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Press Statement from the Working Group on Jordan at the Universal Periodic Review

Amman Center for Human Rights Studies

Press Statement on the Occasion of the Universal Periodic Review 4th Session- Working Group on the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan

 

11th February 2009

 

The Amman Center for Human Rights Studies, with support from the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), has been able to send a delegation to the 4th Working Group Session of the Universal Periodic Review in Switzerland.

 

ACHRS, in conjunction with the Arab Women’s Organisation and Arab Organisation for Human Rights (Jordan), submitted a report to the UPR, outlining human rights issues in Jordan. We would also like to thank other international organizations for submitting Stakeholder’s Reports, and drawing attention to human rights issues in Jordan. These included Reporters Sans Frontieres, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, International Commission of Jurists, Al-Karama for Human Rights and the European Centre for Law and Justice. Plus, we thank the National Center for Human Rights, Jordan for submitting their findings as well.

 

ACHRS acknowledges the good work being done by the Jordanian government to improve the civil rights situation in the Kingdom. With regards to the political rights, we hope that Jordan can make serious changes to laws that currently restrict public freedoms, such as the Society, Assembly, Election and Party Laws. We feel that the UPR represents an excellent opportunity for Jordan to receive advice and guidance as to how to continue this trend. ACHRS would like to highlight the following issues and to offer recommendations to the government of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, so that dignity, freedom and justice can be achieved for all.

 

1) To Reform the Law Governing Non-Governmental Organizations

 

In spite of a sustained lobbying campaign by a large number of Jordanian civil society organizations, supported by international organizations such as EMHRN and the EU Delegation in Jordan, 2008 saw the royal assent of the reformed Societies Act. This legislation placed increased restrictions on the activities of NGOs in Jordan, making it nearly impossible for many organizations to continue the valuable work with which they were previously engaged.

 

We accept that there must be some oversight on the activities of NGOs, but assert that the new law significantly inhibits freedom of association in Jordan. Indeed, to restrict societies before they are even formed is in violation of international standards of Freedom of Association

 

Therefore, we recommend that the government of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan:

 

  • Acknowledge the good work of NGOs in Jordan by working with them to ensure that the principles of Freedom of Association, Expression and Participation are enshrined in the legislation.
  • Amend the Societies Act to eliminate the need for prior registration of new organizations.
  • Retract all restrictions on permissible activities of NGOs
  • Establish fora with civil society, so that dialogue on these amendments can be exchanged

 

2) To Continue to Provide for the Rights of Women

 

2007 saw a positive development with regard to the limited rights of women. The final ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) saw the Government publish the Convention Official Gazette No. 4839 dated August 1, 2007. We also welcome the pledge by the government, announced earlier today by the Head of the Jordanian Delegation Dr. Moussa Burayzat, to withdraw the Jordan’s reservation of CEDAW Article 15/4. However, there remains some improvements and changes that should be made:

 

2008 saw a positive development, whereby a new law on domestic violence was ratified, but there is still the issue of ‘honour killings’ not being addressed by law. The perpetrators stand not as common criminals, but benefit from the “extraordinary circumstances” clause in the Penal Code (Article 98), allowing the accused to take the rôle of a ‘hero’ who defends the ‘honour’ of the family.

 

The law in Jordan does not currently allow a Jordanian women to confer her nationality onto a child with a father of a different nationality. This can be seen as a denial of rights to children and spouses, who may suffer discrimination in the provision of public services because of this.

 

Thus, we recommend that the government of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan:

 

1. Fully ratify CEDAW, and continue to withdraw all reservations.
2. The signing of the Additional Protocol of CEDAW.
3. Ensure the existence of a comprehensive law criminalizing all forms of violence against women, and to increase the number of ‘home shelters’ in Jordan for violated women.
4. Allow for Jordanian women to confer their nationality upon their children without exception.
5. Adjust the Personal Status Law to adhere to international conventions.

3) To Make Provisions for the Elimination of Torture

 

Whilst we accept that the Jordanian government is already taking steps to eliminate the presence of torture in prisons, there is more work to be done. We welcome the news that Jordan has a report ready to send to the CAT, and we urge them to submit this immediately.

 

There is currently no independent mechanism through which prisoners can make complaints of abuse, so it is difficult for instances of torture to be brought to light. The presence of such a body would promote transparency and openness across the penal system.

 

Jordan has, thus far, not allowed itself to be party to special measures, or permitted a visit from the Special Rapporteur on Torture. The Jordanian government has dismissed a recent report from this office as ‘imprecise.’ Such imprecision could have been overcome by allowing full and unfettered access to prisons and detainees for the Rapporteur.

 

We urge the Jordanian government to:

·         Sign the Optional Protocol on CAT.

·         Set up an independent mechanism to examine complaints

·         Allow itself to be party to Special Measures and visits from Special Rapporteurs so as to ensure adherence to International Standards.

·         Fully enforce the laws criminalizing torture, and ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice.

 

Finally, we call on Jordan to submit all outstanding reports to the relevant UN bodies as soon as possible. We are happy to learn that the Report to the Human Rights Council has now been lodged, in spite of the delay of 12 years. We hope that, in future, Jordan will adhere strictly to the deadlines for report submission imposed by UN instruments and bodies. Moreover, whilst we appreciate the quality of the oral report that was delivered by the Jordanian officials, we were disappointed that their report was not submitted in sufficient time to allow for circulation, analysis or translation into the other 5 UN working languages.  

 

As a civil society organization of good reputation and with Special Consultative Status with UN ECOSOC, ACHRS would be happy to provide support to the government in meeting any recommendations that might result from this session.

 

For more information on the above or on the Amman Center, please contact Dr. Nizam Assaf, +962 6 46 55045, achrs@achrs.org

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