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Title: Jordan Human Rights Practices, 1995 Author: U.S. Department of State Date: March 1996 JORDAN King Hussein has been on the throne of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan since 1952. The 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 consists of a 40-member Senate appointed by the King and an 80-member Chamber of Deputies elected by the people. Since 1989 the lower house has increasingly asserted itself. Reflecting this trend, the Cabinet named in January 1996 included 22 deputies from the lower house. The General Intelligence Directorate and the Public Security Directorate share responsibility for maintaining internal security and have broad authority to monitor the activities of persons believed to be security threats. The security forces continue to commit human rights abuses. The State Security Court and broad police powers remain as vestiges of martial law, which the Government revoked in 1991. 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 1990-91 Gulf crisis, some Arab countries in the Gulf discontinued financial aid, expelled many Jordanian guest workers, and placed restrictions on imports of Jordanian goods. The domestic economy has been buffeted by high unemployment and inflation, and a sharp reduction of exports to Iraq due to United Nations sanctions against that country. Per capita gross domestic product was estimated at $1,459 for 1994. Since the revocation of martial law in 1991, there has been a steady improvement in the human rights situation. Nonetheless, problems remain, including arbitrary arrest; mistreatment of detainees; prolonged detention without charge; lack of due process; harassment of opposition parties; restrictions on the freedoms of press, assembly, and association; official discrimination against adherents of the Baha'i faith; and restrictions on women's rights. Since the signing of the Jordanian-Israeli Peace Treaty in October 1994, opposition complaints about the Government's human rights record have increased. Discrimination against the Bedouin, violence against women, and abuse of children are problems. Citizens do not have the right to change their form of government, although in recent years the King has taken steps to increase participation in the political system, such as legalizing political parties. Nationwide municipal elections held in July were largely free and fair despite opposition accusations of government misconduct. 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 confirmed reports of political or other extrajudicial killings. However, opponents of the Government charged that security forces used excessive force in June when they killed Mahmud Khalifah and wounded his brother Bashir, after the pair used firearms to resist arrest. The two were wanted for shooting at police patrol cars and sending faxes critical of the Government and the King to prominent citizens. The Government insists that there is insufficient evidence of security force wrongdoing. The Attorney General is reviewing the case. b. Disappearance There were no reports of politically motivated disappearances. c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment Although the Legal Code provides prisoners with the right to humane treatment, security and other police forces allegedly 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 are sleep deprivation, beatings, and extended solitary confinement. Local police detention facilities are spartan but generally clean. Prisons are believed to meet minimal international standards. Prisoners detained on national security grounds are often kept in separate prisons maintained by the General Intelligence Directorate or military intelligence. In response to allegations of abusive treatment of prisoners, the Government permitted members of a parliamentary committee to visit the Suwaqa Prison south of Amman in March. Committee members indicated that they were satisfied with prison conditions. According to one deputy, none of the prisoners interviewed by the Committee had undergone torture, and that the authorities punish only violators of prison rules. However, lawyers for two men held in connection with the attack on a French diplomat (see Section l.e.) claim that their clients were subjected to mental and physical abuse during interrogation. Defendants in other state security cases also claim to have been beaten. The Government grants access to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to prisons and prisoners twice a month. d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile Citizens are subject to detention, trial and punishment for the defamation of heads of state, dissemination of "false or exaggerated information outside the country which attacks state dignity," or defamation of public officials. The Criminal Code requires legal authorities to file formal charges within 10 days of arrest. The courts routinely grant requests from prosecutors for 15-day extensions as provided by law. This practice generally extends pretrial detention for lengthy periods of time. In cases involving state security, the authorities frequently hold defendants in lengthy pretrial detention, do not provide defendants with the written charges against them, and do not allow defendants to meet with their lawyers until shortly before trial. Observers estimate that as many as 400 persons are detained each year for national security reasons. All but a few are generally released after questioning. The Government does not exile persons with full citizenship rights (see Section 2.d.). e. Denial of Fair Public Trial The Constitution provides for an independent judiciary. Several court rulings against the Government in the past year, including two by the Court of Cassation involving national security cases, indicate that the judiciary functions independently as provided for in the Constitution (see below). There are several types of courts. Most criminal cases are tried in the civilian courts, which include appeals courts, the Court of Cassation, and the Supreme Court. Cases involving sedition, armed insurrection, financial crimes, and drug-trafficking are tried in the State Security Court, a remnant of the pre-1991 martial law period. 