Country Reports on Human Rights Practices -
Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human
Rights, and Labor
March 31, 2003
The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is a
constitutional monarchy ruled by King Abdullah II bin Hussein since the
death of his father, King Hussein bin Talal. The Constitution
concentrates a high degree of executive and legislative authority in the
King, who determines domestic and foreign policy. In the King's absence,
a regent, whose authority is outlined in the Constitution, assumes many
of the King's responsibilities. The Prime Minister and other members of
the Cabinet are appointed by the King and manage the daily affairs of
the Government. The Parliament consists of the 40-member Senate,
appointed by the King, and a lower house, the Chamber of Deputies which
is elected every 4 years. The lower house exerts influence only
intermittently on domestic and foreign policy issues. The 1997
parliamentary elections were marred by reports of registration
irregularities, fraud, and restrictions on the press and on campaign
materials. The King dissolved Parliament in June 2001 and subsequently
postponed elections until spring 2003. A new election law enacted by the
Government in July 2001 increased the size of the lower house from 80
seats to 104. According to the Constitution, the judiciary is
independent, and the Government took steps in 2001 to strengthen the
judiciary's administrative independence. However, in practice, it
remained susceptible to political pressure and interference by the
General police functions were the responsibility of the Public
Security Directorate (PSD). The PSD, the General Intelligence
Directorate (GID), and the military shared responsibility for
maintaining internal security, and had authority to monitor the
activities of persons believed to be security threats. Elements of the
security forces continued to commit human rights abuses.
Foreign assistance, remittances from citizens working abroad, exports
of minerals, and, increasingly, revenues from export of manufactured
goods and tourism were the mainstays of the country's economy. The
Government made substantial progress in deregulation, privatizing state
owned companies and opening up to foreign trade and investment. As the
country makes a transition to a market driven economic system, the main
economic problems it faced were high unemployment and persistent
poverty, especially in rural areas. Other drags on economic growth
included the political uncertainty in the region, limited water
resources, and the lack of a viable market for the country's products in
its traditional trading partners in the region, particularly Iraq.
Economic growth, which has improved in recent years after stagnating in
the mid-1990s, is only partially addressing these problems.
The Government generally respected the human rights of its citizens
in some areas; however, there were significant problems in other areas.
There were significant restrictions on citizens' right to change their
government. Citizens may participate in the political system through
their elected representatives in Parliament; however, the King has
discretionary authority to appoint and dismiss the Prime Minister,
Cabinet, and upper house of Parliament, to dissolve Parliament, and to
establish public policy. Other human rights problems included police
abuse and mistreatment of detainees, allegations of torture, arbitrary
arrest and detention, lack of transparent investigations and
accountability within the security services, prolonged detention without
charge, denial of due process of law stemming from the expanded
authority of the State Security Court and interference in the judicial
process, infringements on citizens' privacy rights, harassment of
members of opposition political parties, and significant restrictions on
freedom of speech, press, assembly, and association.
A law enacted by the Government in October 2001 gave the Government
broad powers to restrict and prosecute journalists and to close
publications. This royal decree, or temporary law, in the absence of
Parliament effectively superseded the 1999 amendments to the Press and
Publications Law, which had reduced somewhat the restrictions in
previous laws regarding the ability of journalists and publications to
function and report freely. Significant restrictions continued
throughout the year. The Government limited academic freedom. In July,
several professors were dismissed from local faculties, apparently for
political reasons. The Government imposes some limits on freedom of
religion, and there was official and societal discrimination against
adherents of unrecognized religions. The evangelical Christian community
reported incidents of governmental harassment during the year. One
foreign Protestant pastor and his family reportedly left the country
after being harassed by the Government. There were some restrictions on
freedom of movement. Violence against women, restrictions on women's
rights, and societal discrimination against women were problems.
Although there was some evidence that societal attitudes toward "honor"
crimes was improving, the law still allowed for reduced punishments for
violent honor crimes against women for alleged immoral acts. Child abuse
remained a problem, and discrimination against Palestinians persisted.
Abuse of foreign domestics was a problem, and child labor occurred on a
small scale. Jordan was invited by the Community of Democracies' (CD)
Convening Group to attend the November 2002 second CD Ministerial
Meeting in Seoul, Republic of Korea, as a participant.
RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom
a. Arbitrary or Unlawful Deprivation of Life
There were no reports of the arbitrary or unlawful deprivation of
life committed by the Government or its agents during the year.
The security services promoted a climate of impunity by continuing to
be reluctant to conduct transparent investigations into allegations of
wrongful deaths that occurred during police detention in previous years.
However, in some instances, the authorities were more forthcoming.
In January, a youth from Ma'an died in a hospital while in police
custody. The Government reported that the boy was arrested for violating
the privacy of neighbors, and suffered from fatal injuries after falling
from a roof during flight from the police. Local residents said the
Government was not truthful about the circumstances surrounding the
boy's death. This death lead to rioting, the death of a police officer,
and the injury of six police officers and eight rioters.
In April, a 10-year old boy was killed during an anti-Israeli
demonstration in the Baqaa refugee camp. Family members claimed he was
struck by a tear gas canister fired by anti-riot police. The Government
formed a special committee to investigate the incident and concluded
that there was no wrongdoing on the part of the Government because the
boy was struck in the head by an object not fired by police.
In November, a challenge to government authority by an armed group in
Ma'an led to the deaths of five persons, including two police officers
and three militants.
In August 2001, unknown assailants shot and killed an Israeli
businessman working in Amman. Two extremist organizations, the Islamic
Movement of Jordan ("The Group of Ahmed Al Daqamseh") and the previously
unknown "Nobles of Jordan", claimed responsibility for the killing. The
Government stated that it had reason to believe the killing was criminal
and not political in nature. At the end of the year, the Government had
made no arrests in the case.
In September 2001 the police provided diplomatic representatives with
credible information that security forces were not responsible for the
death of one person and injury of six others during an October 2000
protest in the Baqaa refugee camp. Protesters continued to maintain that
police caused the death and injuries.
According to the Government, several members of the security service
were remanded for trial in the January 2000 beating death of Mar'i
Khalil Al-Jahran in a South Shuna police station. There were no
developments in this matter during the year.
On February 28, terrorists unsuccessfully attempted to assassinate a
senior government official and his family with a car bomb. Two
bystanders were killed by the blast. At the end of the year, the
Government's investigation of the incident continued.
In October, USAID official Lawrence Foley was shot and killed in
front of his home. In December, the Government arrested two suspects,
who confessed to the act as well as being members of the terrorist
organization Al Qa'ida. The trial date is set for 2003.
Women continued to be victims of "honor killings" (see Section 5).
There were no reports of politically motivated disappearances.
c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or
The law provides prisoners with the right to humane treatment and
provides prisoners the right to an attorney. However, the police and
security forces sometimes abused detainees physically and verbally
during detention and interrogation, and allegedly also used torture.
Allegations of torture were difficult to verify because the police and
security officials frequently denied detainees timely access to lawyers,
despite legal provisions requiring such access. The most frequently
alleged methods of torture included sleep deprivation, beatings on the
soles of the feet, prolonged suspension with ropes in contorted
positions, and extended solitary confinement. Defendants in high-profile
cases before the State Security Court claimed to have been subjected to
physical and psychological abuse while in detention. Government
officials denied allegations of torture and abuse.
In October, the Court of Cassation considered convicted terrorist
Raed Hijazi's appeal and remanded the case to the Security Court with an
order to reconsider the death sentence. Hijazi's sentence stood. In
January, the State Security Court rejected accused Hijazi's defense that
his confession was coerced, found Hijazi guilty, and sentenced him to
death. He had been tried for crimes against the national security. In
2000, Syria had apprehended Hijazi, accused of a terrorist plot
targeting American and Israeli tourists during the millennium
celebrations, and rendered him to stand trial. According to media
accounts of the trial, doctors for both the defense and the prosecution
testified that Hijazi's body showed signs of having been beaten, but
witnesses, including Hijazi, made contradictory and inconclusive claims
regarding whether the alleged abuse occurred while he was in Jordanian
or Syrian custody.
A number of cases of beatings and other abuse while in police custody
were reported to human rights activists during the year. Many of these
reported incidents occurred during April, when there were hundreds of
anti-Israeli demonstrations throughout the country. In April, a local
newspaper reporter covering anti-Israeli demonstrations in Sweileh
claimed that he was detained, threatened and 'manhandled' by government
security forces (see Section 2.c.). Human rights activists believed that
there were many incidents that were not documented.
Police on several occasions used force to disperse demonstrations
during the year (see Section 2.b.).
There were no developments in the investigation of the November and
December 2000 shooting attacks against Israeli diplomats.
Most prisons met international standards. That said, prisons and
local police detention facilities were spartan, and on the whole were
severely overcrowded and understaffed. Human rights groups and prisoners
complained of poor food and water quality, inadequate medical
facilities, and poor sanitation in certain facilities. In July 2001 the
Government passed a temporary law that restricted the types of physical
force that prison officials may use to subdue prisoners. In 2000 the
Government opened a new prison facility in an attempt to alleviate the
problem of overcrowding.
