Jordan Society for Human Rights
Annual Report on the State of
Human Rights in Jordan During 2004
“… Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous actions which have outraged the conscience of Mankind, and the advent of a world, in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want, has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people…
… Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the law …”
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Jordan Society for Human Rights herewith submits its annual report about “Human Rights in Jordan During 2004” to all Jordanians and to the three branches of government, the Legislative, Executive and the Judiciary, without which the respect and promotion of human rights cannot be guaranteed. The compilation and issuance of such a report falls within the purview of an organization specialized in the defense of human rights. Such a report constitutes an important event for all citizens and for the Jordanian society and its social, cultural and political elites. This is so because it represents-with its results, a “thermometer/barometer” by which we can measure, year after year, the positive/negative level of state of human rights in Jordan. The objective and accurate evaluation of such a sensitive and vitally important issue like human rights and freedom in our country cannot be left to the whims of any government official, political parties, union or journalist or even to any international or regional human rights organization.
While compiling this report, we have encountered difficult times because a number of hot and successive issues regarding human rights were still unfolding. By this we mean the crisis between the Government and professional Associations over the governments’ proposed draft law in this regard.
This report, which is the fruit of a grueling and hard work, has relied on different sources. It has attempted to monitor the situation that is closest to the reality as was the case in 2004. We also endeavored, when ever possible, to extend the necessary suggestions. The Society will be indebted to every citizen, commission or group who gives us his/their relevant comments.
Jordan Society for Human Rights (JSHR)
Overview of the State of Human Rights in Jordan and the Influencing Factors
A plethora of many internal and external factors have intermingled to affect the status of human rights in Jordan during 2004. To start with, the tense situation in Iraq continued to cast its shadow on Jordan, the region and the world at large. Scores of Jordanians were killed, arrested or abducted. On the other side of the River Jordan, the atrocities and war crimes committed by Israel –including, but not restricted to assassination of leaders and the building of the racist separation wall have had negative effect on public freedoms in the country. In addition, the standard of living for the majority of people had deteriorated as a result of the increase in fuel prices and the increase in sales tax from 13% to 16% in April. Moreover, the prices of basic commodities have later rocketed up (1). As a result, the economic and social rights of fixed income strata were negatively affected.
The coming to power of a new government headed by Mr. Faisal Al-Fayez in the autumn of 2003 can be considered as the actual starting point for human rights evaluation in 2004. As with other previous governments, a large segment of the public opinion welcomed his Government and pinned high hopes on it. Al-Fayez Government embraced political development as one of its priorities and a special ministry was set up for this purpose. Intensive public meetings with numerous civil societies and wide sectors of the public helped to uplift morale and hopes of a qualitative step in public freedoms and human rights. Poverty, unemployment and combating corruption are also paramount issues among wide sectors of Jordanians, according to several surveys, public opinion polls, researches and studies conducted in the last few years.
But optimism and high hopes waned quickly and a wide degree of pessimism, if not despair, soon prevailed. Hopes for a genuine democratic transformation were dashed. The new and much publicized slogan of “management development” represented a clear and semi-official retreat from the previously embraced slogan of “political development” which the government gave it priority, especially during the first nine months of its tenure. The repeated “crises” with the Islamists and the events of 2005 (the violent confrontation between the Government and the Professional Associations) and later the Government’s desire to instate the “one-man vote” in the new associations’ draft law came to stress the fact that “albeit governments come and go, but the policy remains unchanged” and heavy-handed, and considers any widening of public freedom as a threat to its “security” – in its wide meaning – which is considered the guiding core of internal policy (2).
In spite of some limited and positive developments (which will be detailed later) human rights violations continued through 2004 and became even more wide spread than in preceding years. One of these violations drew wide-spread media and public attention especially after some official parties admitted it. By this we mean the torture scandal in “Al Jouway’deh” prison, which resulted in the death of one of its inmates.
Arrests continued through 2004 and included more than 300 citizens among which were ex-ministers, deputies, party members, journalists, engineers and public activists who were apprehended and questioned in a manner incommensurate with their positions. Scores of detainees accused of “terrorism” are confined to clandestine detention facility according to international human rights organizations and international media. However, the government-in a brief statement- denied that (3). On a different level, the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) suspended its visits to the detainees in the prison of the General Security Directorate after the security service denied them the right to visit some detainees.
Despite the fact that the authorities condomned some public meetings and marches, especially after the assassination of a number of Palestinian leaders in Gaza but the fact remains that restrictions on political, media, union and political liberties remained. The right to organize was also restricted as the Government declined to license the National Union for the Jordanian Youth, Jordan Society for Citizens Rights, X-Ray Technicians Union, and the Union of government schools Teachers. The Government spared no pain to force the House of Deputies to adopt the Public Meetings Law in February. This law imposes additional restrictions on the right to organize public meetings. Few months later, the Government tried to pass the “Voluntary Societies’ Law” to bridle these societies even further and to “legalize” additional restrictions on its activity. Civil society organizations rejected this law overwhelmingly .Of late, the government agreed to a draft law regarding the ‘one-person vote’ to be imposed on the Professional Associations. Initial analysis of this law points to the Governments’ desire to tame and control these associations, a dream which many previous governments tried unsuccessfully to achieve. The current government hopes to be able to pass it.
On the parliamentary level, our parliamentarians must be given some credit for a limited number of positive resolutions and measures that boost democracy and human rights. Among these were demanding the Government to resort to elections when forming municipal councils, and the ratification of some laws like Civil Law, Right of Access to Information Law and to follow up the case of Jordanian detainees in Iraq and the ability to visit Al Jouway’deh prison. It is worth noting here, however, that the general performance of the parliamentarians is weak, limited and, in many cases, even disappointing according to wide sectors of the society, including public, political, media and union sectors, as well as some parliamentarians (4). The Jordanian parliament is the first parliament in the world to vote in favor of increasing prices and taxes that already place heavy burdens on already-burdened citizens (5). The present House of Deputies ratified the Public Meeting Law which represents a real setback for freedoms. Performance of some parliamentarians and blocs was characterized by severe fluctuation from one extreme to the other, especially when major issues were being discussed. This is largely due to the pressure that was exerted upon them from above. The substantial customs’ exempts, given to deputies, was meant to be as bribery for their acquiescence. The negative performance of parliamentarians was also reflected on the meetings of certain ad hoc committees whose decisions were often adopted without attaining the necessary legal quorum. In other cases, discussions of some draft laws were restricted to very few members. Moreover, the Government and in many instances, ignored the House of Deputies and many questions addressed to some members of the Government were disregarded. For example, the Government ignored the parliamentarians’ demand to abrogate its license given to various Iraqi parties allowing them to carry out their electoral propaganda campaigns in Jordan at the beginning of 2005. On the whole, the public impression is that the Lower House is a predominantly pro-Government, albeit some of its members were prone to be influenced by the man-on-the-street.