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). Most trials are open in the civilian courts. 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. The State Security Court is comprised of panels of three judges, who may be either civilians or military officers. It frequently restricts public attendance at its trials. Defendants tried in the State Security Court are often held in extended pretrial detention without access to lawyers, although they are visited by representatives of the ICRC. In the State Security Court, judges have inquired into allegations of torture and have permitted the testimony of physicians regarding these allegations; but to date the Court has not invalidated a confession obtained under 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. Appeals are automatic for cases involving the death penalty. However, 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. The Government has countered that military judges receive adequate training in civil law and court procedure and that all court decisions are reviewed by the Court of Cassation. For the first time since the creation of the State Security Court, the Government appointed a panel of civilian judges to hear a case in December. In early 1995, the Court of Cassation overturned the verdicts of four members of the outlawed Islamic Liberation Party who were sentenced in 1994 to 3 years' imprisonment for distributing leaflets slandering the King and for membership in an illegal organization. Two of the defendants were tried in absentia. The two who were in custody were denied access to lawyers until a month prior to their trial. In March the Court of Cassation overturned the convictions in the so- called Arab-Afghan case, in which a group of 25 Jordanians and other Arabs were charged with sedition, and sent the case back to the State Security Court for retrial. The defendants had been tried in 1994 before the State Security Court, which sentenced 11 of them to death, 7 to various prison terms, and acquitted the remaining 7. In ordering the retrial, the Court of Cassation agreed with the defense's contention that the charges in the original indictment did not fall within the jurisdiction of the State Security Court. The defendants were retried on a revised indictment. In the retrial, the State Security Court acquitted 1 defendant and found 10 others guilty. Four were sentenced to death (2 in absentia); the others received prison terms of 7 to 20 years. The Court of Cassation reviewed the retrial in January 1996. It upheld all of the verdicts but commuted the death sentences of the two defendants in custody to life imprisonment; two others sentenced to death are at large. The State Security Court also began the trials in several other cases: In one case, four men were charged with mounting an armed attack on a government office in the Baq'a Refugee Camp in January. In a second case, the Government arrested six members of the previously unknown "Islamic Renewal Movement" for possessing explosives and automatic weapons and for membership in an illegal organization. In a third case, 13 persons belonging to the previously unknown group called "Bay'at Al- Imam" ("Allegiance to the Imam") were arrested for obtaining weapons for use in illegal activities. In a fourth case, two men were tried for attacking a French diplomat and his wife in February. They were charged with plotting to carry out extremist attacks, possessing illegal arms and explosives, and manufacturing explosives. The trials were ongoing at year's end. In December the State Security Court began trials in two cases involving the exercise of free speech. 'Ata Abu Rishtah, spokesman for the Islamic Liberation Party, was put on trial for allegedly slandering the King in a newspaper interview. The editor of the weekly that published the interview also faces prosecution. Also Layth Shubaylat, a prominent dissident and president of Jordan's Engineers Association, was put on trial for slandering the King and Queen and for related charges stemming from his lectures which were critical of the peace treaty with Israel. Shubaylat has been detained without bail. Both cases were pending at year's end. The Government considers the Shubaylat case to be a criminal matter, although international human rights groups have expressed their concern. f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence The authorities generally respect the Constitutional prohibitions of such practices. In most cases, the police must obtain a warrant from the Prosecutor General or a judge before conducting searches. However, in security cases, authorities sometimes--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 who 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 freedom of speech and the press, and citizens generally do not hesitate to 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. In addition, journalists engage in self-censorship when reporting security issues and opposition to the Government. The Government exercises control over the independent print media by requiring licenses for newspapers and periodicals. However, the 1993 law eased licensing requirements and does not prescribe penalties for publishing without a license. The Government may revoke a license only if a company fails to publish for an extended period of time. The Government has licensed nine new weeklies and dailies in 1995. The Government also requires licenses for journalists, editors, and publishers. Journalists have long complained about the requirement that they must join the government-sponsored Jordan Press Association (JPA). 