The Government held some persons who are detained on national
security grounds in separate detention facilities maintained by the GID.
The Government held other security detainees and prisoners in regular
prisons. Conditions in GID detention facilities were significantly
better than general police detention facilities. While security
prisoners often were separated from common criminals, conditions for
such prisoners did not differ significantly.
Local human rights monitors were allowed to visit prisons, but
complained that the authorities required them to undertake a lengthy and
difficult procedure to obtain permission for such visits. The U.N. High
Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) had access to prisoners. With some
exceptions, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) was
permitted unrestricted access to prisoners and prison facilities,
including GID facilities.
d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile
The Constitution states that "personal freedom shall be guaranteed"
and that no person may be detained or imprisoned "except in accordance
with the provisions of the law." Under the Constitution, citizens are
subject to arrest, trial, and punishment for the defamation of heads of
state, dissemination of "false or exaggerated information outside the
country that attacks state dignity," or defamation of public officials.
Criminal laws generally required warrants; however, in most cases
suspects may be detained for up to 48 hours in the absence of a warrant.
Police obtained many warrants after making arrests.
The Criminal Code requires that police notify legal authorities
within 48 hours of an arrest and that legal authorities file formal
charges within 10 days of an arrest; however, the courts routinely
granted requests from prosecutors for 15-day extensions, also provided
by law. This practice generally extended pretrial detention for
protracted periods of time. The security forces arbitrarily arrested and
detained citizens. In cases involving state security, the authorities
frequently held defendants in lengthy pretrial detention, did not
provide defendants with the written charges against them, and did not
allow defendants to meet with their lawyers until shortly before trial.
Defendants before the State Security Court usually met with their
attorneys only 1 or 2 days before their trial. In April 2001 the
Parliament passed amendments to the Criminal Code that eliminated
pretrial detentions for certain categories of misdemeanors.
The Government detained persons, including journalists (see Section
2. a.) and Islamists for varying amounts of time for what appeared to be
political reasons. Human rights sources reported that more than 1,000
persons were detained for security reasons and subsequently released
within a short period of time throughout the year. Human rights groups
reported that there were a smaller number of long-term political
Local governors had the authority to invoke the Preventing Crimes
Law, which allowed them to place citizens under house arrest for up to
one year without formally charging them (see Section 2.d.). House arrest
may involve requiring persons to report daily to a local police station
and the imposition of a curfew. Persons who violate the terms of their
house arrest may be imprisoned for up to 14 days.
The Government used the threat of detention to intimidate journalists
into practicing self-censorship. In October 2001, the Government adopted
a series of amendments to Penal Code provisions dealing with the press.
Subsequent to the adoption of these amendments, there were incidents of
detainment and intimidation of journalists (see Section 2.a.).
The Constitution prohibits the expulsion of any citizen, and the
Government did not routinely use forced exile; however, in June the
Government attempted to prevent the return of Ibrahim Ghosheh, one of
four leaders of the terrorist organization HAMAS allegedly expelled in
1999. In June 2001, Ghosheh arrived unexpectedly from Qatar, and
immigration authorities at Queen Alia International Airport (QAIA)
attempted to block his admission to the country. Ghosheh was detained at
the airport until June 30, when the Government admitted him to the
country in return for his pledge to cease his HAMAS activities. The
three other expelled HAMAS leaders remained outside the country at
year's end (see Sections 1.e. and 2.d.).
e. Denial of Fair Public Trial
The Constitution provides for the independence of the judiciary, and
the Government passed legislation in 2001 to strengthen such
independence; however, the judiciary was not independent in practice and
remained subject to pressure and outside interference. A judge's
appointment to, advancement within, and dismissal from the judiciary are
determined by the Higher Judiciary Council, a committee whose members
were appointed by the King. In June 2001 Parliament passed a law
intended to give the Council increased independent jurisdiction over the
judicial branch; previously, the Council had been subject to frequent
interference and pressure from the Ministry of Justice stemming from the
Ministry's oversight of the council. The new law promoted the
independence of the judicial system by limiting the Ministry of
Justice's administrative control over judges. There had been numerous
allegations in previous years that judges were "reassigned" temporarily
to another court or judicial district to remove them from a particular
proceeding. The Government claimed that the Higher Judiciary Council's
new independence made such tampering much more difficult. Despite
constitutional prohibitions against such actions, judges complained of
telephone surveillance by the Government (see Section 1.f.).
The judicial system consists of several types of courts. Most
criminal cases are tried in civilian courts, which include the appeals
courts, the Court of Cassation, and the Supreme Court. Cases involving
sedition, armed insurrection, financial crimes, drug trafficking, and
offenses against the royal family are tried in the State Security Court.
Shari'a (Islamic law) courts have jurisdiction over marriage and
divorce among Muslims. Christian courts have jurisdiction over marriage
and divorce cases among Christians, but apply Shari'a law in inheritance
cases (see Section 5).
Most civilian court trials were open. Defendants are entitled to
legal counsel, may challenge witnesses, and have the right to appeal.
Defendants facing the death penalty or life imprisonment must be
represented by legal counsel. Public defenders were provided if the
defendant is unable to hire legal counsel. According to government legal
officials, civil, criminal, and commercial courts accord equal weight to
the testimony of men and women. However, in Shar'ia court, the testimony
of two women is equal to that of a man's in most circumstances (see
The State Security Court consisted of a panel of three judges, two
military officers and one civilian. Sessions frequently were closed to
the public. Defendants tried in the State Security Court often were held
in pretrial detention without access to lawyers, although they were
permitted to be visited by representatives of the ICRC. In the State
Security Court, judges have inquired into allegations that defendants
were tortured and have allowed the testimony of physicians regarding
such allegations (see Section 1.c.). The Court of Cassation ruled that
the State Security Court may not issue a death sentence on the basis of
a confession obtained as a result of torture. Defendants in the State
Security Court have the right to appeal their sentences to the Court of
Cassation, which is authorized to review issues of both fact and law.
Appeals are automatic for cases involving the death penalty.
In September 2001, the Government passed a temporary law that removed
the right of appeal for defendants convicted of misdemeanors in the
State Security Court. According to reports, several defendants were
convicted in the State Security Court without the right to appeal, the
most notable being Toujan Faisal (see Section 2.a.). King Abdullah later
In the past, defense attorneys have challenged the appointment of
military judges to the State Security Court to try civilian cases as
contrary to the concept of an independent judiciary. According to human
rights activists, military judges appeared to have received adequate
training in civil law and procedure.
In the past, the press routinely carried details of cases tried
before the State Security Court, despite 1998 provisions in the Press
and Publication Law that prohibited press coverage of any case that was
under investigation, unless expressly permitted by the authorities. The
1999 amendments to the Press and Publications Law permitted journalists
to cover court proceedings "unless the court rules otherwise." There was
press coverage of trials in the State Security Court during the year.
The Court of Cassation vacated the State Security Court's verdict of
July 2001, in which the State Security Court had retried and sentenced
nine men to life imprisonment for their alleged involvement in
politically motivated bombings in 1998. The July 2001 retrial came as a
result of credible reports that the initial trial in 1998 was flawed,
and that the defendant's confessions were made under duress and torture.
Following the ruling of the Court of Cassation vacating the State
Security Court verdict, there were no further developments in the case.
In June 2001 the Government permitted one of the four HAMAS leaders
expelled in 1999 to reenter the country (see Sections 1.d. and 2.d.);
there were credible reports of executive branch influence with respect
to the original verdict of expulsion.
There were no reports of political prisoners; however, the Government
detained persons for varying periods of time for political reasons (see
f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or
The Constitution requires that security forces obtain a warrant from
the Prosecutor General or a judge before conducting searches or
otherwise interfering with these rights, and the security services
generally respected these restrictions; however, in security cases, at
times in violation of the law, the authorities obtained warrants
retroactively or obtain pre-approved warrants. Security officers
monitored telephone conversations and Internet communication, read
private correspondence, and engaged in surveillance of persons
considered to pose a threat to the Government or national security. The
law permits these practices if the Government obtains a court order.
Judges complained of unlawful telephone surveillance (see Section 1.e.).
Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:
a. Freedom of Speech and Press
The Constitution provides for freedom of speech and of the press;
however, the Government imposed a number of restrictions on these
rights, and such restrictions increased during the year. In October
2001, the Government broadened its authority to prosecute journalists
and close publications. The Government detained and restricted
journalists based on the provisions of the October 2001 laws.
The 1998 Press and Publications Law and the 1999 revisions to the
law, combined with the 1998 Press Association Law, imposed stringent
restrictions on the operation of newspapers. The Government also
intimidated journalists to encourage self-censorship. Private citizens
may be prosecuted for slandering the royal family, the Government, or
foreign leaders, and for "sowing sedition." Citizens generally did not
hesitate to criticize the Government openly, but were more circumspect
in regard to the King and the royal family. The Press and Publications
Law and the law governing the Jordan Press Association (JPA) require
membership in the JPA for persons to be considered "legal" journalists
or editors, thus potentially excluding dozens of practicing journalists
from the profession. The Government during the year selectively enforced
this provision. The JPA used its authority to enforce bans on
journalists receiving funding from foreign sources or having Israeli
contacts. In 1999 then-Prime Minister Abdul Raouf Rawabdeh issued an
order directing government offices to cooperate only with JPA members.
