Annual Report: Jordan 2010

May 28, 2010

Annual Report: Jordan 2010

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In September, however, the Court of Cassation set aside the life sentences imposed on eight men alleged to have been planning a terrorist attack in 2004 after concluding that their "confessions" had been coerced and were therefore invalid.

Freedom of expression, association and assembly

A new Societies Law came into force in September after it was ratified by the King. It increases government control over the legal registration, operation and activities of NGOs, provides for executive interference in their affairs and requires that they obtain official approval before they can receive funds from abroad.

Journalists and others remained liable to prosecution for "insulting" the King, the judiciary and religion.

  • Islam Samhan, a poet and journalist, was sentenced to one year's imprisonment and fined by the Amman Court of First Instance in June after he was convicted of insulting Islam and religious sentiment. He had been arrested in October 2008 and held for three or four days after he published a collection of his poems in which he was said to have used verses from the Qur'an. He was at liberty awaiting the outcome of an appeal.

Excessive use of force

The gendarmerie were accused of using excessive force to disperse a largely peaceful demonstration in al-Rabiah, Amman, on 9 January. Some 3,000 people had gathered to protest against Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip when they were forcibly dispersed, apparently without warning, by gendarmerie officers using batons, water cannon and tear gas. The Public Security Directorate said it would investigate, but no findings had been disclosed publicly by the end of the year.

Police were also accused of using excessive force when carrying out some arrests.

  • Fakhri Anani Kreishan died on 14 November after he was allegedly assaulted by a police officer two days earlier outside his home in Ma'an. He was reported to have fallen into a coma after a police officer hit him on the head with a baton before dragging him down some steps. An autopsy said the main cause of death was an injury to the head caused by a hard object. A police officer was charged with his murder on 17 November and referred to a police court.

Migrants' rights – domestic workers

Tens of thousands of migrant women domestic workers continued to face economic, physical and psychological abuse by employers and representatives of recruitment agencies. They were disproportionately more likely to commit or attempt suicide than others in Jordan. In March, al-Ghad newspaper reported an unsourced "official statistic" that 25 domestic workers had died in the first three months of 2009, 18 from suicide and seven as a result of illness. In October, the Labour Ministry announced that 14 Sri Lankan domestic workers had attempted suicide in 2009 and said this appeared to be linked to their work conditions.

In August, the authorities introduced new regulations under the Labour Law to regulate the working conditions of all domestic workers, including migrants. They prescribe maximum working hours, rights to holiday and sick leave, and domestic workers' entitlement to regular contact with their own families. Despite addressing important issues, however, the regulations are loosely worded and open to interpretation in certain respects and they fail to specify mechanisms for determining wages and so resolve long-standing problems related to nonpayment of wages or low wages. They also fail to provide effective safeguards against physical violence and sexual abuse by employers of domestic workers, the great majority of whom are women, and appear to place women at risk by requiring domestic workers to obtain their employer's permission before leaving their house.