* * *
Conflicting signals continued to be issued regarding the cultural, social and economic rights of citizens. In some cases, the negative indicators were prevalent. For the second successive year, Jordan ranks 90th in the human development scale on the international level. Problems of poverty and unemployment are still exacerbating despite Government assurances to the contrary. Numerous violations that were included in previous reports continued in 2004. This is most evident in the health, education, housing, nutrition, services and the environment fields. New forms of violations surfaced while others became worse. The same applies to women and children’s rights, especially the use of force against them. Despite slight improvements, a wide sector of citizens still believe that justice in society is extremely low, particularly in relation to the distribution of wealth, and that part of the country’s economic, social and political problems are attributed to the inadequacy of efforts exerted to combat rampant corruption, favoritism and bribery. These problems must be tackled seriously in order to eliminate feelings of inequality. alienation and marginalization and to achieve an acceptable level of transparency.
The Positive aspects:
The overall picture looks bleak (documented details appear later in this report). However, it should not hide the positive developments on the human rights side. Some positive aspects-albeit not all, are highly important or commensurate with our ambitions, though not all of them are of paramount importance or face up to the level of challenges. Among those positive developments are:-
1- Torture in Jordanian jails has been finally addressed. For decades, officials categorically denied such practices. Officials who practiced torture were sentenced lightly (6). Pressure on the Government will continue in order to ensure more effective supervision on prisons and to end torture and degrading treatment of detainees.
2- Jordan succeeded in reducing child mortality rates among the under-five year olds due to the improvements in services provided for new infants and pregnant women. All children under six years are now medically insured.
3- The Jordan Child Rights’ draft law had been completed and will be submitted to the Parliament for endorsement. Should this law be passed (although serious problems are expected) it will be a great accomplishment for human rights in Jordan.
4- The compilation of draft laws relating to the media. Among those are the Right to Access Information draft Law, and the new Press and Publication Law which calls for lifting censorship and not-imprisoning journalists for matters that concern their profession. Moreover, licenses for daily, weekly newspapers, and for new radio and TV stations have been issued.
5- Tens of demonstrations and public rallies had been organized. Wide sectors of Jordanians expressed their feelings in numerous national and social occasions (especially in the aftermath of Israeli assassinations, solidarity with Jordanian detainees in Israeli jails, solidarity with the Palestinian and Iraqi people, and protesting the erection of the racist separation wall…)
6- The announcement by the Minister of Interior that no citizen will be administratively apprehended (if previously declared innocent) except for cases of murder and rape.
7- Legal, political and diplomatic efforts were deployed to face Israel’s building of the separation wall. These efforts culminated in the historical verdict of the International Court of Justice in The Hague and later the resolutions of the General Assembly of the United Nations, which demand Israel to demolish the wall and to compensate Palestinians who were negatively affected by it. (7).
8- The decision taken by the Ministry of Environment not to use fossil fuel in the Jordan Cement factories came to ward off environmental hazards expected. Also, the Government backtracked from building a hospital in the Scandinavian Forest in deference to Jordan Environment Society.
9- The issuance of residence permits (devoid of the national number) for the citizens of Gaza in order to facilitate their daily life in the country.
10- Human Rights awareness building campaigns were undertaken by non-governmental human rights organizations and other unions and national societies. In this context, the adoption of human rights matrix in the Jordanian schools curricula is considered a positive step provided it is done in a creative and correct way.
11- A Royal Decree has been issued, endorsing the decision to adopt the Arab Human Rights Charter and the signing of the International Convention for Fighting Corruption, as well as the Arab Agreement for Environmental Vocational Courts, and has been published in the official gazette
12-The resolution canceling the Ministry of Culture was rescinded and the first cultural conference was held. The conference decisions and recommendations reflected demands of the Jordanian intellectuals sector.
Despite their relative importance, the above steps are not up to the expectations of the Jordanians who are still awaiting important decisions on major issues. Such major issues include the amendment of Jordan’s Election and Political Parties Law in a way that allows for a sound political and partisan activity as a prelude to genuine democracy (8). One of the major decisions expected is terminating the unjustified interference of the security apparatus in the political, partisan, educational, union and societal activities. The recent Royal call for “promoting public participation” gives a glimpse of hope to overcome this situation. This. however, hinges on its translation into practices that lift a lot of restrictions on public freedoms, and reconsider a lot of legislations organizing these freedoms on the one hand, and the practices of citizens and civil society organizations on the other. In sum, any judgment on a progress in the field of human rights depends on the extent reached by the “democratic process” which can help in achieving progress in the people’s social, economic and political life.
Following is a detailed account of the state of human rights in Jordan, in as much as the information available to Jordan Society for Human Rights allows:
First: Civil and Political Rights:
* Right to Life:
Around (32) violations of this basic right were monitored, three of which took place in Iraq. Late 2004, the corpses of 3 Jordanian truck drivers were found in Ramadi. Another Jordanian citizen-Abdul Ilah Abdul Razzak Al Dahabi- was killed during an American raid against Iraqi positions. Corporal Ahmed Al-Ali from the Jordanian Peace Corps in Kosovo was killed after a quarrel-as it seems, with some American soldiers while debating Iraq. In Jordan, the major part (19 cases) were of women killed by their next of kin for reasons related to family honor. This is equivalent to a monthly average rate of 1.5 crimes per month. Amendments introduced to article 340 of the Penal Code have not brought the desired results in society yet. This necessitates the search for additional means to curb such violations of this basic right.
Late last April, four armed men were killed by police inside a home in Al-Hashimi Al-Shamali neighborhood. They were accused of being members of a militant Islamic group (Al-Tawheed Brigades). During the year, two of “Al-Qaeda” suspects were sentenced to death.
The biggest scandal of all, which caused a lot of clamor, was the case of Abdullah Mashaqba who was tortured to death in Al Jouway’deh prison in early September. When the National Center for Human Rights received a complaint from the deceased relatives, the Center sent a committee to investigate the matter and found that the detainee has actually been tortured to death.