The 1998 Press and Publications Law granted the Government wide
discretionary powers to issue fines, withdraw licenses, and order
shutdowns, which enabled it to control the editorial content of
newspapers. However, the 1999 amendments to the Press and Publications
Law limited to some extent the Government's discretion to issue fines,
transferred the power to withdraw licenses to the judiciary, limited
significantly the Government's power to order shutdowns, and allowed
journalists to cover court proceedings unless the court ruled otherwise.
The 1998 Press and Publications Law imposed strict limits on
publications, which gave the Government very broad leeway to sanction
publications. According to the 1999 amendments, all publications must be
licensed by the Government. The law also requires that the editor in
chief of a newspaper be a citizen who permanently resides in the country
and to have been a member of the JPA for at least 4 years. This last
provision reflected a reduction in the requirements of previous
legislation but placed the burden of regulation on the JPA.
The Penal Code authorizes the State to take action against any person
who incites violence, defames heads of state, disseminates "false or
exaggerated information outside the country that attacks state dignity,"
or defames a public official.
In October 2001, the Government adopted a series of amendments to
Penal Code provisions dealing with the press. The amendments reinforced
existing Penal Code restrictions on free speech and allow for the
prosecution of any person found to have written, published, or aired any
statements "harmful to national unity; instigating criminal actions;
sowing the seeds of hatred and malice; inciting divisions among members
of society; instigating acts of religious and racial fanaticism;
insulting the dignity of individuals, their reputation or personal
freedoms; committing acts of corruption or publishing false information
or rumors; inciting people to organize strikes or sit-ins, or to hold
meetings in a manner that violates the law; or committing any act
considered harmful to the state's reputation and dignity." The
amendments gave the State Security Court the authority to temporarily or
permanently close any publication or media outlet that published or
aired any such statements. The Government strengthened provisions
regarding defamation of the King or Royal Family, providing as
punishment imprisonment of three years. In addition all violators of the
new provisions automatically were subject to trial before the State
Security Court rather than the special press and copyright court.
Prior to the October 2001 amendments, persons accused of violating
the Press and Publications Law were tried in a special court for press
and copyright cases. Journalists also may be prosecuted for criminal and
security violations in connection with their work. Although a
substantial number of cases were dismissed before trial, many other
cases lingered in the courts for years. The Government routinely used
detention and prosecution or the threat of prosecution to intimidate
journalists and thereby successfully encouraged self-censorship (see
In March former parliamentarian Toujan Faisal was arrested and
charged with acts of sedition via libel and incitement of violence
against the Government. On a foreign-based Internet site and on al-Jazeera,
Faisal criticized the Prime Minister and the judicial system for
corruption. In May the State Security Court and sentenced Faisal to one
and a half years in prison. Since Faisal was convicted of misdemeanors,
she had no right to appeal (see section 1.e.). Many contended that
Faisal's arrest and sentence were the result of a political vendetta. In
May the King pardoned Faisal and she was released in late June.
On March 18, editor Hashem Khalidi and publisher Tajeddin Hroub of
the weekly Al-Bilad were detained on the charge of publishing "false
news" following publication of an article in their newspaper.
In March a foreign NGO reported that a publication of the opposition
weekly Al Majd was censored by the Government. In September Al-Majd
claimed that their publication was delayed for one day because "security
forces" stopped the printing of the newspaper until articles considered
"offensive" were removed. In January the editor of the newspaper, Fahd
al-Rimawi had been detained for 2 days and charged with publishing false
In April Al-Jazeera correspondent Mahmoud Al Housa was detained for 3
days, apparently under the provisions of the October amendments. In the
same month a local newspaper reporter covering demonstrations in Sweileh
claimed that he was detained, threatened and "manhandled" by government
security forces (see section 1.c.). In August he claimed that government
authorities seized his passport and threatened him with prosecution.
In August the Government closed indefinitely the local office of Al
Jazeera and suspended the media credentials of Al Jazeera's local
correspondents in response to their airing of a talk show segment which
the Government considered inflammatory and anti-Government.
In August journalist Mamoun Al Roussan, editor-in-chief of the weekly
Al Jazeera was arrested and detained for publishing an article
criticizing Qatari officials. Both Al Roussan and his publisher, Sakher
Abu Anzeh were detained for a week.
In November Yasser Abu Hilalah, a columnist for the Al Rai newspaper
and former correspondent for Al Jazeera, and Samir Abu Hilalah, a
journalist with Al Arab Al Youm, were released after being held for 24
hours. Both were detained after sending information to their respective
news sources on the unrest between security forces and citizens in Ma'an.
In January 2001, the Government arrested seven members of the
Anti-Normalization Committee, a group that opposes the country's
relations with Israel, on charges of belonging to an illegal group (see
Section 2.b.). The State Security Court also charged two of the seven
with possession of explosives and with terrorist activities. The arrests
followed the publication of the Committee's blacklist, which included
the names of companies and persons with ties to Israel or Israeli
businesses. All seven detainees were released on bail while awaiting
trial. The trials had not yet begun by year's end. The Government also
filed charges under the Press and Publications Law against two
journalists, Ma'moun Rousan and Abdel Naser Hourani, for printing the
blacklist in their publications. At the end of the year, both men were
still involved in judicial proceedings related to the charges.
In May 2001, police in Amman arrested journalists Jamal Alawi, and
Yasser Zaatreh. According to press reports, police forcibly detained the
journalists during anti-Israeli rallies marking the anniversary of the
creation of the State of Israel. That same month, police also reportedly
seized film and cameras from other television journalists. Alawi and
Zaatreh were released without charge after a brief detention. Police
reportedly beat Tareq Ayyoub as he attempted to cover political
demonstrations in Amman (see Section 2.b.).
In June 2001, police in Zarqa briefly detained five journalists who
worked for the Associated Press. The reporters were attempting to film a
memorial service for the suicide bomber involved in the Dolphinarium
Disco bombing in Tel Aviv. Police released all five after a few hours.
In July 2001, Senator Jawad Anani claimed that he was forced to
resign following his publication of an article that was critical of the
Government. The Government denied any involvement in Anani's decision to
In December 2001 the GID reportedly detained two television
journalists associated with al-Jazeera for covering a demonstration by
Islamists in Ma'an. According to the reporters, the GID forced them to
hand over their video footage and physically abused them while they were
in custody. Both journalists were released with 24 hours and no charges
were filed against them.
The Press and Publications Department continued to enforce bans on
the publication of a number of books within the country. Although some
books were banned based on religious objections, anecdotal evidence
suggests that the number banned for political reasons is higher.
There were no developments in the January 2000 arrest of Asim Ogla
Al-Maghayirah, whom authorities accused of affiliation with the banned
political party Al-Tahrir and of distribution of illegal pamphlets.
In February 2000, the High Court of Justice dismissed the appeal of
Nidal Mansour's expulsion from the JPA. In September 2000, the JPA had
voted to expel Mansour for allegedly receiving foreign funding on behalf
of the nongovernmental organization (NGO) that he headed (see Section
4). As a result of the Court's decision, Mansour was removed as editor
of the newspaper that he owns.
The Press and Publications Department continued its April 2000 ban on
a book of poetry by Ziyad Al-Anani; the book contained a poem that
reportedly was offensive to Islam (see Section 2.c.).
Some journalists continued to complain about high taxes on the media
industry and tariffs on paper, which they claimed led them to reduce the
size of their publications. They also criticized the Government for its
policy of advertising predominantly in newspapers in which the
Government owned shares.
The Government did not block the entry of foreign publications during
the year. In January 2000, the Government passed a bill that grants
foreign media operations "absolute freedom of expression" in the
country. The bill reportedly was passed in order to encourage foreign
investment. At the time, some commentators criticized the Government for
passing a bill that offers full autonomy for foreign journalists while
maintaining laws that restrict freedom of expression for local
Radio and television news broadcasts were more restricted than the
print media. The Government was the sole broadcaster of radio and
television programs. It had commercial agreements with the British
Broadcasting Corporation, the London-based Middle East Broadcasting
Center, and Radio Monte Carlo that allow it to simulcast regional
programs using local radio transmitters. Jordan Television (JTV)
reported only the Government's position on controversial matters.
International satellite television and Israeli and Syrian television
broadcasts were available and unrestricted.
The GID actively investigated Internet reports of "crimes against the
King." In March, the Government restored access to two overseas websites
that it had blocked within the country. There were additional reports of
government interference with Internet access.
The Government limited academic freedom. In June, three universities
dismissed a total of eight professors, most of whom taught Shari'a law,
without explanation. Most suspected the Saudi-educated professors were
dismissed because of their political views and/or their background. Four
of the professors have since been reinstated. During the year, sources
in the academic community claimed that there was an intelligence
presence in academic institutions. In 2001 two university presidents
were pressured to resign because of their political views. Some
academics claimed that they received frequent threats of dismissal.
