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TITLE:  JORDAN HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES, 1994
AUTHOR:  U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DATE:  FEBRUARY 1995






                           JORDAN


The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is a monarchy.  Its 
Constitution concentrates a high degree of executive and 
legislative authority in the King, who determines domestic and 
foreign policy.  The Prime Minister and Cabinet manage the 
daily affairs of government.  The Parliament, which consists of 
a 40-member Senate appointed by the King, and an 80-member 
Chamber of Deputies elected by the people, is relatively weak 
and not an effective check on executive authority.

The General Intelligence Directorate (GID) and the Public 
Security Directorate (PSD) share responsibility for maintaining 
internal security and have broad authority to monitor the 
activities of persons believed to be security risks.  They 
continue to be implicated in human rights abuses.  The 
Government revoked martial law in 1991, but important aspects 
of martial law remain, such as broad police powers.

Jordan has a mixed economy with significant government 
participation in industry, transportation, and communications.  
Jordan has few natural resources and is financially dependent 
on foreign assistance and remittances from Jordanian nationals 
working abroad.  Because of the Government's policies during 
the Gulf War, Arab countries in the Gulf discontinued financial 
aid.  The economy has been buffeted by high unemployment and 
inflation, and a sharp reduction of exports to Iraq due to 
United Nations sanctions.

Human rights abuses include arbitrary arrest; mistreatment of 
detainees; prolonged detention without charge; lack of due 
process; official discrimination against adherents of the 
Baha'i faith; and restrictions on women's rights.  Citizens do 
not have the right to change their form of government, although 
in recent years, the King has taken some steps to increase 
participation in the political system.  In 1992 the Government 
legalized the establishment of political parties and has 
licensed 23 parties to date.  The parliamentary elections held 
in 1993 were free and fair.  Voters may elect municipal 
officials and the lower house of Parliament, but overall 
decisionmaking authority remains with the King.

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 political or extrajudicial killings.

     b.  Disappearance

There were no reports of disappearances.

     c.  Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading 
         Treatment or Punishment

Although the Legal Code guarantees prisoners the right to 
humane treatment, security forces continue to abuse detainees 
physically during interrogation.  Torture allegations are 
difficult to verify because security officials frequently deny 
detainees timely access to lawyers.  The most frequent alleged 
methods of torture include sleep deprivation, beatings on the 
soles of the feet, and extended solitary confinement.

Defense lawyers for 25 Islamists, called the "Arab Afghans" who 
were tried in a military court for "attempting to destabilize 
the country," claimed that security officers tortured their 
clients during pretrial detention from January to August 1994, 
and that their clients confessed under "duress".  The court 
questioned each defendant about allegations of mistreatment.  A 
number said that security officials had "hit" them but were 
unable to identify them.  The Court permitted doctors to 
testify about the defendants' physical condition.  However, the 
doctors were not able to examine the defendants until months 
after the alleged beatings, and were unable to determine the 
cause of the defendants' injuries.

     d.  Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

The Criminal Code requires legal authorities to file formal 
charges within 10 days of arrest.  The courts routinely grant 
prosecutors' requests for 15-day extentions of detention as 
provided by law, thereby extending the period of pretrial 
detention.  If a suspect is detained for a long period, which 
generally happens only in state security cases, the authorities 
often do not provide defendants with the written charges against them or access to legal counsel until shortly before 
trial.

In 1994 the police arrested approximately 70 Islamists as 
suspected security risks, including 40 in a roundup in the 
northern city of Salt.

The Constitution prohibits exile, and the Government does not 
resort to it.

     e.  Denial of Fair Public Trial

Defendants are sometimes denied the right to fair trial in 
state security cases.  The judicial system consists of civilian 
courts, which hear most criminal cases; the Appeals Courts 
(including the Court of Cassation); the Supreme Court; the 
State Security Court, which hears a range of offenses including 
sedition, armed insurrection, financial crimes and drug-related 
offenses; religious courts; and special courts, including one 
that has jurisdiction in disputes with government agencies.

