The Annual Report on the Status of Human Rights in Jordan
during the year 2008
One of the major issues that the AOHRJ is committed to is issuing an annual report on the status of Human Rights in Jordan at the beginning of the new year.
Undoubtedly this report is an important document for all, the people, and government officials in Jordan and abroad.
Despite the fact that Human Rights reports contain adequate information and much information about the violations of human rights that occurred in the issuing countries during the previous years, the concerned governments do not take enough measures to stop these violations from occurring or at least to minimize them, but this does not stop Human Rights organizations from continuing to bear their responsibilities towards the people and their commitment to the principles of human rights.
As it does in April of every year, the Arab Organizations for Human Rights in Jordan presents this report about the status of Human Rights in Jordan during the year 2008. This report is divided as follows:
(1) Complaints: The number of complaints received by the Organization during the year 2008 was ninety six, grouped as follows:
The established the complaint was made against The nature of the complaint Number of Complaints
The various security entities Physical abuse and torture.
Arrest and illegal detention. 12
Arab and foreign countries:
Iraq = 7
Kuwait = 1
Syria = 6
USA = 3
American authorities in Iraq = 2
Saudi Arabia = 1
British Embassy in Amman = 1
Israel = 1
Turkey = 1 Detention, physical abuse + torture 23
The Pubic Defense Death in prison 2
Ministries, Official and local department Oppressive use of power 8
The Jordanian Judicial System Protest against various sentences and judicial decisions 5
The Association of Lawyers Protest against imposing a fine of trainee lawyers 1
The Private Sector Financial conflict and arbitrary termination 3
Ministry of Interior and its departments Request to obtain official documents 4
UNHCR Request for humanitarian refugee status 2
Muttah University Interfering in the students’ elections 1
Various ministries and government entities Appeals and requests for humanitarian financial aid, medical aide, and jobs 12
The various security entities Barring employment, forbidding prison visits, firing at individuals, arbitrary house arrest, harassment, and others. 11
Total 96 complaints
Number of official replies: 28 or 29% of the total number of complaints.
Number of local replies: 1
The total number of complaints and appeals sent to the Jordanian official = 67
Percentage of replies by the Jordanian Officials = 41.7% of the total number of complaints/appeals.
As usual, the Organization gave its undivided attention to the complaints it received, and sent a copy of them to the officials in the various departments and countries.
It made requests to treat these complaints and do justice to the writers of these complaints, and take the necessary measures to prevent these violations in the future.
The Organization noticed that the Security Authorities do not bother replying to the complaints that are sent to them, except very rarely, due to the numerous complaints they receive.
Since it is the duty of the government to care for the welfare of its people, and provide proper health and living standards to them, a delegation from the Organization visited public hospitals in various parts of the Kingdom to assess the situation within them. This delegation noticed:
(1) The crowd waiting outside these hospitals for their turn.
(2) The patients’ medical files often get lost.
(3) Not accepting patients who are not referred by Medical Centers in the hospital.
(4) The absence of an Information officer in some hospitals.
(5) Prescribed medicines are not available.
(6) The number of hospital beds in some hospitals are inadequate, medicines are not available, and the furniture is old and badly needs renewal or maintenance.
(7) The number of specialized physicians is some hospitals is not enough, there are no laboratories, medicines and nurses, and there is inadequate supervision and security.
(1) Constitutional and Legal Rights
Following the Stock market crisis, and the various cases of “embezzlement and fraud” that were uncovered in the process ranging in the four and five million Jordanian Dinar range, a new law was issued, Law No. 50 for the year 2008 The Law Organizing Dealing with Foreign Stock Markets. This law contains a provision that stipulates that Jordanian Companies who wish to deal with foreign stock markets must obtain a license, renewable every year, and that the licensed companies’ dealings in these stock markets must be in accordance to the law. It also stipulated that these Companies shall restrict their work to Stock Market dealings only.