During the year, Jordan University continued its policy established
in March 2000 that granted the president of the University the authority
to appoint half of it's 80-member student council, including the chair.
The amendment was viewed widely as an effort to curb the influence of
campus Islamists. Many students, including non-Islamists, objected to
the University's decision.
b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association
The Government restricts freedom of assembly. Citizens must obtain
permits for public gatherings. In August 2001 the Government adopted a
law that requires the organizers of rallies and demonstrations to
request permission from provincial governors at least 3 days prior to
any event. Under the law, no protest may be held without the governor's
consent and violators face imprisonment from 1 to 6 months and a fine
not to exceed $4,230 (3,000 dinars). The Government adopted the law in
the absence of a sitting Parliament, which the King dissolved in June
2001 (see Section 3).
In mid-March, media reports indicated that tear gas was used in
protests at refugee camps and some protestors were detained; however the
demonstrations remained peaceful overall.
On March 22, there were media reports that the Government used tear
gas to disperse approximately 1,500 protestors in Irbid when they
attempted to march from a local university to the city's center. The
demonstrators had been denied a permit to demonstrate by the Government.
Unconfirmed press reports indicated that some of the demonstrators were
Despite the restrictions, there were numerous anti-Israeli protests
and demonstrations throughout the country, especially in April. On some
occasions in April, police used tear gas, water cannons, and dogs to
disperse protestors in various areas of Amman and throughout the
In May and June, professional associations cancelled demonstrations
in which they planned, among other things, to burn American goods. The
cancellations were reportedly prompted by government pressure.
In June 4 members of the outlawed Liberation Party were sentenced to
1 year in prison. Reportedly, the four were arrested while obtaining
signatures on a memorandum to the Prime Minister that demanded, among
other things, military aid to the Palestinians.
In August Saudi religious extremist Sheikh Salman al Awdah was
detained and deported from the country prior to delivering a scheduled
In March 2001, riot police protecting the Prime Ministry used physical
force to disperse a sit-in by 25 academics protesting the absence of
employment opportunities at local universities. No one was seriously
injured; however, press reports claimed that at least 10 demonstrators
briefly were detained. The Government denied that it detained any of the
In April 2001, organizers canceled a planned march from the Shmeisani
area of Amman to U.N. offices in the city. According to press reports,
the governor of Amman refused permission for the event.
In May 2001, security forces dispersed hundreds of protestors who
were attempting to stage two rallies in Amman. The Government claimed
that the rallies were unauthorized and unlawful. Police used tear gas,
water cannons, batons, and dogs to disperse the demonstrators,
reportedly injuring between 10 and 30 persons (see Section 1.c. and
In July 2001, police and University of Jordan security personnel
refused to allow students holding an anti-Israeli protest to exit the
campus. No force was used in the incident.
The Government restricted freedom of association. The Government
required and routinely granted approval for conferences, workshops, and
seminars. Currently, professionals must join their respective
The Government routinely licensed political parties and other
associations. There were 30 licensed political parties. Membership in an
unlicensed political party was illegal. The Government may deny licenses
to parties that it decides do not meet a list of political and other
criteria contained in the Political Parties Law. The High Court of
Justice may dissolve a party if it violates the Constitution or the
Political Parties Law.
In January 2001, security officials arrested seven members of the
Anti-Normalization Committee, a group that opposes the country's
relations with Israel, on charges of belonging to an illegal group (see
Section 2. a.). The State Security Court also charged two of the seven
persons with possession of explosives and with terrorist activities. The
arrests followed the publication of the Committee's blacklist, which
included the names of companies and persons with ties to Israel or
Israeli businesses. All seven detainees were released on bail while
awaiting trial. The trials had not yet begun by year's end.
In October 2001, the Government arrested or detained more than 50
persons for violating the public gathering laws. Included in the October
detentions were at least 10 students from Jordan University, 15 members
of the Muslim Brotherhood and its political arm, the Islamic Action
Front (IAF), and members of extremist groups. The Government had
released all 50 persons by the end of 2001.
c. Freedom of Religion
The Constitution provides for the safeguarding of "all forms of worship
and religious rites in accordance with the customs observed in the
Kingdom, unless such is inconsistent with public order or morality."
Within that constitutional framework, the Government imposes some
restrictions on freedom of religion. The Constitution also states that
"there shall be no discrimination" between Jordanians "as regards their
rights and duties on grounds of race, language, or religion." However,
some members of unrecognized religious groups and religious converts
from Islam faced legal discrimination and bureaucratic difficulties in
personal status cases.
According to the Constitution, Islam is the state religion. The
Ministry of Religious Affairs and Trusts managed Islamic institutions
and the construction of mosques. It also appointed imams, provided
mosque staff salaries, managed Islamic clergy training centers, and
subsidized certain activities sponsored by mosques. The Government
loosely monitored sermons at mosques and required that speakers refrain
from criticizing the Royal Family or instigating social or political
unrest. The Political Parties Law prohibits the use of houses of worship
for political party activity. The law was designed primarily to deny
government opponents the ability to preach politically oriented sermons
Persons enjoy freedom of belief, and there were no reports that the
practice of any faith was prohibited. However, the Government does not
officially recognize all religious groups. Some religious groups, while
allowed to meet and practice their faith, complained of societal and/or
official discrimination. In addition, not all Christian denominations
have been accorded legal recognition as religions. The Prime Minister
unofficially conferred with an interfaith council of bishops
representing local churches on all matters relating to the Christian
community, including the registration of new churches in the country.
The Government used the following criteria when considering recognition
of Christian churches as separate official religions: the faith does not
contradict the nature of the Constitution, public ethics, customs, or
traditions; the faith is recognized by the Middle East Council of
Churches; the faith does not oppose the national religion; and the group
includes some citizen followers.
Religious institutions, such as churches that wish to receive
official government recognition, must apply to the Prime Ministry for
registration. Recognized non-Muslim religious institutions did not
receive subsidies; they were financially and administratively
independent from the Government and were tax-exempt. Some churches were
registered with the Ministry of Justice as "societies," rather than
According to the Government, the role of the State in religious
affairs is limited to supervision. Groups that have practices that
violate the law and the nature of society were prohibited; however,
there were no reported cases of religious groups being banned in
The Government did not recognize the Druze or Baha'i faiths as
religions but did not prohibit the practice of the faiths. Druze faced
official discrimination but did not complain of social discrimination.
Baha'is faced both official and social discrimination. The Government
did not record the bearer's religion on national identity cards issued
to Druze or Baha'is. The small Druze and Baha'i communities did not have
their own courts to adjudicate personal status and family matters; such
matters are heard in Shari'a courts. The Government did not officially
recognize the Druze temple in Azraq, and four social halls belonging to
the Druze were registered as "societies." The Government did not permit
Baha'is to register schools or places of worship.
The Government did not recognize Jehovah's Witnesses, the Church of
Christ, or the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but each
denomination was allowed to conduct religious services and activities
The Government did not interfere with public worship by the country's
Christian minority. Although the majority of Christians were allowed to
practice freely, some activities, such as encouraging Muslims to convert
to the Christian faith
The Jordan Evangelical Theological Seminary (JETS), a Christian
training school for pastors and missionaries, had still not been
accredited by the end of the year. As a result, students and faculty
from the U.S. and elsewhere wishing to attend JETS were still unable to
obtain student visas. JETS continued its operations with students
studying on tourist visas.
Shari'a prohibits non-Muslims from proselytizing Muslims. Conversion
to the Muslim faith by Christians was allowed; however, a Muslim may not
covert to another religion. Muslims who convert to other faiths
complained of social and government discrimination. The Government does
not fully recognize the legality of such conversions. Under Shari'a,
converts are regarded as apostates and legally may be denied their
property and other rights. However, in practice, this principle was not
applied. According to the Government, it neither encourages nor
prohibits apostasy. Converts from Islam do not fall under the
jurisdiction of their new religion's laws in matters of personal status
and are still considered Muslims under Shari'a. Conversely, converts to
Islam fall under the jurisdiction of the Shari'a courts. Shari'a
prescribes the death penalty for Muslims who convert to another
religion; however, there is no corresponding statute under national law,
and such punishment has never been applied.
Government policy requires that foreign missionary groups (which the
Government believes are not familiar with the customs and traditions of
the country) refrain from public proselytizing "for the sake of their
own personal safety from members of society that oppose such practices."
The Government has taken action against some Christian proselytizers in
response to the complaints of recognized Christian groups who charge
that the activities of these missionaries "disrupt the cohesiveness and
peace between religious groups in society." In December, an American
pastor asserted that the Government harassed him and his wife, and
threatened to cancel their residency permits. The pastor claimed that
the Government intimidation was in response to his refusal to verify
whether or not Muslims attended his church's services.
