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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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[end of document]

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