Finally, early in August, Mr. Naim Ghassan Shiha checked in Al Basheer Hospital for treatment. Having not found any places there, he left it to the University of Jordan Hospital. He kept waiting for medical help, which regretfully did not come soon enough, so he died because of negligence and bureaucratic procedures. It is not known what punitive measures-if any- were taken. It is worth noting that similar cases were monitored in the last few years. Jordan Society for Human Rights had alerted the Ministry of Health to investigate such cases and to put an end to such practices. Yet, no response had been received from the officials.
* Right to Freedom and Personal Safety
This basic and intrinsic right was exposed to gross and various violations which affected Jordanians both inside and outside the country. Methods other than arrests and apprehension for long periods were used. Tens and even hundreds of Jordanians were either abducted, disappeared or arrested. What is even worse is that many were tortured and even killed in Iraq. Information available speaks of around 500 Jordanian detainees in prisons outside Jordan (9). Other information tells of a clandestine detention center in Jordan under American supervision. Some reports speak of untold suffering of Jordanian detainees in other countries, especially in Israeli jails.
Here at home, some reports put the number of citizens who were arrested at different times at 300 (10). Hardly a month passed without any arrests made on different levels. The list includes ex-ministers, deputies, party leaders (as in February, June and September), journalists, engineers, Islamists, party members, students, preachers and mosques’ orators.
No change was noticed on the traditional manner of arrests. The rights of citizens as stipulated for in the Constitution, laws and international human rights agreements are blatantly disregarded. Intelligence forces repeatedly encroached these rights and unheeded numerous maltreatment by human rights organizations. Many such maltreatment cases were reported in writing but remained unanswered.
Until very recently, it was believed that only the maltreatment of Jordanian civil societies and human rights organizations was ignored. However, the experience of former human rights activists has proved that the Security forces do not give weight even to a state institution such as the National Center for Human Rights . Letters sent by this Centre regarding complaints filed by families of detainees fell on deaf ears (11).
Jordan Society for Human Rights and other organizations received information saying that many detainees were not confronted with any charges, albeit months have passed ever since they were arrested. In some cases, relatives are even forbidden from visiting their beloved ones, and in other cases confessions were often extracted by force/ torture (12). In other extreme cases, interrogators often resorted to torture to extract confessions instead of resorting to legal methods of analysis, smartness and modern evidence-gathering techniques. If sufficient, credible, and incriminating information were collected, then the defendant will have no other alternative but to confess voluntarily.
Following are examples of these cases :
* Yousef Abdul Rahman Qassim was apprehended on 17-4-2004 by the Security Forces. His family left no stone unturned to know who apprehended him, but to no avail. The National Center for Human Rights confirmed to his family that Yousef was apprehended on the order of the State Security Court since almost 7 months ago. Yousef’s brother checked with this Court, which informed him that his brother had no record in its files, which means that he was apprehended by a different agency. Not knowing the whereabouts of their son, his family faced a precarious and uneasy position. The legality of what happened to Yousef and how far this conforms with the Constitution and human rights was seriously questioned.
* Mr. Mohammed Hamdan from Zarka was arrested 7 months ago, during which time his family sought his release or, otherwise, his indictment and trial if found guilty. He was arrested in Syria on his way back from Iraq and Syrian authorities handed him over to Jordan.
* Early April, Intelligence Forces arrested Mr. Samih Al-Jawabra from Rusaifa. Until end June he was not charged of any offense and his family was barred from visiting him.
* A social society in Abu Nsair neighborhood filed a complaint against a Syrian youth who was caught molesting one of its employees. Two officers rushed to the place Monday noon 23-8-2004 and arrested the young, hand cuffed him and beat him up until he began to bleed. When the two officers were told that his treatment contravenes the Jordanian laws and human rights (since the man was hand-cuffed and hence unable to fight back or even defend himself), the two officers replied carelessly why then did you file a complaint against him? This is not the proper time to talk about human rights!
Many arrests were made in the wake of a demonstration in “Al-Wihdat” (Amman) on March 26. The Islamic Deputy Tayseer A-Fitiany was beaten and accused of many charges, none of which was substantiated. The case was closed without prosecuting him. During June, August and September, leading members of the Islamic Action Front (IAF) and Muslim Brotherhood were arrested. In addition, 40 preachers and mosque orators were arrested on charges of violating the Preachment and Guidance Law. Most of them were later released.
In the meantime, numerous individual arrests for many individuals were made on the basis of their views and convictions or political activity or even “suspicion”. Jordan Society for Human Rights sent tens of letters to Government officials, especially the Prime Minister regarding such citizens. To mention but some names: Abdul Kareem Abdul Qader Mosleh Idris, Abdul Hadi Mohammed Saber and his brother Zakaria Mohammed Saber (Iraqis), Ali Al Saeed, Omran Sudqi Al-Jayyousi, Khair Eddin Tawfik Mohammed Dalkamoni, Mohammed Jamal Hamdan Hamdan, Abdul Hameed Izzat Mahmoud Yaseen, Laith Tarek Al-Tell, Ahmed Mahmoud Oweideh, Akef Fayez Naif Mahafza, Moustafa Abdul Kareem Rayyan, Mohammed George Dababneh, Abdul Kareem Awwad Salim Bargash, Zeid Adnan Abdulaziz, Ibrahim Hijazi, Osama Abu Hazeem , Mahmoud Mohammed Abu Abed,. Engineer Sameer Al-Qudah was arrested on 6-5-2004 after he recited a poem at Al-Ahlieh University of Amman, which, as security sources claim, exposes some Arab rulers. Also, Ali Hattar, Riyad Nawaisa-two political activists-were arrested for a short period after delivering lectures. However, they were later released on bail. Legal proceedings against them are under way.
On the night of 22-10-2004, hundreds of heavily-armed security forces attacked the town of Hosban. This operation intimidated the inhabitants and caused a lot of damage as the forces broke in the houses while their occupants were sleeping. These arbitrary and over-exaggerated intelligence measures resulted in the arrest of Hamid Dahamsheh, the Imam of Um Burak Mosque near Husban. Another citizen, Mohammed Abdul Hameed gave himself in voluntarily. Jordan Society for Human Rights sent a message to the Prime Minister and Public Freedom and Human Rights Committee about the incident on 21-11-2004 and demanded that all those responsible be brought to justice for abuse of authority, violation of the rights of Husban citizens to personal security (a right embodied in the Constitution) and intimidating the citizens. The Society also demanded an apology to the inhabitants of Husban, a compensation for damage done, and the release of all detainees.