In the past, there were some reports of local government officials
encouraging Christian females involved in relationships with Muslim
males to covert to Islam to diffuse family or tribal disputes caused by
the relationship (see Section 5). However, there were no known cases in
which local officials harassed or coerced persons to convert during the
According to the Constitution, religious community trusts ("Awqaf")
and matters of personal status, such as marriage, divorce, child
custody, and inheritance fall within the exclusive jurisdiction of the
Shari'a courts for Muslims, and separate non-Muslim tribunals for each
religious community recognized by the Government. There is no civil
marriage. The head of the department that manages Shari'a court affairs
(a cabinet-level position) appoints Shari'a judges, while each
recognized non-Muslim religious community selects the structure and
members of its own tribunal. All judicial nominations are approved by
the Prime Minister and commissioned officially by royal decree. The
Protestant denominations registered as "societies" come under the
jurisdiction of one of the recognized Protestant church tribunals. There
are no tribunals assigned for atheists or adherents of unrecognized
religions. These persons must request one of the recognized courts to
hear their personal status cases.
During the year, a child custody case was adjudicated through the
court system (both Shari'a and civil) and custody of two minors who were
raised as Christian was transferred from their Christian mother to her
Shari'a is applied in all matters relating to family law involving
Muslims or the children of a Muslim father, and all citizens, including
non-Muslims, are subject to Islamic legal provisions regarding
inheritance. Men are able to divorce their spouses more easily than
women are, although a law passed in December 2001 allows women to
divorce their husbands in Shari'a Court. Since the law went into effect,
Shari'a courts have granted at least two divorces brought by women (see
All minor children of a male citizen who converts to Islam are
automatically considered to be Muslim. Adult children of a male
Christian who has converted to Islam become ineligible to inherit from
their father if they do not themselves convert to Islam. When a Muslim
converts to Christianity, the act is not recognized legally by the
authorities, and the subject continues to be treated as a Muslim in
matters of family and property law, and the minor children of a male
Muslim who converts to Christianity continue to be treated as Muslims
under the law.
Some Christians are unable to divorce under the legal system because
they are subject to their faith's religious court system, which does not
allow divorce. Many of these individuals convert to another Christian
denomination or the Muslim faith in order to divorce legally.
The Government notes individuals' religions (except for Druze and
Baha'is, and other unrecognized religions) on the national identity card
and "family book" (a national registration record that is issued to the
head of every family and that serves as proof of citizenship) of all
citizens. Atheists must associate themselves with a recognized religion
for official identification purposes.
The Government traditionally reserves some positions in the upper
levels of the military for Christians; however, all senior command
positions have been traditionally reserved for Muslims. Division-level
commanders and higher are required to lead Islamic prayer for certain
occasions. There were no Christian clergy in the military.
Despite efforts by religious extremists, in 2001 the criminal court
and Shari'a court acquitted poet Musa Hawamdeh of charges that he had
"insulted religious values and defamed prophets" in his poetry.
The Press and Publications Department continued its April 2000 ban on
a book of poetry by Ziyad Al-Anani; the book contained a poem that
reportedly was offensive to Islam (see Section 2.a.).
In June 2000, due to a dispute stemming from an intrachurch rivalry
between the Jerusalem Patriarchate and the Antioch Orthodox
Patriarchate, the Government closed an Arab Orthodox church that was
aligned with the Antioch Patriarch in Damascus. The Government closed
the church following a request from the local Orthodox hierarchy to
enforce a 1958 law that grants the Jerusalem Patriarchate authority over
all Orthodox churches in the country. In December 2000 the church
reopened with permission from the Government, but was closed again a
week later based largely on pressure from the Orthodox hierarchy. The
Government stated that the church was free to open under a different
name that would not imply affiliation with the Orthodox Church. The
church remained closed at year's end.
Non-Jordanian Christian missionaries operated in the country but were
subject to restrictions. Christian missionaries may not proselytize
Muslims. During the year, U.S.-affiliated Christian mission groups in
the country continued to complain of bureaucratic difficulties,
including refusal by the Government to renew residence permits.
In February 2000, the governor of the Amman municipality closed the
office of Life Agape--an organization associated with the Baptist
Church--after the director refused to sign a letter stating that he
would not "deal with Muslims." The office remained closed at the end of
In April and September 1999, a foreign employee of a small language
school in Amman applied for a residence permit from the Ministry of
Interior. His application was denied, reportedly because government
officials believed that he had been attempting to convert Muslims to
Christianity. He reapplied in April 2000, and was awaiting a response
from the Government at the year's end.
For a more detailed discussion, see the
Religious Freedom Report.
d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel,
Emigration, and Repatriation
The law provides for the right of citizens to travel freely abroad
and within the country except in designated military areas; however,
there are some restrictions on freedom of movement. The law requires
that all women, including foreign women married to citizens, obtain
written permission from a male guardian--usually their father or
husband--to apply for a passport. The current passport laws do not state
that a woman must have permission from her male guardian to renew her
passport. In the past, there were several cases in which mothers
reportedly were prevented from departing with their children because
authorities enforced requests from fathers to prevent their children
from leaving the country (see Section 5).
The GID sometimes withheld passports from citizens on security
grounds. In August a reporter claimed that government security forces
confiscated his passport. Local governors have the authority to invoke
the Preventing Crimes Law, which allows them to place citizens under
house arrest for up to a year without formally charging them (see
Section 1.d.). House arrest may involve requiring persons to report
daily to a local police station and the imposition of a curfew. Persons
who violate the terms of their house arrest may be imprisoned for up to
Persons with full citizenship received passports that are valid for 5
years. Most Palestinians living in the country were citizens and
received passports that are valid for 5 years. However, the Government
estimated that there are 150,000 Palestinian residents who are refugees
or children of refugees who arrived from Gaza after 1967 and do not
qualify for citizenship. They receive 2-year passports valid only for
travel. In the period following the country's administrative and legal
disengagement from the West Bank in 1988, Palestinians residing in the
West Bank received 2-year passports valid for travel only, instead of
5-year Jordanian passports. In 1995, King Hussein announced that West
Bank residents without other travel documentation again would be
eligible to receive 5-year passports. However, the Government emphasized
that these passports are for travel only and do not connote citizenship,
which may be proven only by presenting one's "national number," a civil
registration number accorded at birth or upon naturalization to persons
holding citizenship. The national number is recorded on national
identity cards and in family registration books, which are issued only
During the year, there were allegations that the Government did not
consistently apply citizenship laws. There were 32 cases reported in
which passports were taken by the Government in efforts to implement
1988 West Bank disengagement laws. In 2001, there were reports of 52
complaints from persons or families claiming that the Government denied
their right to citizenship. All 52 reported complainants disputed the
Government's claim that they were ineligible for citizenship under the
regulations, and many filed appeals with the Ministry of Interior.
In July 2001, there were reports that immigration officials at the
King Hussein/Allenby Bridge crossing with Israel confiscated the
Jordanian passports belonging to Jordanians of Palestinian origin who
were carrying both Jordanian and Palestinian Authority travel documents.
The Government stated that such confiscations were consistent with laws
that prohibit citizens of Arab League countries from holding passports
of any other Arab League member. Human rights observers claimed that no
such law exists, and that the policy against dual nationality is based
on an informal agreement of Arab League countries.
Human rights activists reported that approximately 1000 Jordanians of
Palestinian origin remained outside the country at year's end, due to
the Government's refusal to renew their passports at embassies overseas.
The majority of such persons now live in Syria, Lebanon, and Libya as
stateless persons. Diplomatic representatives or human rights observers
who inquired about the situation received no government response.
The Constitution specifically prohibits the deportation of citizens.
In June 2001 the Government permitted the return of Ibrahim Ghosheh, one
of four HAMAS leaders allegedly expelled in 1999. Although initially
refused entrance, Ghosheh was admitted in return for his pledge to cease
his activities with HAMAS. The three other expelled HAMAS leaders
remained outside the country at the year's end (see Sections 1.d. and
There is no law or statute that provides for the granting of refugee
status or asylum. The Government generally cooperates with the office of
the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The UNHCR
must resettle refugees in other countries. However, in April 2001 the
Ministry of Interior signed a memorandum of understanding with the UNHCR
concerning the status and treatment of refugees. Under the agreement,
the Government admits asylum seekers, including those who have entered
the country clandestinely, and respects the UNHCR's eligibility
determinations under the refugee definitions set forth in the 1951 U.N.
Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol. The
agreement provides protection against the forcible return of refugees
from the country, and recognizes the legal definition of a refugee as
set forth in the U.N. Convention. The UNHCR regularly trains law
enforcement officials in international refugee law, including
specialized courses for policewomen. The Government provides first
asylum. According to UNHCR figures, 55,626 persons sought asylum through
the UNHCR between October 1990 and 2000.
The Government estimates that over 300,000 Iraqis resided in the
country. Since 1991 thousands of Iraqis have applied for refugee status
and received legal and material assistance from the UNHCR. In addition
to applications from Iraqis during the year, the UNHCR also received
applications for refugee status from Sudanese, Russians from Chechnya,
Somalis, and Eritreans.
For the 2001-2002 school year, the Government continued its policy of
denying Iraqi children admittance to school unless they are legal
residents of the country or recognized as refugees by the UNHCR.
Almost 1.6 million Palestinian refugees were registered in the
country with the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA).