In the civilian courts, most trials are 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.

Islamic, or Shari'a, Courts have jurisdiction over marriage and 
divorce among Muslims and inheritance cases involving both 
Muslims and non-Muslims (see Section 5).

Panels of three judges, who may be either civilian or military 
judges, hear trials in the State Security Court.  Currently, 
only military judges are assigned to the Court.  Although 
trials in the State Security Court are open to the public, in 
practice the Court has restricted the attendance of 
journalists, family members of the defendants, and diplomatic 
observers.

Authorities hold defendants tried in the State Security Court 
for extended periods in pretrial detention without access to a 
lawyer.  Defense attorneys in the Arab Afghan case complained 
that the Court did not give them sufficient time to prepare a 
defense because they were prevented from meeting with their 
clients until 2 days before the opening of the trial (see below 
and Section 1.c.).  However, the Government permitted 
representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross 
(ICRC) to visit the defendants while they were in pretrial 
detention.  Although State Security Court judges inquire into 
allegations of torture and permit the testimony of physicians 
regarding these allegations, the Court has not to date 
invalidated a defendant's confession because it was obtained 
under torture or duress.

Defendants in the State Security Court have the right of appeal 
to the Court of Cassation, which is authorized to review the 
testimony, evidence, and judgment.  These appeal procedures are 
being tested in the "Mu'tah" and Arab Afghan cases.  In the 
Mu'tah case, which was tried from September to December 1993, 
the State Security Court found all 10 defendants guilty of 
plotting to assassinate the King.  It sentenced the ringleader 
to death, two other defendants to life imprisonment, and the 
remaining seven to long periods of hard labor.  The Court of 
Cassation was reviewing the case at year's end.

The State Security Court began the trial of the Arab Afghans on 
August 27 and handed down verdicts on December 21.  The Court 
sentenced 11 defendants to death by hanging, 7 to various 
prison terms with hard labor, and acquitted the remaining 7 
defendants of all charges.  It sentenced three defendants in 
abstentia.  The verdicts were in appeal before the Court of 
Cassation at year's end.

The Government does not detain political prisoners.

     f.  Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 
         Correspondence

The police must obtain a warrant from the Prosecutor General or 
a judge before conducting searches in most cases.  However, in 
security cases, authorities sometimes, and in violation of the 
law, obtain warrants retroactively or obtain preapproved 
warrants.  Security officers reportedly monitor telephones, 
read correspondence, and engage in surveillance of persons that 
allegedly pose a threat to the regime.  While these practices 
are not believed to be widespread, the law permits them if the 
Government obtains a court order.

Section 2  Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

     a.  Freedom of Speech and Press

The Constitution provides for the freedoms of speech and the 
press, and citizens in general openly criticize the 
Government.  However, the Press and Publications Law of 1993 
restricts coverage of 10 subjects, most notably the military 
services, the royal family, and monetary policy.

The Government exercises control over the print media by 
requiring licenses for newspapers and periodicals.  However, 
the Press and Publications Law of 1993 restricts coverage of 10 
subjects, most notably the military services, the royal family, 
and monetary policy.  However, the law does not prescribe 
penalties for publishing without a license, and no such case 
has yet arisen.  The Government may revoke a license only if a 
company fails to publish for an extended period of time.  The 
law eased licensing requirements.  Since enactment, the 
Government has licensed 12 weeklies, 2 dailies, and 4 research 
centers.  The Government requires licenses for journalists, 
editors, and publishers.  Journalists have long complained 
about the requirement that they must join the 
government-sponsored Jordan Press Association.  However, the 
Government has not taken legal action against journalists who 
refuse to join the Association.  The press law offers limited 
protection for the confidentiality of a journalist's sources.