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. In September the Ministry of Information permitted the establishment of a foreign press club. Foreign journalists and Jordanians working for foreign news agencies must also register with the Ministry of Information. 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. Government prosecution of journalists for slander picked up following a November speech by King Hussein that sharply criticized the media for abusing its freedom. The Government also revived several cases against journalists which had been dormant for more than a year. The Government had promised to introduce amendments to the Press and Publications Law that would further tighten restrictions and increase monetary and other penalties, but no amendments had been introduced by year's end. Journalists accused of violating the law are tried in a special court for press and copyright cases. In 1995 the court heard approximately 20 cases related to freedom of the press; in two cases it issued guilty verdicts and fines of $143 (100 Jordanian Dinars) each. Defendants in the other cases were found innocent. Amman correspondent for Al-Hayat Salamah Na'mat was detained in October for several days' questioning and later charged with slander, inaccurate reporting, and "damaging national unity" under the Press and Publications Law. The trial began in December and was ongoing at year's end. The Government banned issues of two weekly newspapers in 1995. In January the Government accused these newspapers of distorting facts, fabricating stories, and publishing obscene photos. It suspended their publication licenses in February because their chief editors were not registered with the JPA. The suspensions were revoked 2 months later by court order. 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 have access to broadcast facilities, but the cost of air time is prohibitively high. International television programs are available by satellite. The Government does not usually interfere with the importation of foreign newspapers and magazines. However, a weekly issue of the Paris- based Al-Muharir was banned in January for publishing an interview in which Libyan leader Mu'ammar Al-Qadhafi criticized Arab countries for making peace with Israel. In the past, some leftist and Islamist university professors were dismissed for advocating extremist political views. Intellectuals believe that there are no safeguards to prevent future dismissals. b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association Citizens must obtain permits for public gatherings. Since 1989 the Government has granted permits for peaceful demonstrations. It routinely licenses political parties and has licensed 23 of them since 1992. Membership in an unlicensed party is illegal. The High Court of Justice may dissolve a party if it 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. The Government has become concerned about public dissent arising from the peace treaty signed with Israel in 1994. In 1995 it denied permits for public protests and rallies in opposition to the treaty. In May the Government rescinded a previously issued permit for a conference sponsored by 11 political parties opposed to the normalization of relations with Israel. The Government has also sought to limit the political activities of professional organizations. In January the Interior Ministry denied a permit for the Al-Urdun Al-Jadid Political Research Center and the Business and Professional Women's Club to hold a workshop on the new draft election law. Senior government officials have warned these organizations to abide by legal requirements that they remain "apolitical." In August security forces closed the professional associations office building in Amman, preventing a union meeting against normalization with Israel. Despite its warnings against political activities, the Government had not introduced legislation by year's end to tighten control over the professional associations. The Government also harassed the supporters of the Islamic Action Front (IAF), an Islamist political party, during the municipal elections held in July. According to the Public Freedoms and Citizens Rights Committee, government officials broke up several IAF meetings during the election campaign and warned shopkeepers in several towns not to display posters or banners for IAF candidates. The Prime Minister denied that the Government interfered in the election campaign. c. Freedom of Religion According to the Constitution, Islam is the state religion. Sunni Muslims constitute over 90 percent of the population. The Government controls the mosques through the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Trusts, which appoints imams and subsidizes activities sponsored by the mosques. In September the Government reaffirmed the year-old ban prohibiting 25 Islamist parliamentarians from preaching in the mosques. Islamic instruction is required for all Muslim students in public schools. The Government does not interfere with public worship by 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 in practice. 