The UNRWA counts another 800,000 Palestinians as either displaced
persons from the 1967 war, arrivals following the 1967 war, or returnees
from the Gulf between 1990 and 1991.
Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to
Change Their Government
There are significant restrictions on citizens' right to change their
Government. Citizens may participate in the political system through
their elected representatives in Parliament; however, the King has
discretionary authority to appoint and dismiss the Prime Minister,
Cabinet, and upper house of Parliament, to dissolve Parliament, and to
establish public policy. Appointments made by the King to high level
government posts do not require legislative approval. Executive power is
vested in the King (or, in his absence, in the Regent), who exercises
his power through his ministers in accordance with the provisions of the
In June 2001, the King dissolved Parliament and directed the
Government to draft a new election law. In August the King again
announced postponement of elections and indicated that they would be
held by spring 2003. As of year's end, the King had not announced a
specific date for elections and the Parliament remained dissolved.
According to the provisions of a temporary election law approved by
the King in July 2001, the Parliament is composed of a 40-member Senate
appointed by the King, and a popularly elected 104-member Chamber of
Deputies. The Chamber of Deputies previously contained 80 members. The
Parliament is empowered by the Constitution to initiate legislation, and
it may approve, reject, and amend legislation proposed by the Cabinet. A
group of 10 senators or deputies may submit draft bills for
consideration; however, in practice legislation is initiated and drafted
by the Cabinet of Ministers and submitted by the Government to
Parliament for consideration.
Opposition Members of Parliament have claimed that attempts by
members of the lower house to initiate legislation receive no response
from the Government. The King proposes and dismisses extraordinary
sessions of Parliament and may postpone regular sessions for up to 60
days. If the Government amends or enacts a law when Parliament is not in
session, it must submit the law to Parliament for consideration during
the next session; however, such "temporary" laws do not expire and,
while technically subject to action by Parliament when it returns to
session, may in practice remain in force without legislative approval.
Municipal elections in July 1999 featured the participation of the
parties that had boycotted the 1997 parliamentary elections; however,
low voter turnout necessitated a second day of balloting. The municipal
elections were regarded generally as free and fair.
The July 2001 election law increased the number of electoral
districts by redrawing district boundaries and redistributing seats
among districts. The Government also included provisions, such as those
requiring verification of polling results by members of the Judiciary,
that are designed to increase transparency and accuracy. The voting age
was lowered from 19 to 18 years. The law did not include quotas for
women or opposition political parties. Observers believed that the new
law continues to favor electorates in the rural and southern part of the
country as well as in regions with populations known for their
traditional, pro-Hashemite views.
The law retains the so-called one-man, one vote provision, which
allows voters to choose only one candidate in multiple-seat districts.
In the largely tribal society, citizens tend to cast their first vote
for family members, and any additional votes in accordance with their
political leanings. The amendment also limits representation in the
largely Palestinian urban areas. As a result, the amendment in practice
tended to limit the chances of other nontribal candidates, including
women, Islamists, and other opposition candidates, to be elected.
From July to September 2001, the Government initiated a series of
consolidations designed to merge many of the country's 328
municipalities into approximately 100. The Ministry of Municipal, Rural,
and Environment Affairs stated that these mergers were taken to reduce
municipal operating costs and improve local services. Opponents of the
measure claimed that the consolidations were an attempt to undermine the
strength of Islamist parties in local Government, and that it will
weaken the democratic process at the municipal level by reducing the
number of locally elected officials. The IAF sought to enjoin the
Government from making the consolidations, but the courts held that the
IAF had no standing to initiate such an action.
Women have the right to vote, and women's groups encouraged women to
vote and to be active in the political process. There was one female
minister. In the previous Parliament there were two female senators, and
one female member of the Chamber of Deputies.
Of the 104 seats in the lower house scheduled for election in 2003, 9
are reserved for Christians, 9 for Bedouins, and 3 for either the
Circassian or Chechen ethnic minorities.
The Palestinian community, estimated at more than half of the total
citizen population, contributed 6 of 28 ministers. In the most recent
Parliament, 6 of 40 senators and 11 of 80 lower house deputies were of
Palestinian origin. There were no Palestinians in any of the 12
governorships throughout the country. The electoral system gives greater
representation to areas that have a majority of inhabitants of
Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and
Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights
Domestic and international human rights groups investigated
allegations of human rights abuses and published and disseminated
findings critical of government policy. The 1999 amendments to the Press
and Publications Law removed restrictions on the publication of
information about the military and security services, which had
prevented the publication by domestic groups of reports alleging torture
and other abuses committed by the security services; however, similar
restrictions still exist in the Penal Code and other laws (see Section
The local chapters of the Arab Organization for Human Rights (AOHR)
and the Jordanian Human Rights Organization (JHRO) were registered with
the Government. On October 29, the Ministry of Interior dissolved the
Jordanian Society for Citizens' Rights (JSCR), one of the few human
rights groups not affiliated with any political movements or the
Government. The Government reported that it closed the NGO because of
legal infractions and internal disputes related to finances. However,
the JCSR claimed the closure was for political reasons, including the
JCSR's reporting of Palestinian citizens losing their passports as a
result of 1988 disengagement laws.
The groups drew public attention to alleged human rights abuses and a
range of other political issues. They also pressed the Government either
to bring formal charges against political detainees or to release them
promptly. The AOHR and JSCR (before it was dissolved) published human
rights reports during the year. In 2001, the AOHR asserted that the
Government responds to only about 10 percent of the complaints that the
NGO submits on behalf of individuals who allegedly were subjected to
human rights abuses by the authorities; the JSCR claimed the Government
responds to 20 percent of its cases. Before it was dissolved, the JSCR
reported that the Government generally supported its public workshops
during which citizens discussed their viewpoints on sensitive social and
political topics. Local NGOs reported that the Government did not
generally interfere with their actions. Local NGOs were not permitted to
receive funds from foreign sources, and some NGO workers reported that
they feared they would be accused of accepting illegal funds from
abroad. In September 2000 the Jordan Press Association expelled its vice
president, Nidal Mansour for allegedly receiving foreign funding for the
NGO he headed, the Center for Defending Freedom of Journalists. In
February 2001, the Higher Court of Justice denied Mansour's appeal of
his expulsion (see Section 2.a.).
In March 2000 the Government formed the Royal Commission for Human
Rights, chaired by Queen Rania. The mandate of the Commission is to
present recommendations on reforming current laws and practices to King
Abdullah and to institutionalize human rights in the country. In
November 2000, the Commission sponsored two human rights awareness
seminars with police and judicial officials in Amman and Aqaba. In June
2001 the Commission presented a draft law designed to create an
independent National Center for Human Rights. The Government had not
released the draft nor taken any further action on the legislation at
the end of the year.
The Government established in 2000 the National Team for Family
Protection and the Child Protection Center (see Section 5). The
Government controlled the Parliamentary Public Freedoms Committee, the
Ombudsman, and the Human Rights Office at the Prime Ministry.
The Government generally cooperated with international NGOs. The ICRC
usually was permitted full and unrestricted access to detainees and
prisoners, including those held by the GID and the military intelligence
directorate (see Section 1.c.).
Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Disability, Language, or
The law does not distinguish between citizens on the basis of race.
However, women and some minorities were treated differently under the
law and faced discrimination in employment, housing, and other areas.
Violence against women was common. Reported incidents of violence
against women did not reflect the full extent of the problem. Medical
experts acknowledged that spousal abuse occurred frequently. However,
cultural norms discouraged victims from seeking medical or legal help,
thus making it difficult to assess the extent of such abuse.
Abused women have the right to file a complaint in court against
their spouses for physical abuse but in practice, familial and societal
pressures discouraged them from seeking legal remedies. Marital rape is
not illegal. NGOs such as the Jordanian Women's Union, which had a
telephone hot-line for victims of domestic violence, provided assistance
in such matters. Wife-battering technically was grounds for divorce, but
a husband may seek to demonstrate that he has authority from the Koran
to correct an irreligious or disobedient wife by striking her.
The Criminal Code provides for leniency for a person found guilty of
committing an "honor crime," a violent assault with intent to commit
murder against a female by a relative for her perceived immodest
behavior or alleged sexual misconduct. Law enforcement treatment of men
accused of honor crimes reflected widespread unwillingness to recognize
the abuse involved or to take action against the problem. Although the
press was in the past reluctant to report on honor crimes, many honor
crimes committed during the year were reported, including the total
number of 21. The actual number of honor crimes was believed to be
significantly higher. Human rights observers believed that many more
such crimes were committed but not documented as honor crimes. According
to women's rights activists, there was some evidence of a societal trend
toward condemnation of honor crimes. However, in 2001 one forensic
medical examiner estimated that 25 percent of all murders committed in
the country were honor crimes. The police regularly imprisoned women who
are potential victims of honor crimes for their own protection. In 2001
there were up to 40 women involuntarily detained in such "protective"
custody during the year.