The Penal Code authorizes the State to take legal action 
against any person who incites violence, defames "heads of 
state," disseminates "false or exaggerated information outside 
the country which attacks state dignity," or defames public 
officials.

Although the press law ended censorship, most journalists 
censor themselves.  Journalists accused of violating the law 
are tried in a special court for press and copyright cases.  
Approximately 30 cases relating to freedom of the press were 
pending in that court as of November.

In May a journalist and an editor of the daily English-language 
Jordan Times were fined JD 300 (approximately dollars 430) for 
reporting that defendants in the Mu'tah trial claimed that 
security officers had tortured them while in detention.  In 
June the former editor and a journalist of the weekly Al-Ahali 
were also fined the same amount for reporting the same 
allegations.  The defendants in both cases have appealed.

The Government does not usually interfere with the importation 
of foreign newspapers and magazines.  However, in 1994 the 
Ministry of Information prevented the entry into Jordan of some 
Arab publications, including a Lebanese periodical which was 
embargoed twice, purportedly for containing material regarded 
as morally offensive or critical of the royal family.

In March the Minister of Information announced that, if asked, 
he would not permit the public screening of the American film, 
"Schindler's List."  Movie distributors did not request such 
permission, and the film was not shown.  However, the film is 
available in pirated videocassette format.  The Government has 
not taken steps to seize copies or otherwise block distribution 
of the tape.  The government-appointed Film Censorship Council 
prohibited showings of the Egyptian film, "The Terrorist," on 
grounds that it might encourage extremist violence.

The Government owns the radio and television companies, and 
radio and television news is more restricted than print media.  
Television news airs criticisms of the Government but rarely 
covers alleged human rights abuses.  All political parties 
generally have access to broadcast facilities, but the cost of 
air time is prohibitively high.  In the 1993 elections, the 
Government determined that no party would be given access to 
television because not all parties could afford the expense.  
International cable television programs are widely available by 
satellite from local vendors.

In the past, some leftist and Islamist university professors 
were dismissed for advocating extremist political views.  
Although there have been no known dismissals since the late 
1980's, intellectuals believe that there are no safeguards to 
prevent future dismissals.

     b.  Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

Citizens must obtain permits for any public gatherings.  The 
Government has granted permits for peaceful demonstrations 
since 1989.  The Government routinely licenses political 
parties and to date has licensed 23 parties.  It is illegal to 
participate in an unlicensed party.  The High Court of Justice 
may dissolve a party on application of the Minister of Interior 
if the party violates the Constitution or the political 
parties' law.  The Government has no discretion to deny a 
license to a party that submits a complete application, 
including names of the founders, financial information, and 
bylaws.

     c.  Freedom of Religion

According to the Constitution, Islam is the state religion.  
Sunni Muslims constitute over 90 percent of the population.  
The Government does not interfere with the public worship of 
Jordan's Christian minority.  The Government does not recognize 
the Baha'i faith as a religion but does not prohibit the 
practice of the faith.

The law prohibits non-Muslims from proselytizing.  Muslims who 
convert to other faiths complain of social and government 
discrimination.  The Government does not fully recognize the 
legality of such conversions.  Under Islamic law, converts are 
regarded as apostates and may, in principle, be legally denied 
their property and other rights, although this does not 
happen.  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 law.

     d.  Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign 
         Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation

Citizens are free to travel abroad and within Jordan, except in 
and through military areas.  The law requires that Jordanian 
women and foreign women married to Jordanians must obtain 
written permission from a male guardian to travel abroad or 
apply for a passport.  This requirement is normally enforced 
only when a married woman plans to travel abroad with 
children.  Legal authorities will enforce requests from fathers 
to prevent their children from departing the country, even when 
traveling with their mothers.

Many Palestinian residents are Jordanian citizens--with all the 
rights of citizenship.  The Government authorizes other 
Palestinians to carry Jordanian travel documents.  Palestinians 
must obtain permits from the Ministry of Interior for travel 
between the East Bank and the Israeli-occupied territories and 
neighboring states.  The permits are routinely granted.  In May 
the Government eased travel restrictions on Palestinians, 
allowing residents of the Occupied Territories to enjoy 
unlimited residence and travel in Jordan.