Mid November, the Intelligence Forces set free tens of Islamists after months of detention. No reasons were given for their detention. Some are still under custody and are being chased (13).
According to other information, there are around 431 Jordanian nationals in American prisons in Iraq. Some were even tortured in the notorious “Abu Ghraib” prison. Among them, Osama Mahmoud Jum’a Abu Siam and his number is A1 157 906, a computer student in Al-Mansour College in Baghdad, Amjad Adnan Al-Chalabi holding number A1 157 907 who studies medical lab technology in Al-Mustansirieh University, Ala’ Abdul Raof Tawfik Khadir holding number A1 157 910 who is an employee in the Ministry of Education who was sent to Baghdad by the Civil Service Commission to get his Ph.D in statistics from Al Mustansirieh University and the fourth is Ja’afer Salim Mohammed Al-Ayid holding number A1 158 43 (14).
The number of Jordanian detainees in American jails in Iraq has caused a row between the Public Liberties and Citizens’ Rights Committee in the Lower House, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Whereas the Committee puts the number of detainees at around 1000 according to complaints it received from relatives, the Ministry insists that the number is around 37. Later, the Committee accused the Ministry of “dereliction”, or failure to intervene for the release of the Jordanian detainees (15). Families of tens of Jordanian detainees and others had appealed to the Government to employ its good offices to secure their release (16). Except for few cases, the release of abducted Jordanians was usually secured after giving in to the demands of abductors, despite the fact that relations between Jordan and the American and Iraqi sides were often described as excellent.
On a different front, no progress was made regarding Jordanian detainees in Israeli jails. Detainees’ relatives accuse the Jordanian Government of dereliction while sources close to the Government claim otherwise. Lack of progress in this issue is attributed to Israel’s intransigence and its provocative disregard to the demands of the Government and the detainees’ relatives. The unconditional return of the Jordanian Ambassador to Tel Aviv, without even demanding the release of the 25 Jordanian detainees and information about the remaining 15, is both bizarre and calls to question.
Later developments attest to the fact that the Government’s decision in this regard was wrong , thus prompting the detainees to resume their hunger strike and to implore international organizations to pressure the Israeli Government into releasing them.
Finally, Jordan’s file of detainees and missing persons abroad includes more names than was previously conceived. (17) Though following up on this file is but one of many tasks followed up by Jordan Society for Human Rights and other sister organizations, it has become increasingly necessary to set up a “National Committee for the Jordanian Detainees Abroad”. Its purview should include: coordinating and intensifying efforts to glean information and to address their problem (missing persons included), in collaboration with relevant Government parties to secure their prompt release.
* Right to a Fair Trial
The Society’s last year report stressed that amendments introduced to the Penal Code, through the Temporary Law number 54 for 2001 constitutes an additional violation for the right to a fair trial by encompassing crimes committed in accordance with these amendments within the legal jurisdiction of the State Security Court. Revised articles relating to “terrorism” M 147/1 are shrouded with vagueness and loosely phrased, thus brooking fro different explanations. Moreover, the list of crimes that can be dubbed as “terrorist”, and that are punishable by a death or life imprisonment sentences, has been widened to include new anti-state political crimes (M 149/1). Accordingly, human rights organizations demanded the abrogation these amendments (18).
Citing these amendments in this report is of vital importance in view of two dangerous developments that took place during 2004, the implications of which are likely to continue for years to come:
1- The Authorities concerned announced that it had discovered several groups planning to carry out terrorist operations in the country. As much as that news was relieving in the sense that it demonstrated the authorities’ readiness and alertness, they, nonetheless, cause some fear of serious human rights violations, especially the right to a fair trial. Subversive acts are usually surrounded by an exceptional political and media halos to deter all those who want to question them in an objective and balanced manner. In addition, legal restrictions prohibiting any such discussion abound.
Accordingly, these disclosures seem to be grossly exaggerated to some foreign and skeptical specialized foreign agencies, for political motives (19).
One example of such questioning is: How could primitively prepared chemical weapons kill 80,000 citizens? Experts refute this assumption because once chemical weapons are released into the air, their effectiveness reduces dramatically (20).
This report is mainly concerned with issues related to human rights. It is, therefore, not their responsibility, neither is it demanded of them to discuss technical and intelligence issues. The main development this report wishes to dwell on is the tempo of increase in discovering what is usually called “terrorist cells” in 2004 (in the broad sense of the word as mentioned in the Penal Code). This phenomenon necessitates an increased awareness and investigation on the part of human rights organizations to assure that the right to a fair trial is respected and guaranteed. This is so because the jurisdiction of the State Security Court, which looks into such cases, is contested. Moreover, it lacks the necessary conditions that a fair and just trial requires. Previous trials by this Court attest to that.
2- The second serious fact, which interferes with the first one, is the ‘permanent partnership’ between Jordan and the United States which has been disclosed in the American ‘war on terrorism’ documents. A report in one of Jordan’s daily newspapers said that America had succeeded in imposing its own definition and understanding of terrorism on the whole world. This definition draws no line between indiscriminate acts of terror and national resistance. The said report reviews in full details the amendments to laws and the measures taken by the Jordanian Government to comply with the Security Council Resolution number 1373, which was issued in the wake of the events of September 11, 2001 (21).
By virtue of this “permanent partnership”, some media channels and numerous international organizations talk about a clandestine detention center in Jordan under direct American supervision. This centre presumably contains tens or, maybe, hundreds of Jordanians and non-Jordanians, who are labeled as “terrorists” (22). On 3-2-2004, Jordan Society for Human Rights sent a letter to the Prime Minister asking him “to reveal the truth about this subject”. Regretfully no answer has been received yet. Few months later, the Minister of the Interior, in answer to a question by one of the deputies, has denied the presence of such a center. In May, the official spokeswoman of the Government denied that without giving any details. What compounded the concern of human rights organizations is what Jordan’s Ambassador to Washington was quoted as saying. The Ambassador was quoted as saying that the US is putting pressures on Jordan in order not to prosecute American citizens before the International Criminal Court in case any American, accused of a crime that falls within its jurisdiction, was found in Jordan.