It also gave the Stock Market Commission the right to audit the accounts, books and activities of these Companies, and impose penalties (to be paid to the Commission) for those who violate the provisions of the law.
Several amendments were also issued in 2008, Law No. 38 for the year 2008: The Postal Service Law; Law No. 20 for the year 2008: The Professional Licensing law; a Law amending the Education Law No. 12 for the year 2008; and Law No. 6 for the year 2008: The Protection From Family Violence Law which contains a stipulation that should a case of family violence occur concerning one family member against another the Court has the right to provide protection to the injured party in the form of:
(a) Ensuring the injured party is not subjected to violence in the future.
(b) Ensuring the perpetrator is forbidden from coming near the home or care center where the injured party resides.
(c) Ensure the property of the injured party or his/her family members are protected.
By this Law, the family is defined as:
(1) The husband and wife, who are legally married, and their children and grandchildren.
(2) The children of one of the spouses from a previous, legal marriage.
(3) The parents of any one of the spouses.
(4) The brothers and sisters of any of the spouses.
(5) Individuals in the care of foster families, who are below the age of 18.
The law also contained several procedures, measures and provisions to protect individuals from family violence.
The Law amending the Law of The Rights of People With Special needs No. 42 for the year 2008 imposes 5 Jordanian Dinars for these individuals (with special needs) as a result of any sales made in the Lands Department.
The following laws were also issued:
Law No. (4) for the year 2008 The Law Amending the Nuclear Energy Law.
Law No. (5) for the year 2008 For Protection from Nuclear Radiation, Nuclear Safety and Security.
Law No. (15) for the year 2008 amending the Trademark Law.
Law No. (48) amending the Labor Law.
Law No. (30) for the year 2008 Amending the Court of Reconciliation Law
Law No. (31) for the year 2008 amending the Formation of Courts Law.
Law No. (63) for the year 2008 amending the Military Retirement Law.
Law No. (13) for the year 2008 amending the Royal Commission For Films Law.
Law No. (25) for the year 2008 amending the Culture Law.
Law No. (18) for the year 2008 amending the Private Universities Law.
Law No. (34) for the year 2008 amending the Ranking Law.
Law No. (11) for the year 2008 amending the Injustice Court Law.
Law No. (35) for the year 2008 amending the Companies Law.
Law No. (23) for the year 2008 amending the Law For the Development of Economic Projects.
Law No. (47) for the year 2008 amending the Public Health Law.
We should also mention here the:
(1) Advancement of the judicial system and providing it with new qualified staff and ensuring its independence.
(2) Cancellation of the Military Courts in the military penalty judiciary system, and making the civil judiciary system the only focal point for the people.
(3) Cancellation of detention procedures by virtue of the Prevention of Crimes law in case of repetition, and for repeated thefts.
(4) Imposing of the Juvenile Law in terms of establishing special courts, detention and imprisonment centers for them.
(5) Prevention of citizenship withdrawal procedures by the Security authorities without prior court orders.
(2) The Rights to Life and Health
The Organization received complaints regarding the death of individuals who are imprisoned, and it requested an investigation in the cause of death (abuse or neglect), and that the necessary legal procedures be taken against the responsible entity. However, the Organization did not receive any reply from the concerned authority.
(4) The Right To Justice and The Supremacy Of The Law
As mentioned previously, the Organization received tens of complaints regarding physical abuse, torture, and illegal detention and arrest in the various security centers and prisons, including the abuse of citizens and disrespect for their human rights.
Individuals were also forbidden from protesting or arranging demonstrations and sit-ins by the pertinent authorities in various parts of the Kingdom.
