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TITLE: JORDAN HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES, 1993 DATE: JANAURY 31, 1994 AUTHOR: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE JORDAN According to the 1952 Constitution, Jordan is a hereditary monarchy in which the King forms and dismisses governments, may dissolve Parliament, and is the ultimate arbiter of domestic and foreign policy. In practice, the King sets the broad parameters of foreign and domestic policy while the Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers exercise management of daily affairs. The Parliament--consisting of a 40-member Senate whose members are appointed by the King and an 80-member lower house whose members are elected--is subordinate to the executive branch. The General Intelligence Directorate (GID) and the Public Security Directorate (PSD) have broad responsibility for internal security and wide powers to monitor segments of the population thought to pose a threat to the security of the regime. Although the Government revoked martial law directives in 1991, important elements of martial law, such as the broad scope of police powers, remain operative. Jordan has a mixed economy, with government participation in key sectors, including industrial production, transportation, and communications. The country has few natural resources and one of the highest population growth rates in the world. Jordan's stance during the Gulf war caused Arab Gulf states to suspend flows of financial aid. Nevertheless, the economy continued to show surprising strength in 1993, growing by a projected 6 to 7 percent. Growth during this period is in part attributable to the investment of repatriated savings by returnees from the Gulf. Jordan continues to remain highly dependent on foreign assistance and remittances from its nationals abroad. The Jordanian economy was adversely affected by a reduction of exports to Iraq, a major trading partner, as a result of United Nations' sanctions against Iraq. The unemployment rate was at least 14 percent for the year, while the inflation rate moderated to approximately 5 percent. Jordan continued to show progress in liberalizing the country's political system. As a result of the legalization of political parties in 1992, 20 political parties, running the gamut of leftist, centrist, and Islamist conservative parties, were licensed in 1992 and 1993. The King ratified a change from the previous bloc-voting system to a "one person, one vote" system in August. On November 8, 1992, the Government of Prime Minister Abd Al-Salam Al-Majali supervised the country's first multiparty parliamentary elections since 1956. While there were some minor irregularities on polling day, international and domestic observers agreed that the parliamentary elections were essentially free and fair. Nevertheless, citizens still do not have the right to change their government. Other continuing human rights problems included the broad scope of police powers, abuse of prisoners, prolonged detention without charge, lack of fair trial in some security cases, official discrimination against adherents of the Baha'i faith, and restrictions on women's rights. RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from: a. Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing There were no reports of such killings. b. Disappearance There were no reports of disappearances. c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment Despite the Government's denial that torture occurs and the Legal Code's requiring humane treatment of prisoners, physical abuse of prisoners during interrogation and detention continues to occur. Lawyers often do not receive timely access to their clients in cases involving state security, and this lack of access makes confirmation of abuse in specific cases difficult. The most frequently alleged methods of torture or maltreatment are sleep deprivation, beatings, and subjection to the "falaqa" (beatings on the soles of the feet). Defense lawyers in the trial of six military cadets and two civilians accused of plotting to assassinate the King charged the security services with torturing the suspects during 4 months' incommunicado detention from April to August (see Section 1.d.). Although the State Security Court approved the defense lawyers' September request for medical examinations to determine if physical or mental torture was used by GID interrogators, the judges did not release the results of the physician's October examinations until mid-November. As of December, the "Mu'tah" trial proceeded without an official court ruling on the allegations of torture. A forensic specialist and a military doctor testified in early November that they found no evidence of physical or mental maltreatment. (The GID claims that detainees are routinely provided medical examinations during detention.) The defense, however, challenged the testimony and alleged that, since the doctors were government employees, they were vulnerable to government pressure. The military judge rejected the defense request to provide its own doctor to examine the detainees. Amnesty International and the Arab Organization for Human Rights investigated the allegations of torture but reserved judgment until the verdict was reached and the anticipated appeal process completed. The Government gives the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) full access to detainees. ICRC representatives have had full and unimpeded access to the suspects detained in the Mu'tah case throughout the trial. d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile Most persons are arrested and held in accordance with the Criminal Code, which requires filing of formal charges within 10 days. This period of detention may be extended if a court approves the Prosecutor General's renewable request for 10-day extensions. The Ministry of Justice is responsible for monitoring cases to ensure that persons are charged on a timely basis. In many cases, however, repeated requests by the prosecution for 10-day extensions of a suspect's detention--which can result in months of incarceration without charge--are routinely granted. Notification of arrest and access to legal counsel are provided on an inconsistent basis during the detention period. Notification and access are less likely to be provided in so-called state security cases. The practice of prolonged detention without charge continued in 1993, especially in "security" cases. After obtaining an arrest warrant, the GID detained persons without formal charges or trial for indeterminate periods. The Government detained a number of Islamists in 1993 for alleged affiliation with or membership in an illegal political organization, the Islamic Liberation Party (Hizb Al-Tahrir Al-Islami), which advocates the violent overthrow of the Jordanian Government, the abrogation of the Constitution, and the adoption of Islamic law as the foundation of the State. Several--including party leaders Ata Abu Rishteh and Bakr Al-Khawlidah--were released after almost 6 months in incommunicado detention. There are unconfirmed reports that up to 10 Hizb Al-Tahrir party members remained in detention without charges at the end of the year. Eight Islamists involved in the Mu'tah case (see Section 1.c.), charged with plotting to assassinate the King and with membership in the outlawed Islamic Liberation Party, were held incommunicado from the time of their arrest in late April until defense lawyers were granted access by the State Security Court in late August. Throughout that time, the suspects were denied visitation by family members, human rights representatives, and legal counsel. Governors may order arrest and detention under a law authorizing them to do so in order to prevent a crime. As an example of this practice, human rights monitors cited the case of a Jordanian man arrested in September and detained for 1 week without charges upon the instruction of the Governor of Amman, allegedly to prevent his participation in antipeace process demonstrations. The Constitution prohibits the exiling of Jordanian citizens, and the Government does not engage in the practice. e. Denial of Fair Public Trial The judicial system consists of civilian courts, which hear most criminal cases; the Appeals Court; the State Security Court, which replaced the Martial Law Court in 1991; religious courts; and special courts, including one that deals exclusively with disputes involving government agencies. In the civilian courts, trials are open, except in a few cases such as those involving sexual offenses. Defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty and are entitled to have counsel, to question witnesses, and to testify. Defendants facing the death penalty or life imprisonment must have legal counsel; if they cannot afford or do not want counsel, the Government must appoint representation. Decisions may be taken to the Appeals Court. Religious courts have jurisdiction over such family matters as marriage and divorce. The Shari'a Court handles all family and religious cases involving Muslims. Other courts handle similar matters for members of the main Christian sects (Greek Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant). Shari'a laws are generally applied in matters of inheritance, regardless of the religion of those involved. Observers continue to express concern about the impartiality of the judiciary, citing low judicial salaries and strong tribal affiliations as undermining the court system. Observers have also raised concerns about the impartiality of military judges who preside over security cases in the State Security Court prosecuted by military lawyers. The State Security Court comprises a minimum of three judges. While either civilian or military judges may serve, the use of military judges in security cases has prevailed in recent years. State Security Court procedures give rise to concern because of the routine denial of private, unimpeded access to lawyers in the pretrial period and the absence of the right of appeal. A State Security Court sentence of death or imprisonment of more than 10 years must be reviewed by the Court of Cassation (the highest court) within 30 days. Although the State Security Court is theoretically open to the public, in practice, courtroom access is restricted to official guests, journalists, and a limited number of family members. Embassy officers have been allowed to attend sessions. Under the State Security Court Law ratified in January, all Security Court decisions may be appealed to the Court of Cassation. Unlike the previous law, which allowed the Supreme Court to review only the application of the law, the new code permits the court to review witnesses' testimony, the evidence presented, and the State Security Court's decision. Most important, the appeal of State Security Court cases must be reviewed by a civilian--rather than a military--panel of judges. As of the end of the year, the appeal procedures had remained untested in sensitive state security cases such as the "Mu'tah" case. Claiming that no one is currently serving a prison term solely for political views, the Government denies that it holds any political prisoners. Following