting Mohammed cartoons", Reporters Without Borders, 31 May 2006, accessed 13 September 2012
- "ONI Country Profile: Jordan", OpenNet Initiative, 6 August 2009
- "Internet Blocking Begins In Jordan". 2013-06-02. Retrieved 2013-06-02.
- "Country report for Jordan", International Religious Freedom Report 2010, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, U.S. Department of State, 17 November 2010
- Taylor Luck (28 October 2009). "Jordan's religious freedom record lauded". The Jordan Times. Retrieved 10 November 2010.
- "Born Again Problems". Jordan Business. Retrieved 2010-06-15.
- "Jordan Country Narrative", Trafficking in Persons Report 2010, Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, U.S. Department of State
- "Jordan 'not protecting' rights of women migrant workers", Agence France Presse (AFP) in the Daily Star, 7 November 2008
- "Jordan to include migrant workers in its labor laws", GMA News Online, 28 October 2008
- "Migrants' rights – domestic workers", on page 2 of Annual Report: Jordan 2010, Amnesty International, 28 May 2010
- "Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, Div. A of Pub. L. No. 106-386, § 108, as amended", Trafficking in Persons Report 2010, Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, U.S. Department of State
- Amnesty International, 24 July 2006, "Systematic Torture of Political Suspects Entrenched in Jordan", Retrieved 12 August 2006
- Amnesty International, 23 July 2006, Jordan: "Your confessions are ready for you to sign": Detention and torture of political suspects
- "Committee Against Torture Concludes Forty-fourth Session", United Nations, 14 May 2010
- Amnesty International: Human Rights Concerns for Jordan Retrieved 10 August 2006
- "'Honour killings' law blocked". BBC News. 8 September 2003. Retrieved 12 August 2006.
- "Jordan hangs 11 after lifting execution ban". Al Jazeera. 21 December 2014. Retrieved 21 December 2014.
- Death Sentences and Executions in 2010, Amnesty International, 2011, pp. 26 and 31
- "Jordan: End Administrative Detention", Human Rights Watch, 26 May 2009
- "Jordan Country Ratings", Women's Rights in the Middle East and North Africa 2010, Rana Husseini, Freedom House
- "Jordan: Prison Reform Promises Broken", Human Rights Watch, 21 August 2009
- "Employment and Unemployment in Jordan: The Importance of the Gender System", Rebecca Miles, Florida State University, Tallahassee, USA, World Development, Vol.30, No.3 (2002), pp.413–427
- "Jordan Country Report", Women's Rights in the Middle East and North Africa 2005, Reem M. Abu Hassan and Widad Adas, Freedom House, 2005
- Women in Islam: The Western Experience, Anne Sofie Roald, Routledge, London, April 2001, 360 pp., ISBN 978-0-415-24896-9
- Jordan, 2013 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor
- Sexuality and Eroticism Among Males in Moslem Societies, Arno Schmitt and Jehoeda Sofer (eds), Harrington Park Press, Binghamton, 1992, ISBN 0-918393-91-4, pp.137–138.
- "Gay and Muslim in Jordan". Star Observer. 11 February 2009. Retrieved 20 January 2011.
- "2010 Human Rights Report: Jordan", 2010 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, U.S. State Department, 8 April 2011
- Samer Libdeh, The Hashemite Kingdom of Apartheid?, 26 April 2010 http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Op-EdContributors/Article.aspx?id=173919
- Jordan Is Palestinian, Mudar Zahran, Middle East Quarterly, Winter 2012, pp. 3–12 http://www.meforum.org/3121/jordan-is-palestinian
- "Jordan: Stop Withdrawing Nationality from Palestinian-Origin Citizens", press release, Human Rights Watch, 1 February 2010
- Stateless Again: Palestinian-Origin Jordanians Deprived of their Nationality, Human Rights Watch, 1 February 2010, 65 pp., ISBN 1-56432-576-8
- Chart of accreditation status of NHRIs
- ICC press release on Jordanian chair, March 2012
- Ratification of International Human Rights Treaties – Jordan, Human Rights Library, University of Minnesota, accessed 10 August 2006
- "The Status of Democracy and Human rights in the Middle East: Does regime type make a difference?", B. Todd Spinks, Emile Sahliyeh, and Brian Calfano, Democratization, 1743-890X, Volume 15, Issue 2 (2008), pp. 321–341, Accessed 26 January 2009.
- Tunisia joins international war crimes court, The National
- [Palestine formally joins International Criminal Court http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/04/palestine-formally-joins-international-criminal-court-150401073619618.html], Al Jazeera
- Review of Jordan by the United Nations Human Rights Council's Universal Periodic Review, 11 February 2009
- Human Rights Watch: Jordan
- Censorship in Jordan, International Freedom of Expression Exchange