(5) The Treatment of Prisoners And Detainees
Despite the repetitive requests by the Organization to the concerned Judicial authorities to take all measures to put into effect the Law, and despite various “surprise” visits to prisons and detention centers to assess the situation in them. And despite the various requests made to the concerned authorities regarding the changes that need to be made, no action has been made. The Organization received a complaint regarding the Muwaqqar Prison regarding the death of the prisoner Firas Fayeq Al Atti who was burnt during a fight within the prison. The concerned authorities were informed of this incident but the reason of the death remained unknown. The same circumstances surrounded the death of the prisoners Ibrahim Kamal Abdel Aziz Alleyan, and Majed Mohammad Ahmad Ziyadeh, in the fire whose details remain till now unknown.
Despite the fact that the Directorate of Public Security took the decision to forbid a delegation from the Organization to visit the prisons and meet the prisoners and assess their situation, the Organization through the prisoners’ visitors and by interviewing their relatives has obtained enough information about their living conditions, and which indicate that the prison administrators and all those responsible are undertaking illegal activities, like insulting and verbally abusing inmates, physically abusing the,. Stripping them naked, forbidding them from going out in the sun, and putting them in isolated cells, among other things.
As for the Jordanian prisoners detained overseas, the Ministry of Interior is still unable to play an effective role in their case.
The Jordanian Diplomatic authorities have failed over the years to follow up the cases of the Jordanians detained or imprisoned abroad, despite the fact that there are many of them.
The Organization has previously issued a report on the 35 prisoners detained in the Israeli prisons, in addition to the 25 who are missing, and the 7 prisoners in American prisons in Iraq and those in the USA, and the 250 prisoners in Syrian and other prisons.
It is unfortunate that some of these have been imprisoned for tens of years under dire circumstances without any investigation, or fair trail, or release.
It is also worth noting that the Organization is still receiving complaints regarding the detention centers for juveniles due to the status of these centers and the treatment of those detained in them.
We noticed that the age of the juveniles detained in these center was between 12 and 18, some of which were repeated offenders, and they use new detainees to push drugs and to conduct immoral and illegal offenses, which is dangerous and needs to be treated immediately.
The Organization also noticed a positive development in the way the Ministry of Social Development has handled the issue of Juvenile Care, who started rehabilitating these youth and reintegrating them in society. We hope this continues.
Some of the observations that we have previously mentioned regarding Juvenile in our previous reports include:
(1) The presence of administrative detention for juveniles that is too long.
(2) A high percentage of non-Jordanian juveniles.
(3) The absence of special detention centers for juveniles in the various governorates, excluding Amman and Zerqa.
(4) The absence of legal representation for juveniles.
(5) Juveniles are often subjected to insults, physical abuse, degradation and maltreatment.
(6) Depriving juveniles from continuing their education.
(7) Juveniles are detained for a very long time without release or looking into their case.
Not subjecting juveniles to psychiatric assessment or treatment.
(9) Not conducting any educational and awareness-raising sessions for the detained youth.
It is worth noting here that it is of vital importance that the issues related to juveniles/youth be given immediate attention, because they can be reformed at this early age in their lives, and to ensure they do not join the long list of repeated offenders and criminals if they are neglected and left without care.
(6) The Right To Establish Societies
The Organization did not receive any written complaints to this effect, even those the concurrent policies in the kingdom are very strict regarding the provision of licenses to establish societies or allowing them to conduct any activities.
We also should mention that the government’s request for the resignation of Mr. Ahmad Obeidat, the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the National Center For Human Rights is considered interference on behalf of the government in the Center’s affairs, and is unacceptable. Especially that since Mr. Obeidat headed this Center is has worked independently and has been very courageous is pointing out the violations that were made against human rights in Jordan.
(7) The Rights To Freedom Of Opinion and Expression
The right to freedom of opinion and expression is one of the basic rights that the Jordanian Constitution has protected in its Article No. (15), in addition to all the international agreements and the human rights principles that call for their protection.
Unfortunately, the Jordanian governors are very strict about granting licenses to conduct conferences, meetings, or demonstration even if they are non-political. Basing their decision on the Law No (9) for the year 2004 The Local of Public Assembly, which states that it is necessary to obtain the approval of the Administrative Governor prior to any meeting.