Jordan is among the countries that ratified the said Court’s Articles of Association (23). Lately, Jordan signed a bilateral agreement with the US inhibiting Jordan from handing over any American citizen that the Court might arraign.
In light of the above, it has become extremely important to reconsider the multitude of temporary laws and instructions that were issued few years ago in line with the loose definition of terrorism, especially the Penal Code (articles 141, 143, 144, 145, 147/2, 159. It has become evident after Sep. 11, 2001, that many governments are using these events as a pretext to widen human rights violations, which many regional and international human rights organizations had warned against. These include International Federation for Human Rights, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Arab Organization for Human Rights, the United Nations Human Rights Committee and the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network. Human Rights Organizations organized various seminars to study this phenomenon, the most important of which was held in Istanbul in September 2002.
The requirements for respect of human rights and soothing local and international public opinion call on the Jordanian Government to respond to the accusation (with the highest degree of transparency) regarding the presence of an American clandestine detention center (some say 12) on the Jordanian soil. Its previous brief denial did not dispel the anguish of international human rights organizations nor the public opinion. In case these accusations come out to be true, the Jordanian Government must see to it that this/these center/centers are closed and to prosecute Jordanian inmates in local courts and to hand over other inmates each to his respective country.
This requires the intervention of the United Nation’s Security Council as it has to do with sovereignty besides the probability of gross human rights violations.
As far as the right to a fair trial is concerned, the Society detected the following:
1- The clear admission of the Ministry of Interior in mid August that the prosecution of some inmates was delayed. Reports of the National Center for Human Rights had confirmed that tens of detainees were apprehended for more than five months-sometimes a year- without their release even on bail (24). In addition, some administrative governors apprehend persons who have already served their terms (25).
2- Information speaks of confessions extracted under pressure as is evident in the assassination of the American diplomat “Foley” and the absence of lawyers during interrogation.
3- During the trial of the officers and police members accused of torturing Abdullah Mashaqba to death, some witnesses backtracked on their statements under pressure. The Court prosecuting the officers refused more than once to allow the presence of the representative of the National Center for Human Rights to attend the court’s sessions (Al-Sabeel 19-10-2004).
4- During the States’ Security Court’s trial of a number of detainees apprehended during Ma’an’s events at the beginning of 2005, two witnesses were apprehended: Omar Awad Al Bazaigheh and Ahmed Dahi Abu Hilala. Both denied what came in their testimony and claimed that they have signed it under pressure and torture. They both certified that they were blindfolded and forced to sign. The defense attorney, Mr. Hikmat Rawashdeh, raised the subject in a previous session (Al Sabeel 1-2-2005).
5- Many complaints were received about how some people were subpoenaed. Sticking labels on the doors of the accused has often been misused and many of the citizens who live abroad lost their property (because actually they were not notified and verdicts were issued in absentia). (26)
6- The number of citizens arraigned to the judicial departments is astronomical by all standards. This number, according to reliable sources, reached 122667 in half a year (Al-Dustour daily 15-7-2004) or roughly a quarter of a million annually. Compared to the population, this figure is deemed very high and bears numerous indications. Among such indications is the deteriorating economic situation (Ex: checks issued without balance/bouncing checks). But this also means that prosecution measures take a long time and hence the rights of citizens are delayed as a result, and as the Arabic dictum says “belated justice means persisting injustice”.
Many Jordanian officials often claim that “Jordan’s Judiciary abides by international standards of trials” (Ex: Al-Rai daily 6-9-2004); though several other cases reported to human rights organizations indicate that efforts are still needed to honor this commitment.
* Prisons’ Condition and Treatment of Prisoners
The year 2004 was in deed the “Prisons’ Year” because legal, media, popular, parliamentary and official attention was focused on them, especially after the unveiling of the appalling conditions that prevail in many” correction and rehabilitation centers” (27). After 37 years of introducing this term, our correction centers are nothing but punitive jails in which bad, inhuman and degrading treatment is often practiced. The case of Abdullah Al Mashaqba is a live example.
The string of reports issued by the National Center for Human Rights (28) contradicts the official claim about the good condition of jails. On the other hand, these reports corroborate the numerous warnings, reports and complaints that were previously sent by human rights organizations to Jordanian officials during the last few years. Recent events attest to the fact that grave human rights violations took place in a number of prisons (29). Various memos from parliamentarians, political parties and unions tried to draw the Government’s attention to the deteriorating conditions in Jordanian jails, especially after the strike of Jouway’deh’s inmates in August 2004.
Some of the major points that were mentioned in the reports of the National Center for Human Rights regarding the conditions in jails include the small-size buildings, inadequacy of service facilities, poor definition of the nature, size or quality of facilities available, the non-existence of a definite criterion for the absorption capacity of prisons. As far as the condition of inmates is concerned, the report stressed the following: The prevalence of illiteracy among inmates, absence of legal assistance, inconsistent social and sanitary care and the absence of psychological care, in addition to over-crowdedness (30) and the spread of contagious diseases like mange and other skin diseases.
Prisoners suffer from legal apprehension as “hundreds are apprehended by courts and state prosecutors. Some have been apprehended for months pending their trial and without even investigating their cases by the competent courts and/or without taking any measures regarding their cases”. Administrative apprehension for prolonged periods ordered administrative governors by virtue of the authorities vested in them “ demonstrates the inequity in the use of the powers vested in them”. The greater part of inmates does not receive any kind of training or rehabilitation (with the exception of Swaqa and Qafqafa prisons). And the few who are employed there to docertain jobs receive “very low wages” (500-750 fils for a 6-8 hr. day/work). The most salient aspect is the maltreatment and torture of prisoners. The second report mentioned that the National Center for Human Rights received more than 100 complaints against forensic, counterfeit and drug combating police whereas they claimed to have been beaten to extract information from them.
When transported to other centers, their hands are cuffed behind their backs. In addition to humiliation and harshness, this method exacerbates the already deteriorating health of some of the inmates, especially those who suffer from chest or spinal cord problems. The last report revealed that “some prisons’ managements are not even aware of the existence of international standards for the treatment of prisoners!”. Above all, drugs and homosexuality are widespread.
This is only a part of what was mentioned in the said reports. The visits of prisons were usually done in the presence of “prisons’ managers and a number of officers and prison guards”. One of the reports admits that “sudden and previously undeclared visits are more useful for verification” (31). There are other important apprehension centers that the National Centre’s team knows nothing about, such as the prisons of the General Intelligence Directorate, police centers, forensic department and juvenile centers. The International Committee of the Red Cross discontinued its visits to the General Intelligence Directorate prison because it was not permitted to visit some detainees. By the way, it was not the first time (Al Sabeel 20-7-2004).