King Hussein's general amnesty in November 1992, approximately 50 prisoners remain in prison who were convicted in military courts of crimes committed in pursuit of political aims; the charges in these cases included arms possession and terrorism, but in at least some of these cases the legal proceedings did not meet international standards for fair trial because of the State Security Court's denial of unimpeded access to lawyers in the pretrial period and an inadequate right of appeal. f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence The law stipulates that search warrants must be issued by the prosecutor general or a judge for searches of premises in most cases. In cases involving state security, however, the normal legal requirements for a search warrant are not routinely applied. Search warrants for security-related cases are sometimes obtained retroactively. Security personnel reportedly monitor telephones, read correspondence, and engage in surveillance. These practices, legal under Jordanian law, are not believed to be widespread. Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including: a. Freedom of Speech and Press In principle, the Constitution provides for freedom of speech and the press, and Jordanians freely express wide-ranging opinions, including criticism of the Government. However, the Government continues to exercise limited censorship of the local media by pressuring news editors to change or omit coverage that the Government finds embarrassing or contrary to what it perceives to be Jordan's interests. More often, the print and broadcast media censor themselves without specific prompting from the Government because of fear of the authorities. The Parliament is also sensitive to public criticism and as an institution has been quick to sue critics for slander. A reporter for a weekly political party newspaper covering the "Mu'tah" conspiracy trial was banned from the courtroom and arrested September 26 on the order of the military prosecutor; his editor was called in for questioning on September 29. Both were charged with slandering the State Security Court in articles written about court delays in ordering medical examinations for defendants. The Ministry of Information refused to intercede with the court on behalf of the journalist and editor, stating that the issue was judicial in nature. The new Press and Publications Law that went into effect on May 17 calls for the Government to reduce its ownership share of the capital of the press company or organization to 30 percent within 2 years. The Government still owns the main newspapers and administers the broadcast media. Foreign newspapers and magazines are widely available, though on two known occasions the Government forbade distribution of foreign newspapers containing controversial articles about the King. In August the Government blocked distribution of two London-based Arabic dailies which carried off-the-record comments made by the King during a meeting with journalists. The Jordanian authorities forbade sale of an issue of the International Herald Tribune in September that carried a Washington Post editorial questioning the future of Jordan as a state. Western cable television is available through satellite links. The new Press and Publications Law, which replaces the 1973 Press and Publications Law, was widely criticized by Jordanian journalists and by international press rights groups because it continues restrictions on freedom of expression. Controversial provisions include: licensing of journalists, editors, and directors of publications and printing facilities; licensing of newspapers and periodicals; limited protection of confidentiality of journalists' sources; and restrictions on press coverage and prior restraint. Its requirement that journalists join the Jordan Press Association is a continuing source of contention. In August the Information Minister proposed a "press code of honor" to be enacted as a provision of the Press and Publications Law and as a Jordan press association law. The proposed honor code contains 11 points, including exhortations not to publish off-the-record information or state secrets, particularly those pertaining to the armed forces that might benefit the "enemy of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan or any sister Arab states." Many journalists have characterized the code as redundant and view it as a further attempt to control their activities. The Press and Publications Law authorizes licensed political parties to publish newspapers, and these new publications have tested the limits of the new law's vaguely worded restrictions on coverage of proscribed topics such as national security, parliamentary proceedings, and stories about the royal family. The Prime Minister issued a directive in September barring civil servants from writing for the press. Such activity was already proscribed by the Civil Servants' Law, but that law was not previously enforced. Academic freedom is inhibited by the fact that academics have been dismissed for expressing certain political views. There were no known dismissals in 1993. b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association Public demonstrations--including election campaign rallies--require permits. While such permits have been readily granted for peaceful protests since the beginning of the political liberalization in 1989, the Ministry of Interior banned election campaign rallies in late September. Jordan's Supreme Court overturned this ban on October 28 and election rallies were permitted in the last week before the November 8 parliamentary