The Organization has repeatedly issued statement regarding the violation of public opinion and freedoms, especially freedom of the press which is one of the most important aspects of these freedoms, and has requested the government to limit the trying of opinion and expression cases in the civil courts, and remove this authority from the hands of the National Security Courts in such cases.
The monitoring of the press and publications is still going on and several writers, in the al Rai newspaper dated 16.9.2008, accused the Department of Publications of restricting freedoms and that publishers are suffering severe financial losses due to this extreme supervision and restriction. In addition to the cancellation of the Higher Commission for Media, following harassment by the government after it published its reports about freedom of the press in the country, which in turn followed the report issued by the “Journalists Without Boundaries” that stated Jordan has declined by 6 points on the scale of freedom of the press.
Despite the fact that a law was issued regarding the freedom to access information, the measures procedures stipulated in the law do not guarantee access to information because officials use the “national secrets” excuse for any subject they do not wish to discuss.
2008 witnessed an increase in fraud and corruption cases that went unannounced, one of which was slavery.
Violence also increase in universities this year, and many students protested the increase in tuition fees. They also called upon the authorities to cease violating their freedoms, and two University Deans spoke about the decrease in the standard of higher education in Jordan.
The Right TO A Fair Trial
Administrative Governors are still detaining individuals with administrative warrants, not those issued by the judiciary authorities, and detainees are not sent to the Judiciary courts. The Security Authorities that the country and the Administrative Authorities depend on to issue detention warrants are the main violators of Human Rights in Jordan……… The National Security Courts are exceptional courts that issue severe sentences based on “confessions” that detainees claim were extracted from them by force and torture. These claims were proved right when the Court Of Distinction looked into several sentences and they revoked them and acquitted the individuals previously convicted. The Organization, in this regard, noticed:
(1) The laws pertaining to public freedoms and freedom of opinion and expression issues gives the authorities extensive power that is often being abused.
(2) The unacceptable delay in transferring detainees to court, for periods often extending into several months, without investigation nor release on bail. In 2008 the number of detainees held under such circumstances reached a record number of 26,088, in addition to 3,920 foreigners detained by virtue of an Administrative order. The number of foreign detainees held by virtue of the District Attorney of the National Security Court reached 7,676, as per the report issued by the National Center for Human Rights regarding the status of the Rehabilitation and Reformation Centers.
This extensive use of detention orders is legally unjustified, but the over use of these orders by district attorneys and investigators has resulted in this increased number of detainees.
It is necessary that measures be taken to prevent these procedures and ensure that detention does not become a punishment, especially that many of the detainees are ultimately (after many months and even years) are found to be innocent and are acquitted by the various courts. The issuing of so many detention orders is unjustified and illegal.
(3) Administrative Detention: Those detained by virtue of an Administrative warrant reached 12,870 Jordanians in 2008, in addition to 1,313 non-Jordanians for violating the residency laws, and are threatened with deportation…without release.
Administrative governors have abused the authority granted them, and have in fact violated the law, by issuing detention order without abiding by the regulations . The fact that there is no effective judicial supervision of prisons and detention centers has led to this miserable state from which many individuals have complained, and which has damaged Jordan’s reputation in the international forums, and in the Human Rights Reports issued by foreign entities.
We have mentioned in our previous reports to the presence of detention orders that have no name on them, signed by the Administrative Governors and given to the Security Officials, who fill in the name without informing the Administrative Governor or even getting permission from him to detained a person, which is a blatant violation of the Jordanian laws and human rights.
(4) The increased number of capital punishment sentence, sentences for life imprisonment, and extended imprisonment sentence, especially sentences issued by the National Security Courts and which are based on confessions by the defendants which they claim were extracted from them by force or through torture and physical abuse.