Over 1.2 million Palestinian refugees are registered with the 
United Nations Relief and Works Agency.  The Government 
cooperates with the United Nations High Commissioner for 
Refugees in assisting refugees.  There have been no reports 
that the Government has expelled anyone with a valid claim to 
refugee status.

Section 3  Respect for Political Rights:  The Right of Citizens 
           to Change Their Government

Citizens do not have any meaningful ability to change their 
system of government given that executive and legislative 
powers are concentrated in the hands of the King.  He has sole 
discretionary authority to form and dismiss the Cabinet, 
dissolve Parliament, and to establish the broad parameters of 
public policy.  Appointments made by the King to high 
Government posts do not require legislative approval.  The 
Prime Minister and the Cabinet have limited policymaking powers.

The Parliament is composed of a Senate appointed by the King 
and a Chamber of Deputies elected by the people.  Of the 80 
seats in the Chamber, 9 are reserved for Christians, 6 for 
bedouins, and 3 for Circassians or Chechens, which are ethnic 
minorities.  The Parliament is empowered to approve, reject, or 
amend legislation proposed by the Cabinet.  In practice, 
Members of Parliament ask the Government to submit specific 
legislation for consideration.  The King may propose 
extraordinary sessions of Parliament and may postpone regular 
sessions up to 60 days.  The King must approve by decree all 
laws passed by Parliament.  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.

At year's end, 6 of 31 ministers and 11 of 80 parliamentarians 
are of Palestinian descent.  This representation is in large 
part the result of an electoral system which gives greater 
representation to south Jordan, which has few inhabitants of 
Palestinian origin.  Women have the right to vote.  Three women 
ran for Parliament in the 1993 election; one was was elected to 
a seat reserved for Circassians.  Women's groups encouraged 
women to vote, and in the Amman area, nearly half of those who 
voted were women.

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 have published and 
disseminated findings critical of government policy.  However, 
the press and publications law restricts the publication of 
information about the military and security services, which, in 
effect, prevents the publication of torture reports and other 
abuses allegedly committed by the security services.

The Arab Organization for Human Rights and the Amman-based 
Peace Center for Humanitarian Studies are registered with the 
Government and have raised human rights cases in public and in 
private with government officials.  Both organizations have 
drawn public attention to alleged human rights abuses and have 
pressed the Government to explain the status of some prisoners 
and to charge or release the prisoners promptly.  The Bar 
Association also raises human rights concerns regarding the 
application of the law and due process.  The Government grants 
the ICRC access to detainees and prison facilities.

Section 5  Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, 
           Disability, Language, or Social Status

     Women

Women experience legal discrimination in matters of pension and 
social security benefits, inheritance, divorce, and the value 
of testimony in court (see Section 1.e.).  Under Islamic law, 
or Shari'a, female heirs receive half the amount of a male 
heir's inheritance, while the non-Muslim widows of Muslim 
spouses have no inheritance rights.  A sole female heir 
receives half her parents' estate; the balance goes to 
designated male relatives.  A sole male heir inherits all his 
parents' property.  Male Muslim heirs have the duty to provide 
for all family members who need assistance.  Under Shari'a law, 
the testimony of two women is required to equal the testimony 
of one man.  This technically applies only in religious courts 
but is sometimes imposed in civil courts as well, irrespective 
of religion.  Men are able to obtain divorce more easily than 
women under Islamic law.  Marriage and divorce matters for 
Christians are adjudicated by special courts for each 
denomination.

The Government provides males with more generous social 
security benefits than those for women.  The Government 
continues pension payments of a deceased male civil servant to 
his heirs, but it discontinues the pension payments of a 
deceased female civil servant.