Officials claim that the “new security strategy” did not single out the correction facilities. According to the new strategy, inmates will be classified and accordingly separated from each others according to their cases. In addition, measures were taken to alleviate the problem of crowdedness in Al Jwaided prison. Also plans are under way to build a new prison “East of Muwakkar” (Al-Rai 18-8-2004). A Ministerial Committee entrusted with the study of correction centres recommended that Juwaida prison be enlarged and that dangerous inmates be separated from others. The Committee also recommended an increase in its staff and the strict observance of, and adherence to, the proper legal procedures in punishment of inmates. It also recommended an increase in meals, (Al-Rai 21-10-2004).
These measures are not proportional to the dangerous level of conditions that were recently unveiled. The tense and exaggerated reaction of the Government regarding the issuance of Al Jwaideh prison report on 9-9-2004, and its failure to respond to the Human Rights Organization’s demand to take part in the investigation of the death of Mashaqba, the exoneration of the 11 policemen who caused the death-under torture-of the inmate, despite the forensic doctor’s report, let alone other statements – all this does not bode well in respect of genuine improvements in the conditions of jails.
Accordingly, what is required legally, publicly, and Legislatively is to leave the file of prisons open and to discuss its various aspects in order to formulate a comprehensive and substantial prisons’ reforms policy, based on strict adherence to the United Nations Code regarding the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, which was issued in 1955.
Moreover, the Executive branch of the Government is required to activate Jordan’s commitment to the Anti-Torture and degrading treatment of prisoners’ agreement , which Jordan has ratified, especially the implementation of the recommendation of the Committee emanating from the Agreement, which were submitted to the Government in 1995, roughly ten years ago.
Jordan Society for Human Rights calls upon the Jordanian Government to derive the correct lessons from the reports of the National Center for Human Rights and to improve the present conditions of prisons by adopting the following suggestions:
1- To reconsider the buildings, service facilities, operation systems and all instructions with a view to strictly adhering to the provisions of the Standard Rule for the Minimum Treatment of Prisoners code mentioned above.
2- To prepare a summary of the code in question and to place it in all prisons and detention centers so that it can be easily seen by all inmates. The code must also be circulated to all prisons’ managements for their observance. Training courses must be held to all officers and police men to acquaint them with its contents. The same applies to the Anti Torture Agreement> In this respect, Jordan Society for Human Rights stands ready to participate in these efforts because they fall within it purview.
3- The name of any prisoner who is rushed to hospital must be registered in the ordinary patients’ register or the emergency register. Registration of the names of prisoners who are rushed to hospital for treatment of post-torture bruises is not practiced now (the case of Mohannad Dababneh/Zarka from the Society’s files).
4-Orders for the prohibition of physical or psychological torture must be made public and distributed to all prisons and detention centers. All concerned parties must be reminded of the punitive measures in case of non-compliance.
5- Amend some existing laws and enact new ones to enable prisoners to identify their tormentors in order to bring them to justice. The right for compensation must be guaranteed in accordance with the Agreement. In all cases, the need arises for a new law that clearly and unequivocally prohibits all forms of torture.
6- Activate and increase supervision of all prisons periodically.
7- Supervision of prisons must be the responsibility of the Ministry of Justice as in all democratic countries.
8- Ask the Jordanian Medial Association to ask its members not to cooperate with any prison authority that intends to employ the medical profession as a cover up of torture or human rights abuse.
* Right to Freedom of Expression, Opinion and Press, and the Impartation of Information
The Higher Media Council, in its capacity as a resource commission, has exerted strenuous efforts to widen, legalize and guarantee the freedom of expression and access to information (32). Positive trends have been noticed in this respect. Censor ship was lifted and the practice of imprisoning journalists for professional reasons has been discontinued (33). Licenses for new media outlets, owned by the private sector (34) radio and TV stations and daily and weekly publications have been issued. In spite of these positive developments, the freedom of expression, journalism and access to and impartation of information still suffers from the same various restrictions that were mentioned in the Society’s previous reports (35). Moreover, some employees in this field even complain that the condition now is even worse after the Ministry of Information was dissolved. The Ministry was the only governmental parameter. Instead of one parameter, we have now three, consultative, security and governmental, as a symposium held at the end of the year (36) concluded. One of the editors-in-chief of a daily newspaper who attended that symposium demanded that direct and indirect intervention in the policy of the newspapers be discontinued (37).
In his brief study on “The Issue of Freedoms in Jordanian Journalism” Dr. Fahd Al-Fanek -a columnist at AlRai- gives examples of how the editor-in chief of the daily newspaper in which he writes a daily column tries to interfere by omitting or amending some expressions, after which the article may be published, but of course after losing its original flavour because such changes might sometimes give meaning contrary to what was intended. Dr. Al-Fanek said that essays might be banned for a variety of reasons. Some essays might be considered critical of the Government and hence outrage the Prime Minister who always claim to welcome criticism, or they might not be in line with established government policies, such as the support which our Government exhibited to Iraq’s interim government, or their theme might be considered highly sensitive, especially if it touches upon the Jordanian Palestinian relationship. None of these reasons is professional (38). Dr. Al-Fanek said that he is in possession of a file containing a number of stifled essays which shows the extent of this policy. It is worth noting here, that Dr. Al-Fanek is considered to be a liberal journalist not known to be a member of the opposition or any political party. In many cases, his essays chime in with various government policies.
Another writer, in his characterization of the crisis of freedom in the Jordanian media, said that “The Government desires to see the press vision identical to its own vision, but won’t admit that this deprives the press of any credibility among the public”. (Ibrahim Gharaibeh – Al Ghad 6-10-2004). Fahd Al-Rimawi, another writer belonging to the opposition and the editor-in-chief of Al Majd weekly accused the Government of muzzling the press, repressing political opposition and “spreading a culture of fear” in the society (Al-Majd 6-4-2004). Al Rimawi was arrested for a short period in May but was later released on bail. One issue of Al-Majd was forbidden from circulation without any legal basis in Sep. 20-2004.