elections. Political parties were legalized in October 1992, and the first political party was licensed by the Ministry of Interior on December 2, 1992. Since that time, a total of 20 political parties have registered. c. Freedom of Religion Under the Constitution, Islam is the state religion, and over 90 percent of Jordanians are Sunni Muslims. The Government adheres to the constitutional guarantee of freedom of worship, and followers of most religions experience no governmental persecution. Religious groups must be registered and recognized by the Government in order to manage property and administer schools. Non-Muslim sects are not allowed to proselytize among Muslims, but Muslims are allowed to convert to other religions. Individuals who wish to convert from Islam complain of social and legal barriers to equal treatment once they have converted. Such persons are regarded as apostates under Shari'a (Islamic) law and may be legally denied property and other rights. Converts from Islam do not fall under the jurisdiction of their new religion's laws in personal status matters and are still considered Muslims under Shari'a law. The Government does not recognize the Baha'i faith as a religion, but it did take steps in 1993 to alleviate some of the problems of discrimination faced by Jordan's small Baha'i community (see Section 5). Several other religious groups are not officially recognized by the Government but are able to meet without harassment: Jehovah's Witnesses, the United Pentecostal Church, the Church of Christ, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation Movement within the country is restricted in military areas. While all women are required by law to obtain the written permission of a male guardian to travel abroad, this requirement is generally enforced only with married women who wish to travel abroad with their children. Jordanian men can prevent their children from departing the country, even when traveling with their mothers or other family members. Passport renewals for citizens residing in Jordan require clearance from the police. Palestinians residing in the East Bank may obtain 5-year passports, while Palestinians residing in the West Bank may obtain 2-year passports. Jordan also grants some Palestinians of Gazan origin 2-year passports regardless of where they live. The Interior Ministry routinely grants permits for travel between the East Bank and the Israeli-occupied territories and neighboring states. There were reports in 1993 that several Palestinians, carrying restricted validity Jordanian passports, were barred from returning to their residences in Jordan from the West Bank on suspicion of belonging to radical Islamist groups outside the country. The Government claims that 300,000 Palestinian refugees returned from the Gulf states--the majority from Kuwait--as a result of the Gulf crisis (actual numbers may have been substantially lower). The number of Palestinian refugees registered with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) is 1,093,800 persons, 223,000 of whom reside in Jordan's 10 official and 3 unofficial refugee camps. Jordan indicated that 120,000 Iraqi refugees moved into Jordan in the months after Iraqi travel restrictions were lifted in May 1991. International relief agencies responsible for refugee affairs in Jordan estimate the current number of Iraqis residing in Jordan to be no more than 30,000. Since the imposition of a 15,000 Iraqi dinar (about $94 in December 1993) exit tax in February, the number of Iraqis able to afford the trip to Jordan has been severely curtailed. Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change Their Government Jordanian citizens may elect municipal officials and members of the Chamber of Deputies but are not ultimately free to change their system of government or its leaders. Executive and legislative powers are constitutionally vested in the King, who rules with the assistance of a Council of Ministers, which he appoints. The Parliament is composed of an appointed Senate and an elected lower house. The Parliament is overshadowed by the executive branch but has the right to approve, reject, or amend laws proposed by the Council of Ministers. According to the Constitution, the Parliament has the right to approve or reject treaties and agreements with a majority vote. The King may propose extraordinary sessions of Parliament and postpone regular sessions up to 60 days. The King must approve all laws, which are then put into effect by royal decree. The Parliament must approve temporary laws issued by the Council of Ministers when Parliament is dissolved or not in session, otherwise the temporary law does not become a permanent part of Jordan's legal system. In August after the King had dissolved Parliament, he approved a temporary law issued by the Council of Ministers modifying the 1986 elections law by converting the previous bloc-voting system to a "one person, one vote" system. Despite the initial objection of 18 of the country's licensed political parties on the grounds that such drastic change to laws governing the election should be reviewed and adopted by Parliament, most parties and political figures eventually decided to participate in the parliamentary elections held in November rather than boycott them as they had threatened. On November 8, the Government of Prime Minister Abd Al-Salam Al-Majali supervised the country's first multiparty parliamentary elections since 1956. While the Government's system for distributing ballot cards to registered voters was blamed for the difficulties in voting some citizens experienced, international