(5) The absence of independent investigations in the claims of physical abuse and torture presented to the courts against those in charge of investigations within the security authorities. It is extremely rare to try any of these officials before a court of law, and when this happens, they either receive very light sentences or they are found innocent.
Thus we request the government to try any official who is accused of physically abusing, torturing or violating the human rights of any individual, before a Court of Law, and not the security department by which he is employed.
It is also very important that legislations be issued to ensure that anyone who is tortured or physically abused by a government official should receive an adequate compensation from the government, and from the perpetrator, in addition to punishing the perpetrator as per the laws for the Abolishment of Torture.
(6) Prisoners are detained for too long before they are presented before a court of law, sometimes for months and years, sometimes making the verdict irrelevant because it has come after so much time has passed.
(7) The reformation and rehabilitation centers are extremely crowded, as are the detention centers in the police stations where foreigners who violated residency laws are detained. Instead of deporting them immediately at the government’s expenses they are detained for weeks and months which costs the government money in addition to the cost of their deportation.
It is important that decision to withdraw the citizenship, passport, or family book, or cancel any of them, are not issued except by virtue of a judicial decision, and after giving the individual the right to defend his rights and present his statement, and forbid the security authorities from interfering in this matter according to their whims.
(9) Activate the Law to Prevent Fraud and Corruption, and present perpetrators before a court of law.
(10) The Freedom Of Movement and Residency
Administrative Authorities are still issuing mandatory house arrest decisions, and requiring individuals with previous violations of the law to report to the police station disregarding the current laws in this regard.
(11) The Rights To Contribute to the Organization Of Public Life and Work:
Officials continue to express their desire to negotiate with the representatives of political parties, civil society organization, and national and political personalities, in order to issue a modern Political Party Law and Election Law that is consistent with the wishes of the people, and amend the Public Assembly Law in the same manner.
By days and weeks and months go by and nothing happens.
What happened instead is that the cost of fuel rose drastically, and with it the cost of food, rent, estate, and clothes, and all the other basic necessities of the people, in an unprecedented manner, which pushed many below the line of poverty because the increase in the cost of living is not consistent with the increase in income.
It is worth mentioning here:
(a) It is important that a new Election Law be issued to ensure extensive national representation based on the pro rata of the population, and link the number of seats with the population, and make the governorate or large city one electoral district, in order to ensuring proper judicial supervision of elections.
(b) Issue a Political Party Law that is consistent with the request of the people, and the provisions of the statement issued by the National Political Parties , Professional Associations and the people.
(c) Cancel the Prevention of Crime Law, and forbid administrative detention irrespective of the reasons, and give the power to maintain safety and security to the Judicial authorities by virtue of a law that specifies the authority to detain individuals or place them under house arrest, or report to the police station, or any other similar measures.
(d) Enhance the independence of the Law and the Judiciary Authority by amending the pertinent law by making the Judiciary Commission in charge of appointing the Head of the Court Of Distinction, canceling the right of the Minister to nominate Judges, making the budget of the Judiciary Authority from the Judiciary Commissions, and making the Administrative Judiciary authority on two levels.
(e) Amend the Penalty Law with a provision that forbids torture, making the punishment of civil servants and security officers who violate the law the duty of civil courts, ensuring that the officials in the various security centers are also responsible for any proven cases of torture and physical abuse, and that anyone convicted of the crime of “torture and physical abuse” is punished irrelevant of how long this occurred with the right of the victim to an adequate compensation.
(f) Secure work for the people in all fields without exception, and take the necessary measures to provide the workers with health insurance including foreign workers, and free the activities of union labors and include all workers in the Social Security scheme.
(12) Human Rights Culture: The Organization is continuously undertaking activities to disseminate the Human Rights Culture among the people, and calls on them to participate in the Organization’s various activities, like:
(a) The Studies and Documentation Committee increased its number to 40 individuals, and issued several reports, It also issued the Arab Monitor Brochure several times throughout the year, and numerous studies and research.