By law, a married woman requires her husband's permission to 
obtain a passport.  Married women do not have the legal right 
to confer citizenship on their children.  However, they may 
confer citizenship on their non-Jordanian husbands who then may 
obtain citizenship for the children.  Civil law grants women 
equal pay for equal work, but in practice this law is sometimes 
ignored.

Social pressure against women pursuing a career is strong.  
Nonetheless, women have employment opportunities in many 
professions, including engineering, medicine, education, and 
law.  Women's groups stress that the problem of discrimination 
is not only one of law but also of women's lack of awareness of 
their rights or unwillingness to assert those 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.

Medical experts acknowledge that spousal violence against women 
occurs.  Cultural norms constrain victims from seeking medical 
or legal help and frustrate a scientific assessment of the 
extent of the abuse.  Abused women have the right to file a 
complaint in court against their spouses, but in practice, 
familial and societal pressures discourage them from seeking 
legal remedies.  Nongovernmental organizations provide 
assistance to victims of domestic violence.  Wife beating is 
technically grounds for divorce, but the husband may seek to 
demonstrate in court that the beating occurred because the wife 
was irreligious or did not obey him.  This defense stems from a 
Koranic injunction to hit an irreligious or disobedient wife, 
not to injure her but to show her the error of her ways.  It is 
within the discretion of a Shari'a Court judge to deny a 
divorce in such cases.

The Criminal Code stipulates a sentence of 1 year for persons 
found guilty of committing a "crime of honor"--which is the 
murder of a female, usually by a male relative, for alleged 
sexual misconduct.  Even if the defense cannot meet the 
stringent condition to plead a crime of honor defense--the 
defendant must have witnessed the female victim engaging in 
intercourse--offenders rarely spend more than six months to two 
years in prison.  By contrast, the penalty for murder is 15 
years.  Women may not invoke the crime of honor defense for 
murdering a male relative under the same circumstances.  The 
law restricts a crime of honor to "he who surprises his wife or 
any close female relative committing adultery."

     Children

Although the law prohibits children under the age of 16 from 
working, child street peddlers may be observed on the streets 
of Amman.  The Ministry of Social Development has a committee 
to address the problem and in most cases removes the children 
from the streets, returns them to their families, and provides 
the families with a monthly stipend.  Corporal punishment in 
schools is prohibited.  Although social workers say there is a 
significant incidence of child abuse within families, the 
problem is difficult to quantify.

     National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

The Government has granted full citizenship to all Palestinians 
who fled to Jordan in the period after the 1948 Arab-Israeli 
war and to a large number of refugees who arrived after the 
1967 war.  However, refugees who fled Gaza after 1967 are not 
entitled to citizenship and are issued only limited-validity 
passports.

Palestinians suffer disproportionate scrutiny in taxation and 
discrimination in the award of university scholarships and 
appointments to senior positions in the Government and the 
military.

     Religious Minorities

The Government does not recognize the Baha'i faith as a 
religion.  It does not record the religion on national identity 
cards issued to Baha'is, nor does it register property 
belonging to the community.  Unlike Christian denominations, 
the Baha'i community does not have its own court to adjudicate 
personal status and family matters.  Baha'i personal status 
matters are heard in Islamic law courts.

The Government does not officially recognize the Jehovah's 
Witnesses, the United Pentecostal Church, the Church of Christ, 
and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, but they 
conduct their activities without harassment.

Established religions require official government recognition 
in order to register property in the name of the church, but 
members may practice their religion without government 
recognition.  In general, Christians do not suffer 
discrimination.  Christians hold cabinet and other government 
positions and are represented in the media and academia 
approximately in proportion to their presence in the general 
population.  In the military, Circassians are overrepresented 
in certain units.  Christian and Baha'i schoolchildren in 
public schools are not required to participate in Islamic 
religious instruction.