and domestic observers agreed that the parliamentary elections were essentially free and fair. The lower house of Parliament created a number of committees to examine individual candidates' complaints about election procedures, but had issued no rulings on the formal complaints as of the end of the year. Despite the political and social uncertainties that arose in Jordan in the aftermath of the September 13 signing of the Israeli-Palestinian Declaration of Principles, King Hussein insisted that all Jordanian citizens--both Palestinian and East Banker--were entitled to vote in the November 8 elections. Some Jordanians of Palestinian origin had doubts about voting in Jordanian elections, fearing that participation in the Jordanian political system would preclude their participation in a future Palestinian election. The Jordanian Government and the King actively encouraged Palestinian-Jordanian citizens to participate fully in the elections. Palestinian-Jordanians were permitted to run as candidates in the parliamentary elections as well as vote on November 8. Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights Local and international human rights groups investigate allegations of human rights abuses and particularly in the area of women's rights have published and disseminated findings critical of government policy. Human rights groups, however, must abide by laws and regulations governing the publication of information about activities of Jordan's military and security services, which constrains them from publishing detailed allegations of torture or other abuse in Jordan. The Arab Organization for Human Rights and the Amman-based Peace Center for Humanitarian Studies have actively pursued controversial human rights cases both publicly and privately. The Jordanian Bar Association also raises human rights concerns with regard to law and procedure, as well as with regard to individual cases. The ICRC operates freely in Jordan and is given access to detainees and prison facilities. Several women's organizations have dramatically increased their activism on issues of gender discrimination: in parliamentary debate on December 7, for example, Deputy Toujan Faisal criticized the discriminatory policy that does not permit Jordanian women to transmit their nationality to their children. Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Disability, Language, or Social Status Women Women experience legal discrimination regarding pension and social security benefits, inheritance, and divorce. Under Shari'a law, which applies to all Jordanian citizens in inheritance matters, a female heir's inheritance is only half that of a male heir. In practice, non-Muslim women occasionally have been able to obtain rulings based upon their own religious laws. The divorce law allows men to obtain a divorce more easily than women, but men may have to pay considerable compensation based on the original marriage contract. A woman whose husband takes additional wives may seek and obtain a divorce under Shari'a law. The law grants women equal pay for equal work, but in practice the law is sometimes ignored, and women are paid less. Under Shar'ia law, a woman's testimony in court carries only half the value of that of a man. Tradition also constrains women's freedoms, particularly their entry into professional and academic realms. Nevertheless, some women have successfully entered the fields of engineering, medicine, and law, and women's issues are receiving increasing attention in the media and at symposia. Women's groups stress that the problem is not only one of laws but also of social constraints, including women's lack of awareness of their rights or unwillingness to assert these rights. The Jordanian chapter of the Business and Professional Women's Club gives seminars on women's rights and assists women in establishing small businesses. Club members traveled to communities throughout Jordan during the election campaign and succeeded in increasing female voter registration and raising women's consciousness about the election process and their rights. Despite progress in these areas, overall change in women's status has been minimal. The Koran allows a husband to discipline his wife, which some men apparently interpret as a license to discipline with force. Sources in the medical field say that, while they know wife beating occurs, family and cultural norms constrain victims from seeking medical or legal help and prevent any realistic quantification of the extent of abuse. Many Jordanians consider it culturally unacceptable to highlight what is considered a private, family matter. The issue also is considered a private one by the police and the judiciary, and public discourse rarely focuses on incidents of spouse or child abuse. Legal avenues to pursue redress in cases of spouse abuse do exist. If a woman is abused by her husband, she can visit a medical doctor, obtain a report documenting her injuries, submit the report to the police, and file a complaint in court based on this evidence. The court will then charge and try the husband. Assistance to victims of domestic violence is provided by nongovernmental organizations (nearly all of which operate with a government license). Wife beating is technically grounds for divorce, but the husband may demonstrate in court that the beating occurred because the wife was irreligious or did not obey him. It is within the discretion of the judge to deny a divorce in such cases. Children Jordan is a signatory to the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, and discrimination against children in Jordan is