(b) The External Relations Committee conducted a training course about the Human Rights Culture ay the Princess Basma Center in Madaba, in coordination with the Society for The Rehabilitation Of Women in Madaba. They visited the inmates in the Reformation and Rehabilitation Center who have passed the high school (Tawjihi) exams and presented them with gifts.
They also undertook several other activities and visits.
(c) The Training Committee conducted an Introductory Course in the field of Human Rights for the Members of the General Assembly, and a course for 17 trainers, and one about the rights of the child, in addition to other courses.
(d) The Women’s Committee in coordination with the Queen Zein Il Sharaf Center launched a campaign to ratify the Civil Status Law, in addition to conducting numerous workshops and visits.
Publically, the Arab Organization For Human Rights in Jordan participated in many activities locally, regionally and in Arab countries, and internationally, including participation in conferences and courses, and issuing statements regarding many issues that affect the life of the people.
The Organization also closely monitored the state of affairs in Iraq, and the activities of the occupying American forces there, especially the violations to the human rights for the Iraqi people, like random detentions which have affected tens of thousands of people, the insecurity that is prevalent, the shortage in food and medication, the prevalence of crime, disease, and corruption, and the way thousands are forced to flee the country.
The Organizations has issued many statement calling for the freedom of Iraq and putting a limit to the American illegal occupation of this country.
And in Palestine, the Israeli Zionist authorities continue to slaughter the Palestinian people, including women and children, while the Arabs and the International Community remains silent, limiting their reaction to “condemning these actions”. The Israeli Defense Army entered Gaza and destroyed homes, killed one thousand three hundred, and inured thirty thousand, if not more, and still the Arab world and the International Community remained unjustifiably silent!!!
The Organization submitted a memo to the Secretariat and The Union of Arab Lawyers requesting them to present the Zionist Leaders to the International Court of Justice since they are war criminals who committed genocide of the people of Gaza, a blatant violation of human rights that should be punished.
The Organization also called for the termination of the occupation and the release of the tens of thousands of Palestinians imprisoned by the state of Israel.
The Organization also followed up on what is happening in Sudan, especially Darfour, whereby the USA and some foreign countries took the opportunity of what is happening there to issue a warrant for the arrest of President Omar Al Bashir, which is interfering in Sudan’s internal affairs and is blatantly double-standards , since they have ignored the misery of the Palestinian people, and the people of Iraq, and have focused only on the suffering of the people of Darfour.
Internally, the Organization issued many statements regarding the strikes of the inmates in the various Reformation and Rehabilitation Centers nationwide due to their maltreatment, forbidding visitors, and other reasons.
As for the Publication Law this contains texts that allow the imprisonment of journalists, a fact highly condemned by the local society, including the professional association of journalists, which called on the authorities to amend this law. The Organization issued several statements regarding the increase in the cost of living, and ordered the government to decrease the cost of fuel, medication, and food in accordance to the standards of those with low income. It also called for an increase in the minimum wage especially for labourers and low level workers to allow them to face the various necessities of living.
The Organization also called upon the government to monitor the prices, especially the cost of food products and clothing for the poor, and housing rents which have risen dramatically.
The Organization also called upon the government to take the necessary measure to decrease detention periods and imprisonment without trial, and issue the necessary legislations for this purpose, making detention illegal after three days except in the cases of crimes. And enhance supervision of the courts, detention centers and prisons with the purpose of abolishing torture, maltreatment, and physical abuse of prisoners, and ensuring the respect of human rights.
The Arab Organization of Human Rights in Jordan, as it prepares this Report hopes that the authorities will pay attention to its content and attempt to eliminate all reasons for complaints, eradicate the violations against human rights and all the illegal activities referred to in this document.
The Organization is more than willing to cooperation with the government and all the authorities and experts in the field, and civil society organization to ensure a better future for everyone, and peace and stability in our country and the entire world.