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 The law provides for the right of citizens to travel freely abroad and within Jordan except in and through military areas. The law requires that Jordanian women and foreign women married to Jordanians 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 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 the rights of citizenship. Jordanians with full citizenship receive passports valid for 5 years. Until 1995 the Government issued passports with 2-year validity to Palestinians who arrived after 1967, as well as to Palestinians in areas under Israeli occupation who did not have other travel documentation. In October the King announced that virtually all applicants would be eligible for 5-year passports. The Government stresses that these passports are for travel only; they do not denote nationality. Palestinians must obtain permits from the Ministry of Interior for travel between Jordan and the Israeli-occupied territories and neighboring states. Such permits are routinely granted. Over 1.2 million Palestinian refugees are registered in Jordan with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency. The Agency counts another 800,000 Palestinians as displaced from the 1967 war, arrivals following the 1967 war, and returnees from the Gulf. The Government cooperates with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in assisting refugees. In 1994 the Government conducted a regularly scheduled census, which included questions for Palestinians about their family ties to Jordan. The full results of the census have not yet been released. The Constitution prohibits the deportation of citizens. The Government has deported non-Jordanians for security reasons. Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change Their Government Executive and legislative powers are so concentrated in the hands of the King that citizens do not have any meaningful ability to change their system of government. The King has sole discretionary authority to form and dismiss the Cabinet, dissolve Parliament, and establish the broad outlines 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 the Circassian or Chechen 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 Parliament may amend such draft legislation. 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. Women have the right to vote and women's groups encouraged women to vote in the July municipal elections. In the Amman area, over 43 percent of those who voted were women. During 1995 there were two women in the Cabinet, one in the Chamber of Deputies, and two in the Senate. Eleven women were elected to municipal posts in 1995, including 1 as mayor. The Palestinian community, estimated to be slightly over one-half of the total population, is not represented proportionately in the Government. Four of 30 ministers, 7 of 40 senators, and 15 of 80 lower house deputies are of Palestinian origin. The electoral system gives greater representation to south Jordan, which has few inhabitants of Palestinian origin. 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 reports alleging torture and other abuses committed by the security services. The ICRC is granted permission to visit prisoners and assess the condition of security detainees. Early in the year, the Government hampered the ICRC's regular biweekly visits to detainees held by the General Intelligence Directorate. However, the ICRC's regularly scheduled access resumed following a June meeting between the Crown Prince and ICRC officials. 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 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. Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Disability, Language, or Social Status Though Jordanian law does not distinguish between citizens on the basis of race, women and minorities are treated differently under the law and may face discrimination in employment, housing, and other catagories. Women Violence against women over the age of 15 is common. Reported incidents of all crimes against women declined in 1995, although medical experts acknowledge that spousal violence against women occurs frequently. However, 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, such as the Jordanian Women's Union's hot-line to victims of domestic violence. Wife beating is technically grounds for divorce, but the 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 allows for leniency for persons found guilty of committing a "crime of honor," the term commonly used for a violent assault against a female by a male relative for alleged sexual misconduct. The press reported 15 such cases in 1995, down from 23 reports in 1994. However, these figures likely understate the actual number of cases, as most crimes of honor are not reported by the press. According to the law, a "crime of honor" defense may be invoked only by a defendant who "surprises his wife or any close female relative committing adultery." Women may not invoke this defense for murdering a male relative under the same circumstances. Even if the defense cannot meet the stringent requirements for a crime of honor defense--the defendant must have witnessed the female victim engaging in sexual intercourse--offenders rarely spend more than 2 years in prison. In contrast to honor crimes, the maximum penalty for first-degree murder is death; the maximum penalty for second-degree murder is 15 years. Women experience legal discrimination in matters of pension and social security benefits, inheritance, divorce, and the value of testimony in court (see Section l.e.). The Government provides men with more generous social security benefits than women. The Government continues pension payments of a deceased male civil servant to his heirs but discontinues the payments of a deceased female civil servant. Under Shari'a or, Islamic law, 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. Shari'a law regards the testimony of two women to be equal to the testimony of one man. This technically applies only in religious courts but in the past has been 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 bans married women from applying for diplomatic posts. The law requires a married