A number of journalists confirmed to the Minister of Justice early September that journalists face a lot of red lines, especially when broaching legal issues. In addition, feelings of fear and anxiety form an obstacle and a barrier that hinders their work and inhibits them from publishing the truth (Al-Ghad 2-9-2004). When debating some journalists from different media outlets, they all agree that self-imposed censorship is one of their major problems. Fear from the boss, the editor-in-chief, or the law or fear of crossing some red lines forces them to betray their own convictions and to be highly selective in quoting information in order to avoid trouble (Essay written by Hilmi Al-Asmar “Petit Treasons” Addustour 27-4-2004).
This leads us to cite examples of a different form of violations during 2004. By this we mean the arrest of journalists and political activists because of their political leanings. As mentioned earlier, Mr. Fahd Al-Rimawi was arrested because of his political views in addition to Mr. Shakir Al-Johari (Al Ghad 9-12-2004). Fayez Obeibat Al-Ghad correspondent in Jarash was also apprehended for seven hours at the beginning of November 2004. Three other journalists from the same newspaper were forbidden to cover some Government activities. Both Riyadh Al-Nawayseh and engineer Ali Hattar were arrested because of two political lectures (they were later released on bail and are pending prosecution). Other arrests also included a number of leaders of the Islamic Action Front and the Islamic Brotherhood, like Dr. Mohammad Abu Faris, Dr. Homam Said, Dr. Ibrahim Zaid Al-Kilani and Ahmed Kafawin.
In addition, around 40 of mosques’ orators were arrested and were charged with violating the Preachment and Guidance Law (April and September).
At the beginning of June, the Ministry of Islamic Waqf escalated its measures against the lyricist Abu Al-Haija after he was transferred from Rusaifa to Al-Tafila (Al Sabeel 15-6-2004). After several harassment cases, the President of Shura Council of the Islamic Action Front Dr. Abdul Latif Arabiyat called for the freedom of the word in Friday’s noon prayer (Al Ghad 14-8-2004). Due to Government intervention, Friday harangues were severely criticized by prayers (Al Ghad 20-8-2004).
In 2004, writers and various intellectuals suffered from many restrictions on the freedom of expression. In early June, a public poll which coincided with the convening of the cultural conference showed that a third of the intellectuals whose views were solicited don’t believe that Jordanian intellectuals can express their views freely. 8.39% said they can express their views clearly to some extent. One fourth of the participants said they can express their views freely (Al-Rai 1-6-2004). As an example, the poet Amina Al-Adwan said that intellectuals still lack the freedom of expression. What I say now is nothing but a repetition of what I said 30 years ago (Al-Arab Al-Yom 24-6-2004).
Academics also suffer from similar restrictions. A regional symposium about academic freedoms held in Amman last summer showed the size of such restrictions and the narrow margin of academic freedom in Jordanian universities.
It is worth referring here to the results of a poll, which the Center for Strategic Studies of the University of Jordan conducts periodically. According to the results of the last poll 80% of the sample interviewed said that they cannot criticize the government publicly due to their fear of retaliatory measures against them (Al Ghad 19-10-2004).
The youth sector and university students feel that fear stands in the way between them and the free expression of their views. “We are afraid because we will be held accountable” students of the University of Jordan said in a recent poll (Al-Arab Al-Yawm 19-10-2004). The youth feel that they are monitored whenever they access an Islamic websites especially “Jihad websites”. According to a report published in one of Jordan’s dailies “there are incidents and certain cases that attest to the fact that some Islamic or Jihad websites are being monitored”. Some students even say that security forces arrested them while viewing some Jihad sites and other sites that call for the opposition of normalization of relations with Israel (Al Sabeel 12-10-2004).
Opposition political parties as well as associations suffer from restrictions on the freedom of expression. Numerous memos were submitted to his Majesty the King and to the Prime Minister, and many statements demanding freedom of expression and lifting of all controls on public freedoms were issued (39).
It is crystal clear now that restrictions, controls and harassments imposed on the freedom of expression aim to protect Government policies and officials from criticism which might endanger such policies. The security forces consider themselves responsible for controlling “illegal thoughts and views” (40). Until very recently, this
was thought to be the sole responsibility of the Publications Directorate only.
What the security official said reflects exactly the Government’s established policy in this respect. Some other official parties which are concerned with freedom of the press and expression have contrary views. In order for the freedom of expression to flourish and reflect positive social, cultural and political developments, the Higher Media Council had prepared a valuable document entitled “A View of Jordanian Media Policy”, which can truly be considered as an initial program of what should be done in order to get out of the present deadlock. Here are some excerpts: “Jordanian citizens must participate in formulating a policy for our audio-visual media programmes, through the creation of councils for this purpose. This explicitly means that social and political forces in the country must be given a chance to express their views through proper media outlets (radio,, TV network and Petra News Agency). These outlets must be independent and run by representative councils that can preserve their independence and neutrality, thus promoting their credibility (41).
Jordanian human rights organizations, especially Jordan Society for Human Rights and various other civil society organizations have previously submitted various tangible suggestions to unfetter the freedom of expression and to develop all media outlets. Successive governments unheeded these suggestions because they simply want to impose their one-sided views on the conscience and thinking of Jordanians and to continue to control the press and deprive it of its meaningful role in monitoring the performance of the three branches of government, to defend citizens’ rights and freedoms and to help develop the cultural and political awareness in the society.
* The Right to Peaceful Assembly
Jordanians were able to practice this right partially during 2004. The Parliaments’ ratification of the Public Meetings Law number 45 for 2001 imposed new restrictions on this right. Furthermore, the Parliament is currently discussing the Welfare Development Societies’ Draft Law. If ratified, this Law will further encroach the citizens’ rights to peaceful assembly.
The country had seen tens of demonstrations and public meetings to demonstrate against the American-led war on Iraq and the assassination of Sheikh Yassin and, two weeks later, his successor Abdul Aziz Rantisi in the spring of 2004. The country has also seen many marches against the separation wall which Israel is building despite the International Court of Justice historical ruling to remove it. In September 2004, various marches were organized in solidarity with Palestinian detainees in Israeli jails who went on hunger strike. Public unrest regarding some social demands was also noticed.
We can easily note that the Government condones demonstrations and public meetings, especially when major or hot events are unfolding because it is cognizant that public reaction towards them runs high and cannot be stopped. This is evident in the case of Israel’s rampant atrocities against the Palestinians. While condoning solidarity, marches and demonstrations in the first half of the year, the Government, however, blocked a number of other demonstrations and public meetings in the second half. Three pro- Intifada public festivals were not permitted in early October.