     People with Disabilities

The Government passed legislation in 1993 requiring future 
public buildings to accommodate the needs of the disabled and 
the retrofitting of existing public buildings, but 
implementation has been slow.  High unemployment in the general 
population restricts job opportunities for the disabled.  
Private organizations and members of the royal family actively 
promote programs to educate and rehabilitate the disabled.

Section 6  Worker Rights

     a.  The Right of Association

Workers in the private sector and in some state-owned companies 
have the right to establish and join unions.  Unions must be 
registered to be considered legal.  The law prohibits union 
membership for noncitizens.  About 25 percent of the work force 
is organized into 17 unions.  Although union membership in the 
Jordan Federation of Trade Unions (JFTU), the sole trade 
federation, is not mandatory, all unions belong it.  The 
Government subsidizes and audits the JFTU's salaries and 
activities.  Union officials are elected by secret ballot to 
2-year terms.  Although the Government co-sponsors and approves 
the timing of these elections, it does not interfere in the 
choice of candidates.  Unions may not affiliate with 
international bodies.

Labor laws prohibit strikes 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 by agreement of both parties.  If 
only one party agrees, the Ministry of Labor refers the dispute 
to the Council of Ministers and then to Parliament.  The 
tribunal is an independent arbitration panel of judges 
appointed by the Ministry of Labor.  The decisions of the panel 
are legally binding.  Labor law prohibits employers from 
dismissing a worker during a labor dispute.  There were no 
known strikes in 1994.

     b.  The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

Unions have, and exercise, the right to bargain collectively.  
The Constitution prohibits antiunion discrimination, but the 
International Confederation of Free Trade Unions claims that 
the Government does not adequately protect employees from 
antiunion discrimination, and that the Government has dismissed 
public-sector employees for political reasons.  Workers may 
lodge complaints about antiunion discrimination with the 
Ministry of Labor, which is authorized to order the 
reinstatement of employees discharged for union activities.  
The Ministry has done so in three out of eight cases in 1993-94.

The national labor laws apply in the free trade zones in Aqaba 
and Zarqa.  Private sector employees in these zones belong to 
one national union that covers both zones and have the right to 
bargain collectively.

     c.  Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

The Constitution forbids compulsory labor, except in a state of 
emergency such as war or natural disaster.  Compulsory labor is 
not practiced.

     d.  Minimum Age for Employment of Children

Labor law forbids children under the age 16 from working except 
as apprentices, beginning part-time training--6 hours a day, no 
night shift--at age 13.  Ministry of Labor inspectors attempt 
to enforce the law on child labor, but in practice the 
enforcement often does not extend to some small family 
businesses which employ underage children.  Education is 
compulsory to age 15.  Families in remote areas frequently keep 
some school age children at home to work.

     e.  Acceptable Conditions of Work

There is no national minimum wage.  The Government periodically 
adjusts a minimum wage schedule for various trades, based on 
recommendations of an advisory panel representing workers, 
employers, and the Government.  The lowest minimum wage rate on 
the schedule is about $140 a month, including allowances.  
Workers earning the lowest wage find it difficult to stay above 
the poverty level, which the Government estimates at a monthly 
wage of about $86 per month for a family of three.

The law prohibits most workers from working more than the 
customary 48 hours a week--54 hours for hotel, restaurant, and 
cinema employees.  Workers 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.  The law 
does not apply to domestic servants, who do not have a legal 
forum to address their labor grievances.  Domestic servants, 
almost all of whom are foreigners, have no standing to sue in 
court for nonpayment of wages.

The law specifies a number of health and safety requirements 
for workers, including the presence of bathrooms, drinking 
water, and first aid equipment at work sites.  The Ministry of 
Labor makes an effort to enforce health and safety 
requirements, but is hampered by the lack of qualified 
inspectors.  The inspectors do not have the power to order 
firms to comply with health and safety standards.  The law does 
not require employers to report industrial accidents or 
occupational diseases to the Ministry of Labor.

(###)

[end of document]

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