woman to obtain her husband's permission to obtain a passport (see Section 2.d.). Married women do not have the legal right to confer citizenship on their children. However, they may obtain citizenship for their non-Jordanian husbands who then may confer 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 generally 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 United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization reported in 1995 that women in Jordan who work in agriculture average 15-hour days and earn less than men. The Jordanian chapter of the Business and Professional Women's Club gives seminars on women's rights and assists women in establishing small businesses. Children The Government is committed to children's rights and welfare in the areas of education and health. However, the Government's progress in these areas is constrained by limited financial resources. The Government guarantees some children's rights, especially regarding child labor. Although the law prohibits children under the age of 16 from working, child peddlers work the streets of Amman. The Ministry of Social Development has formed a committee to address the problem and in most 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 child usually returns to the streets soon afterwards. Corporal punishment in schools is prohibited. Although the problem is difficult to quantify, social workers say there is a significant incidence of child abuse within families. The law specifies punishment for specific abuses against children. Rape and sodomy of a child under 15 years of age carry the death penalty. Four men were executed in July for the sodomy and murder of a 4-year-old boy, and another man was executed in December for the rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl. In January 1996, the Court of Cassation upheld the death sentence of a man for repeatedly raping and threatening the life of a 10-year-old girl. The incidence of crimes, especially sexual crimes, against children is significantly higher than reported in the press. People with Disabilities High unemployment in the general population restricts job opportunities for the disabled. 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. The Special Education Department of the Ministry of Social Development admitted 14 new disabled persons into their special centers and placed 5 disabled persons in public and private sector jobs. The Ministry provided the employers with specialized facilities for the disabled and exempted the company from customs and taxes. Private organizations and members of the royal family actively promote programs to educate and rehabilitate the disabled. Indigenous People The Bedouin population carry Jordanian passports and are increasingly assimilated into society. However, they do face social, economic, and professional discrimination. The Government reserves 6 seats for the Bedouin in the Chamber of Deputies. The military and police forces have special units primarily composed of Bedouins. 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 it allows them to 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, which is estimated at 6 percent. Christian and Baha'i children in public schools are not required to participate in Islamic religious instruction. National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities The Government 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 until 1995 were issued only limited 2-year passports. As of October, most Palestinian refugees became eligible to receive 5-year passports, but the Government has stressed that these passports are for travel only and do not connote nationality (see Section 2.d.). 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. 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. Over 30 percent of the work force is organized into 17 unions. Although union membership in the General Federation of Jordanian Trade Unions (GFJTU), the sole trade federation, is not mandatory, all unions belong to it. The Government subsidizes and audits the GFJTU's salaries and activities. Union officials are elected by secret ballot to 2-year terms. Although the Government cosponsors and approves the timing of these elections, it does not interfere in the choice of candidates. Labor laws mandate that workers must obtain permission from the Government in order to strike. Unions generally will not seek approval for a strike, but workers will use the threat of a strike or wildcat action 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 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 reported strikes in 1995. 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 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 of antiunion discrimination with the Ministry of Labor, which is authorized to order the reinstatement of employees discharged for union activities. The Ministry did so in 3 out of 8 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 of 16 from working except as apprentices, who at age 13 may begin part-time training, for up to 6 hours a day and no night work. Ministry of Labor inspectors attempt to enforce the law on child labor, but in practice 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. Child peddlers work on the streets of Amman (see Section 5). 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 $150 (80 dinars) 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 $93 (65 dinars) per month for a family of three. The law prohibits most workers from working more than the customary 48 hours a week, and 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. Workers do not have a statutory right to remove themselves from hazardous conditions without risking loss of their job. (###)
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