rare. In September the Jordanian chapter of Amnesty International sponsored a Jordanian children's forum, patronized by the Queen, which examined children's rights. Arab human rights organizations met in Amman in December to discuss implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Jordanian labor law prohibits children under the age of 16 from working. It is only in the past few years that employment of underage children, child street peddlers, and child beggars have appeared. The Ministry of Social Development has set up a committee to address the problem and in most cases removes the children from the streets, returns them to their families, and provides them a monthly stipend. A November report of a 12-year-old girl's engagement to her 11-year old cousin, who reportedly dropped out of school to work in a cottage shoe factory, caused public outrage. The Jordanian Women's Union called on government officials to take strict measures, and the Secretary General of the Ministry of Social Development concurred that the engagement was an abuse and unacceptable. Children under the age of 18 are excluded from capital punishment. Children convicted of crimes are held in special reform centers where they receive vocational training and are not detained with adults. Corporal punishment at schools is prohibited. There have been problems regarding custody of children born to foreign female domestic servants. For example, if such a child has been fathered by a Jordanian man, that child is subject to Shari'a law. Currently, the Jordanian government is considering a law that would make it difficult for single foreign mothers to obtain a residence permit for children with a foreign father not present in Jordan. Indigenous People According to government figures, Bedouin tribes constitute approximately 36 percent of the population. These tribes participate freely in the political system. National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities There are large numbers of 1967 Palestinian refugees, primarily from Gaza, who do not have full Jordanian citizenship and carry only limited validity Jordanian passports. Jordan has granted full citizenship to all Palestinians who fled to the East Bank following the 1948 Arab-Israeli war and to a large number of refugees that came to Jordan after the 1967 conflict. All Palestinian refugees residing in Jordan prior to August 1988 have the unrestricted right to live, work, and own property in Jordan. Many Palestinians, however, experience disproportionate scrutiny in taxation and discrimination in the awarding of university scholarships and government and military jobs, especially at senior levels. King Hussein and the Government of Prime Minister Abd Al-Salam Al-Majali determined that Jordanian citizens of Palestinian origin were entitled to the same rights of political participation--voting and running for parliamentary and local office--as their East Bank counterparts. Although Palestinian voter turnout was lower than that of East Bank Jordanians, Palestinians did vote in the November 8 elections. Furthermore, several high-level parliamentary and ministerial positions are occupied by Jordanians of Palestinian origin. Religious Minorities The Government does not recognize the Baha'i faith as a religion, and Baha'is have suffered various forms of official discrimination. Baha'i identity cards are blank where religion is indicated. In September the Ministry of Education issued regulations that made the previously mandatory study of Islam by Baha'i students optional. In December the Ministry of Interior agreed to accept Baha'i marriage certificates as proof of marriage for the issuance of passports and other official identity documents. However, the Baha'i community still does not have its own court to handle personal status and family matters. Instead, these matters are handled by Islamic Shari'a courts. Baha'i community property cannot be registered in the name of the community but must be registered in the names of individual members. People with Disabilities The Government passed legislation in March regarding education and employment opportunities as well as standardized building and access codes for the disabled. The legislation, known as Law Number 12 for 1993, includes a comprehensive code for all future public buildings to accommodate the needs of the visually, hearing, and physically disabled through standardized technical building and infrastructure requirements. The code stipulates that existing public structures undergo retrofitting to conform to the code, although no specific deadlines for these adjustments were legislated. The law for the welfare of the disabled includes a "bill of rights" for the disabled and mandates the creation of a National Council for the Affairs of the Disabled. People with disabilities in Jordan face the problems of the disabled in many developing nations: severe financial constraints on government and private programs for the disabled, traditional attitudes of discrimination against people with physical and mental handicaps, and unemployment rates among the general population that restrict employment opportunities for the disabled. Currently there is no budget for programs for the disabled: all funding for government and private projects comes from private and nongovernmental organization donations as well as donations from the royal family. Several private nonprofit organizations concerned with education and rehabilitation of the disabled have been active in Jordan for many years. Section 6 Worker Rights a. The Right of Association All nongovernmental workers, except