Human Rights Watch reported that Jordanian authorities deported at least four Yemeni asylum seekers back to Yemen.
According to article 33 of the Convention relating to the International Status of Refugees, the deportation of asylum seekers is prohibited when the refugee’s “life or freedom would be threaten[ed] on account of his/her race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion”. The Convention against Torture further specifies that deportation is also prohibited when the refugee would be in danger of being subjected to torture. Jordan ratified the Convention against Torture but not the Convention relating to the International Status of Refugees. However, the principle of non-refoulement (the name given to the prohibition of deportation) has now become part of international customary international law. Therefore, all states, including Jordan, are bound by the principle of non-refoulement, whether or not they have ratified the treaties which provide for this principle.
Since January 2019, Jordan has had the policy to grant the asylum seeker status only to Syrian nationals. This in itself is problematic as scores of refugees from other risk countries are denied this status and the protection that goes with it. What is also problematic is that in the cases reported by Human Rights Watch, the Yemeni nationals already had the refugee status as they were registered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). When the refugees applied for working permits, their demands were denied, and they received a deportation order instead. This is in complete violation of the principle of non-refoulement.
Indeed, the situation in Yemen is dire. The war, which has been ongoing since 2014, has killed more than 18 000 civilians, out of 30 million Yemenis, 24 million are in need of some sort of assistance. The United Nations have called it the “worst humanitarian crisis in the world”. All sides of the conflicts are accused of severe war crimes including murdering civilians, enforced disappearances, torture, sexual violence and starvation. One of the refugees who had to go back to Yemen is afraid of being conscripted into the Houthi army.
The Amman Center for Human Rights Studies is strongly opposed to the deportation of asylum seekers. Although the report by Human Rights Watch only refers to Yemeni asylum seekers, the Center wishes to remind Jordan that the non-refoulement principle applies to asylum seekers of all nationalities, and not only to Syrian asylum seekers. Deportations orders against asylum seekers from Yemen but also from Palestine, Iraq, Libya, and other countries where refugees are at risks, are illegal under international law. The Center therefore calls on Jordan to stop deporting asylum seekers.