According to Article 340 of the Penal Code, a "crime of honor"
defense may be invoked by a defendant accused of murder who "surprises
his wife or any close female relative" in an act of adultery or
fornication, and the perpetrator of the honor crime is judged not guilty
of murder. Although few defendants are able to meet the stringent
requirements for a crime of honor defense (the defendant personally must
have witnessed the female victim engaging in sexual relations), most
avoided trial for the crime of murder, and were tried instead on the
charge of manslaughter. Even those convicted of murder rarely spent more
than 2 years in prison. In contrast to honor crimes, the maximum penalty
for first-degree murder is death, and the maximum penalty for
second-degree murder is 15 years. Such defenses also commonly relied on
the male relative having acted in the "heat of passion" upon hearing of
a female relative's alleged transgression, usually without any
investigation on the part of the assailant to determine the veracity of
the allegation before committing the assault. Defenses in such cases
fall under Article 98 of the Penal Code. In December 2001 the Government
passed a temporary law amending Article 340 to apply equally to men and
women. However, this legal change did not substantially affect the
sentencing of perpetrators of honor crimes as no defendant in an honor
crime invoked Article 340 during the year.
In February, a 37-year-old man was sentenced to 1 year in prison for
killing his pregnant sister and her alleged lover. Her brother, Mohammad
Ahmad shot Farjeh Ahmad, after she confessed to him that she was
pregnant out of wedlock. Mohammad Ahmad subsequently shot and killed
Farjeh's lover. The Criminal Court found that "Farjeh's unlawful and
dangerous actions caused the defendant to lose his temper and to kill
both of the victims without realizing the consequences of his actions."
In June, the Criminal Court reduced a felony charge of murder against
31-year-old Faisal Hassan to a misdemeanor, exactly 1 year after he shot
and stabbed his pregnant sister. The Criminal Court reduced his charge
to misdemeanor in accordance with Article 98 "because the defendant
committed his crime in a fit of fury and his family dropped charges
against him." Hassan was sentenced to time served and released.
In September the Court of Cassation overturned a 3-month sentence
given to a 35-year old man for murdering his sister, Fadia Mohammad to
"cleanse his honor." The court remanded the case to the Criminal Court
with an instruction to return with a harsher sentence. On November 9,
the Criminal Court imposed a 10-year prison sentence. In June 2001,
Fadia Mohammad had been shot and stabbed by her brother, who killed her
after learning that she was pregnant.
During the year, a 39-year-old man was formally charged with the
premeditated murder of his wife. After shooting her, he subsequently
surrendered to local authorities. His wife had just finished serving a
2-year prison sentence for adultery and allegedly had returned to her
Egyptian lover after her release from prison. The husband found her in a
busy marketplace in Irbid and shot her four times in the head.
In July 2001, a 15-year-old boy from Irbid confessed to killing his
20-year-old sister. He claimed to have acted in defense of his family's
honor. The boy repeatedly struck his sister in the head with a club
before covering her body in kerosene and setting it on fire. A coroner's
report found that the girl had not been sexually active. Her brother
surrendered himself to police and was sentenced to 4 years in juvenile
detention for his crime.
There were no developments in the April 2000 death of Fathieh
Mohammad, who reportedly was shot and killed by her father to "cleanse
his honor." The police subsequently arrested and charged both her father
and brother for the crime.
Most activists believe that even if Article 340 were repealed, honor
crimes likely would persist, with sentences continuing to be reduced
under Article 98.
Female genital mutilation (FGM) was rarely practiced. However, one
southern tribe of Egyptian origin in the small village of Rahmah near
Aqaba reportedly practiced FGM. In 2001, one local Mufti issued a fatwa
stating that FGM "safeguards women's chastity and protects them against
malignant diseases by preventing fat excretions." However, the Mufti
also stated that since FGM is not a requirement of Islam, women who do
not undergo this procedure should not be embarrassed.
According to the law, sexual harassment is strictly prohibited and
subject to criminal penalties including fines and imprisonment. Sexual
harassment, assault, and unwelcome advances of a sexual nature against
women did not appear to be widespread problems.
Women experienced legal discrimination in matters of pension and
social security benefits, inheritance, divorce, ability to travel, child
custody, citizenship, and the value of their Shari'a court testimony in
certain limited circumstances (see Section 1.e.). The Government
provided men with more generous social security benefits than women. The
Government continued pension payments of deceased male civil servants
but discontinued payments of deceased female civil servants to their
heirs. Current laws and regulations governing health insurance for civil
servants do not permit women to extend their health insurance coverage
to dependents or spouses. However, divorced and widowed women may extend
coverage to their children.
Under Shari'a as applied in the country, female heirs receive half
the amount of male heirs and the non-Muslim widows of Muslim spouses
have no inheritance rights. A sole female heir receives half of her
parents' estate; the balance goes to designated male relatives. A sole
male heir inherits both of his parents' property. Male Muslim heirs have
the duty to provide for all family members who need assistance. Men are
able to divorce their spouses more easily than women, although the most
recent personal status law does grant women the right to bring a divorce
action in certain limited circumstances (see section 2.c.). Marriage and
divorce matters for Christians are adjudicated by special courts for
each denomination (see Section 2.c.). There were 11 female judges in the
country, up from 6 in 2001.
The law requires a married woman to obtain her husband's permission
to obtain, but not renew, a passport (see Section 2.d.). Married women
do not have the legal right to transmit citizenship to their children.
Furthermore, women may not petition for citizenship for their
non-Jordanian husbands. The husbands themselves must apply for
citizenship after fulfilling a requirement of 15 years of continuous
residence. Once the husbands have obtained citizenship, they may apply
to transmit the citizenship to their children. However, in practice such
an application may take years and, in many cases, citizenship ultimately
still may be denied to the husband and children. Such children become
stateless and, if they do not hold legal residency, lacked the rights of
citizen children, such as the right to attend school or seek other
Civil law grants women equal pay for equal work, but in practice this
law often was ignored. Press and union leaders reported during the year
that a small number of employers in the private sector reportedly paid
their female employees well under the legal minimum wage, despite the
fact that the women were under contract.
Social pressures discouraged many women from pursuing professional
careers. Nonetheless, women had employment opportunities in many
professions, including government, engineering, medicine, education, the
military, and law. According to 2001 NGO reports, women constituted
approximately 16.5 percent of the work force and 50 percent of
university students. While female employees held approximately 52 and 39
percent of jobs in the education and health sectors respectively, they
held only 7.5 percent of managerial posts and 10 percent of all jobs in
the private sector. Women's groups stressed that the problem of
discrimination was not only one of law, but also of women's lack of
awareness of their rights or unwillingness to assert those rights. The
Business and Professional Women's Club held seminars on women's rights
and assists women in establishing small businesses. The chapter also
provided several programs for potential female voters and candidates for
the upcoming 2003 parliamentary elections. Members of the royal family
worked actively to improve the status of women.
The Government is committed to children's rights and welfare in the
areas of education and health. However, government efforts in these
areas were constrained by limited financial resources. Education is
compulsory until the age of 16; however, no legislation exists to
enforce the law or punish guardians for violating it, and absence of
children from school is without penalty. The overall school attendance
rate was 92 percent and the total secondary school attendance rate was
92 percent. Since the beginning of the 1999-2000 school year, the
Government denied Iraqi children admittance to public school unless they
were legal residents of the country or recognized as refugees by the
UNHCR (see Section 2.d.).
The Government attempted to address the issues of educational
development and quality, and the relevance of education to job-market
demand, with few concrete results. The Government also grants fee
reductions and food and transportation supplements to families with many
children or to very poor families to make education more affordable.
Students must obtain a good behavior certificate from the GID in
order to qualify for admission under the university quota system.
Activists reported that the GID sometimes withholds these certificates
from deserving students due to a family member's allegedly problematic
The Government provided free inoculation programs typically
administered through the school system for children. In addition,
children had access to government-subsidized public clinics, which offer
reduced fees for most services.
In March 2000, Queen Rania established the National Team for Family
Protection (NTFP) to consolidate all issues concerning family safety. In
August 2000, the Government opened "Dar al Amman," the nation's first
child protection center. The facility provides temporary shelter,
medical care, and rehabilitation for children ages 6 to 12 years who
have suffered abuse.
Although the problem was difficult to quantify, social and health
workers believe that there was a significant incidence of child abuse in
families, and that the incidence of child sexual abuse was significantly
higher than reported. The law specifies punishment for abuses against
children. Rape or sodomy of a child under 15 years of age carries the
The Family Protection Unit of the Public Security Department (PSD)
works with victims and perpetrators of domestic and sexual violence. The
Unit deals primarily with child and spousal abuse, providing multiple
in-house services, including medical treatment for patients. The Unit
cooperates with police to apprehend perpetrators of domestic violence,
facilitates participation in education and rehabilitation programs, and
refers patients to other facilities.