foreigners, have the legal right to form and join trade unions. Workers in some government-owned companies, such as the airlines, are also allowed to form unions. Jordanian labor unions are apolitical. Union leaders are elected by secret ballot for 1-year terms. The Jordan Federation of Trade Unions (JFTU) comprises 17 unions; unions are not required to belong to the Federation, but at present all unions are members. Union officials estimate that less than 25 percent of workers are unionized, thus excluding the majority of the work force from union representation. All unions must register with the Government. Government influence over the JFTU decreased following political liberalization in 1989, but the JFTU is not independent since it depends entirely on government financing. In August the JFTU announced it would convene a general congress for the first time in 14 years. In April the JFTU established an official relationship with the Asian-American Free Labor Institute. These two moves, spearheaded by the current Secretary General of the JFTU, are designed to invigorate Jordan's labor unions. Labor laws forbid strikes if an arbitration committee has been appointed by the Government to end the dispute. If arbitration fails, the matter may be referred to an industrial tribunal, provided both parties to a dispute agree to have the tribunal hear their case. The tribunal is a formal, independent body made up of judges appointed by the Ministry of Labor. The tribunal's decisions are binding. Strikes are not permitted during arbitration or during the tribunal's deliberations. The current labor law stipulates that it is prohibited to dismiss workers during labor disputes. There were no official strikes in 1993. b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively Unions in Jordan have the right to organize and bargain collectively. JFTU member unions regularly engage in collective bargaining with employers. Negotiations cover a wide range of issues, including salaries, safety standards, and working conditions. Though the Constitution bars antiunion discrimination, the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions notes that the Government does not adequately protect employees against antiunion discrimination by employers and does not protect public employees adequately against dismissal for political reasons. Allegations of such discrimination may be taken to the Ministry of Labor, which on occasion has ordered the reinstatement of employees discharged because of their union activities. Duty-free trade zones, in Aqaba and Zarqa, are governed by the same labor provisions that apply countrywide. Private sector workers employed in these zones are part of a national union and are thus allowed to organize and bargain collectively. c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor Compulsory labor is forbidden by the Constitution, except in a state of emergency such as war or natural disaster, and it is not practiced. d. Minimum Age for Employment of Children The labor laws forbid children under age 16 from working except in the case of professional apprentices, who are allowed to leave the standard education track and begin part-time (6 hours per day, no night shift) training at age 13. Ministry of Labor inspection teams attempt to enforce these laws. In practice, some underage children work, primarily in family businesses. Despite compulsory education (education is compulsory up to the 10th grade or age l5), a small number of children in more remote areas are kept from school by their parents in order to work. e. Acceptable Conditions of Work There is no national minimum wage, but the Government periodically prepares and adjusts a minimum wage schedule for various trades, based on recommendations of an advisory panel composed of representatives of workers, employers, and the Government. The absolute minimum wage rate is estimated at $140 per month, inclusive of all allowances. Unskilled workers earning the lowest scheduled wage face increasing difficulties earning enough to provide a family a decent living by local standards. Laws mandate maximum work hours and paid leave: workers are not supposed to work more than 48 hours per week (54 hours for hotel, restaurant, and cinema employees), and may not work more than 16 hours in any continuous period or more than 60 hours overtime per month. Employees are entitled to 1 day off each week. Domestic servants in Jordan are not protected by Jordanian labor laws. Therefore, there is no legal forum to address their labor grievances. Large numbers of Sri Lankan and Filipino workers do not have the benefit of embassies in Jordan to lobby for their interests. The Labor Ministry maintains a group of full-time inspectors to oversee occupational health and safety standards. A parliamentary committee works with the Ministry to monitor conditions in the workplace. Jordanian law specifies a number of health and safety requirements for workers, including standards for bathrooms, drinking water, and safety and first aid equipment. The Government appears to administer and enforce its labor laws fairly, but the deployment of too few inspectors hinders its effectiveness. In addition, under the present Labor Code, inspectors lack the power to make, or have issued, orders having immediate force and no obligation is imposed with respect to notifying the Labor Inspectorate of Industrial Accidents and Occupational Diseases. Parliament declined to consider a draft labor law during its last session that would revise and update legislation dating from 1960.
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