Illegitimate children are entitled to the same rights under the law
as legitimate children; however, in practice, they suffered severe
discrimination in a society that does not tolerate adultery or
premarital sex. Most illegitimate children become wards of the State or
live a meager existence on the fringes of society. In either case, their
prospects for marriage and gainful employment are limited. Furthermore,
illegitimate children who are not acknowledged legally by their fathers
are considered stateless and are not given passports or identity
The Government attempts to safeguard some other children's rights,
especially regarding child labor (see Section 6.d.). Although the law
prohibits most children under the age of 16 from working, child vendors
worked on the streets of Amman. The Ministry of Social Development has a
committee to address the problem and in some cases removes the children
from the streets, returns them to their families or to juvenile centers,
and may provide the families with a monthly stipend. However, the
children often return to the streets. Stagnant economic conditions and
social disruption have caused the number of these children to increase
over the last 10 years. Selling newspapers, tissues, small food items,
or gum, the vendors, along with the other children who pick through
trash dumpsters to find recyclable cans to sell, sometimes were the sole
source of income for their families.
Persons with Disabilities
High unemployment in the general population restricts job
opportunities for persons with disabilities, estimated by the Ministry
of Social Development to number 220,000. Thirteen percent of citizens
with disabilities received monetary assistance from the Government. The
Government passed legislation in 1993, reinforced in 2000, requiring
future public buildings to accommodate the needs of persons with
disabilities and to retro-fit existing public buildings; however,
implementation has been slow.
The law requires that 2 percent of the available jobs be reserved for
persons with physical disabilities. Private organizations and members of
the royal family actively promoted programs to protect and advance the
interests of persons with disabilities.
The country's indigenous people, nomadic Bedouin and East Bank
town-dwellers, traditionally have been the backbone of popular support
for the Hashemite monarchy and are represented disproportionately in
senior military, security, and civil service jobs. Nevertheless, many
Bedouin in rural areas were severely disadvantaged economically. Many
persons of East Bank origin complained that the dynamic private sector
largely is in the hands of the Palestinian majority.
Palestinians residing in the country, who made up more than half of
the population, suffered discrimination in appointments to positions in
the Government and the military, in admittance to public universities,
and in the granting of university scholarships. The Government granted
citizenship to all Palestinians who fled to the country in the period
after the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, and to a large number of refugees and
displaced persons who arrived as a result of the 1967 war. However, most
refugees who fled Gaza after 1967 were not entitled to citizenship and
were issued 2-year passports valid for travel only. In 1995 then-King
Hussein announced that West Bank residents without other travel
documentation would be eligible to receive 5-year Jordanian passports.
However, the Government emphasized that these passports are for travel
only and do not connote citizenship (see Section 2.d.).
Section 6 Worker Rights
a. The Right of Association
Workers in the private sector and in some state-owned companies have
the right to form and join unions. Unions must be registered to be
considered legal. Union by-laws limit membership to citizens,
effectively excluding the country's approximately 150,000 foreign
workers. However, some unions represented the interests of foreign
workers informally. Over 30 percent of the work force were organized
into 17 unions. Although union membership in the General Federation of
Jordanian Trade Unions (GFJTU), the sole trade federation, was not
mandatory, all unions belonged to it. The Government subsidizes and
audits the GFJTU's salaries and activities. Union officials are elected
by secret ballot to 4-year terms. The Government cosponsors and approves
the timing of these elections and monitors them to ensure compliance
with the law. Union leaders complained about the requirement to have
government oversight of their elections.
The GFJTU belongs to the Arab Labor organization, the International
Confederation of Arab Trade Unions, and to the International
Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU).
b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively
Unions have and exercise the right to bargain collectively. The
Constitution prohibits antiunion discrimination, but the ICFTU claimed
that the Government did not protect adequately employees from antiunion
discrimination and that the Government has dismissed public sector
employees for political reasons. Workers may lodge complaints of
antiunion discrimination with the Ministry of Labor, which is authorized
to order the reinstatement of employees discharged for union activities.
There were no complaints of antiunion discrimination lodged with the
Ministry of Labor during the year.
Labor laws mandate that workers must obtain permission from the
Government in order to strike. Unions generally do not seek approval for
a strike, but workers use the threat of a strike as a negotiating
tactic. Strikes are prohibited if a labor dispute is under mediation or
arbitration. If a settlement is not reached through mediation, the
Ministry of Labor may refer the dispute to an industrial tribunal with
agreement of both parties.
The tribunal is an independent arbitration panel of judges appointed
by the Ministry of Labor. The decisions of the panel are legally
binding. If only one party agrees, the Ministry of Labor refers the
dispute to the Council of Ministers and then to Parliament. Labor law
prohibits employers from dismissing a worker during a labor dispute.
During the year, there were three strikes reported in the textile
sector. These employees went on strike claiming that, among other
issues, the employers failed to pay wages in a timely manner. There were
other labor incidents during the year in the construction and cement
sectors. In most cases, labor and management reached agreements quickly,
and the Government assisted in mediating disputes.
The national labor laws apply in the free trade zones in Aqaba and
Zarqa. The QIZs (Qualified Industrial Zones), or export zones which
produced manufactured goods with at least 8 percent Israeli input,
applied national labor laws as well.
c. Prohibition of Forced or Bonded Labor
The Constitution forbids bonded labor, except in a state of emergency
such as war or natural disaster, and it generally was not practiced.
However, foreign domestic servants, almost exclusively female, often
were subject to coercion and abuse and, in some cases, worked under
conditions that amounted to forced labor (see Section 6.e.). The law
does not prohibit specifically forced or compulsory labor by children;
however, such practices were not known to occur.
d. Status of Child Labor Practices and Minimum Age for Employment
Labor law forbids children under the age of 16 from being employed,
except as apprentices, and prohibits children under the age of 17 from
working in hazardous jobs. Children under the age of 18 may not work for
more than 6 hours continuously, between the hours of 8 p.m. and 6 a.m.,
and during weekends, religious celebrations, or national holidays.
Provisions in the labor laws do not extend to the informal sector, which
consists of agriculture, domestic labor, and family businesses.
According to the law, employers who hire a child under the age of 16
must pay a fine ranging from $140 to $710 (100 to 500 dinars). The fine
is doubled if the offense is repeated. However, the Government did not
provide training for government officials who are responsible for
enforcing child labor laws and did not enforce laws regarding child
labor during the year. All child labor enforcement responsibilities rest
in the hands of 85 Ministry of Labor inspectors. Government officials
claimed that if children were barred from working in practice, they will
lose important income on which their families depend, and may turn to
more serious activities, such as drug trafficking and prostitution, for
In late 1999, the Ministry of Labor established a new division to
deal with issues of child labor. The division was established to
receive, investigate, and address child labor complaints and related
issues. Assistance received from the International Labor Organization (ILO)
and increases in the Government's funding for the Ministry of Labor this
year and in 2001, allowed the Ministry to staff the division.
Financial assistance received from ILO during the year and in 2001
supported government efforts to implement the provisions of ILO
Convention 182 on Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labor.
Government policy also facilitated the work of NGOs in this area. There
were no specific mechanisms for receiving, investigating, or addressing
child labor complaints relating to allegations of the worst forms of
Anecdotal evidence suggested that child labor, especially of child
street vendors, was more prevalent now than it was 10 years ago due to
declining economic conditions (see Section 5).
The law does not specifically prohibit forced or bonded labor by
children; however, such practices are not known to occur (see Section
e. Acceptable Conditions of Work
The national minimum wage was $121 (85 dinars) per month for all
workers except domestic servants, those working in small family
businesses and those in the agricultural sector. The national minimum
wage did not provide a decent standard of living for a worker and
family. The Government estimated that the poverty level was at a monthly
wage of about $125 (89 dinars) per month for a family with 7.5 members.
A study completed by the Ministry of Labor in July 1999 found that 18.7
percent of the population lived at or below the poverty level and that
1.5 percent lived in "abject" poverty, defined by the Government as $58
(40.5 dinars) per month for a family with 7.5 members. The Government
provides minimal assistance to at least 45,000 indigent families.
The law requires overtime pay for hours worked in excess of the
standard workweek, which generally is 48 hours. Hotel, restaurant, and
cinema employees may work up to 54 hours per week. Workers may not work
more than 10 hours in any continuous period or more than 60 hours of
overtime per month. Employees are entitled to 1 day off per week.
The law specifies a number of health and safety requirements for
workers, which the Ministry of Labor is authorized to enforce. The law
does not require employers to report industrial accidents or
occupational diseases to the Ministry of Labor. Workers do not have a
statutory right to remove themselves from hazardous conditions without
risking the loss of their jobs.
Labor law does not apply to the agricultural sector, small family
businesses, or domestic servants. Domestic servants do not have a legal
forum to address their labor grievances and have no standing to sue in
court for nonpayment of wages. Abuse of domestic servants, most of whom
were foreign, was widespread. Imprisonment of maids and illegal
confiscation of travel documents by employers was common. Victims, who
fear losing their work permits and being returned to their home country,
generally did not report complaints of beatings, insufficient food, and
rape to officials. Domestic servants generally were not given days off
and frequently were called upon to work at any hour of the day or night.
f. Trafficking in Persons
The law does not specifically prohibit trafficking in women or men
and the practice was not known to occur. A 1926 law specifically
prohibits trafficking in children. There were no reports that persons
were trafficked, to, from, or within the country.