The second observance concerns the Government’s attitude towards licensing these festivals as if they were an inevitable evil. The Governor, when licensing a public activity, puts such harsh conditions as stipulating that no speeches be given give if the meeting is to take place in a public place with film projection as happened in the activity of 12/10 against Israel’s racist wall. In some other cases, force has been used against unionists and deputies similar to what happened at the beginning of 2005 in front of the Professional Associations Complex.
A new method had lately been followed, under which the authorities resort to ‘unknown elements ‘to disperse a gathering or a demonstration similar to what happened on 12-2-2005 in front of the Parliament premises. No evidence, however, is available to confirm if this has been done by any official party. Intransigent measures are often disguised under the slogan of law enforcement or the need not to mix between political activity and professional activity. The essence of all this is a craving on the part of the Government to nip in the bud any view that does not dovetail with its policies.
In order to tighten its grip on the right of citizens to public assembly, the Government exerted its utmost efforts to ratify Law number 45 for 2001 when it was debated in Parliament. When this law was being discussed by the Legal Committee at the beginning of February, the Government sent three of its Ministers (Ministers of Interior, Justice and Political Development) to make sure that no substantial amendments to the law-which Ali Abu-Al-Ragheb’s Government had passed as a temporary law-are introduced. This law imposes more restrictions on the right to hold public meetings than the 1953 law (42).
To further tighten its grip on the right to set up societies, the Government issued the Welfare Development Societies’ draft Law. The present regretful state of many voluntary societies was taken by the Ministry of Social Development as a pretext to embody a number of restrictions in the new law in order to control civil societies. Many societies voiced rejection of the new law and demanded substantial amendments to some of its articles (43).
The Society has recorded the following violations for the right to peaceful assembly and the right to establish peaceful societies:
1- The Government refused to license an association for government Teachers for fear of politicizing the Association, according to the justification given by the Minister of Education (44).
2- Ministry of Interior refused licensing the National Union for the Jordanian Youth.
3- Security forces, on various occasions, searched the headquarters of some political parties, thus prompting the parties to send a memo to the Prime Minister to that effect.
4- The Ministry of Interior refused to license “The Jordanian Society for Citizens Rights” under the pretext that similar societies are there.
5- X-ray technicians were denied the right to form a union of their own.
6- The security forces stormed the Professional Associations Complex on the night of 16-1-2005 to remove some national slogans. One such slogan read “Freedom to Jordanian Detainees in Israeli Jails”. Later, three symposiums were not allowed, thus causing social and political friction with Government authorities. The relations were later exacerbated due to the insistence of the Government to submit to the Parliament a new draft law organizing the Professional Associations, based on the “one-person one vote”.
The licensing in early October 2004 of the “Jordan Society for Countering Capitalist Globalization” was one positive development.
* Right to Public Participation; Democracy and Good Governance
Although no national elections were held in 2004, the focus on major public issues continued. Since late 2003, the Government of Faisal Al-Fayez stressed the concept of ‘Political Development’ and gave it a priority on its agenda. The Prime Minister, and the Minister of Political Development held intensive meetings with a number of public sectors and civil society organizations to assess their views about the subject. Meetings continued till the spring of 2004. Under pressure from various public sectors, the Ministry of Political Development submitted a “Strategy for Political Development” which a renowned commentator described as a “framework devoid of any meaningful content and full of circumlocutory expressions” (45).
On the other hand, political parties, unions, and human rights’ organizations had a common denominator of this concept. To them, to start a meaningful and a productive process of political development, the Government should first amend all laws restricting political democratic activity, and in particular the Political Parties’ and Elections Laws.
Nothing was heard from the Government ever since. Whether or not Government officials availed from the views and recommendations which they heard remains to be seen. Obviously, the priority of political development slipped into second place, and since May 2004 talk about the priority of Management Development began to be heard. To avoid embarrassment after this “sudden change”, Government officials repeatedly stressed their continued and unwavering support for political development as a priority.
This was not the only contradiction during the first few months of its tenure. The much publicized Management Development failed dismally. In order to reform the public sector the Government gave priority in Government appointments to “efficiency, accountability, performance, productivity and experience”, the new batch of “appointments” were restricted and to “relatives and sons in-laws” of ministers without any regard to the above criteria!! The concept of “Management Development” fell “before it could even take off” (46).
The contradiction between what the Government says and what it actually does raises wide spread public feelings of frustration. The remaining prestige of the Government was completely eroded. The ministerial reshuffle of last November clearly showed that sons of ex-ministers and relatives still have priority over others. Ordinary citizens were now convinced that slogans are one thing, and realistic application is completely another. The incompatibility between slogans and the daily practices of Government officials became all the more evident. The Prime Minister, in an exclusive interview with Jordan TV on the evening of 26-11-2004, explicitly said that “people are used not to trust governments”!
The “lack of confidence” among the public are evident in two major fields: countering corruption and the right to public freedoms and human rights.
As far as fighting corruption is concerned, a wide sector of the public still considers Government policies in this regard as “shy”. Instead of countering the underlying causes of corruption, the Government counters its “results” (47). In the last few years, except for the “banking overdrafts scandal” in which an ex-head of the General Intelligence Directorate and others were indicted (48), citizens do not feel tangible results for countering corruption (49). On the contrary, financial and managerial corruption has become rampant to the degree that it began to cause real alarm and started to threaten public money and the economy (50). Examples of corruption cases in 2004 abound. To mention but few; Magnesia, Al Safi Salt, Phosphates, Potash, the computers of the Ministry of Education, “Enhanced Productivity Program (ERADA)”, Al-Balqa Applied University, Agricultural Credit Corporation, Ports’ Corporation…etc. In spite of a secret session between the Government and the Lower House, the “Kuwaiti oil grant” remains a “riddle” which no one is yet able to unravel (51).
Other files of corruption and legal violations of some officials are not disclosed due to their complexity and the lack of transparent laws that allows for investigation.
The Audit Bureau mentioned numerous instances of fraud, forgery, embezzlement and manipulation of public money (52).
Corruption is not restricted to public money only. Other forms of corruption include nepotism, ack of equal opportunity among citizens and the prevalence of personal interests, placing the right man in the wrong place (or otherwise), lack of accountability and the destruction of the scope of development and productivity. These are dangerous forms of corruption that intersect with bribery, embezzlement and theft…etc
We suggest that effective 2005, the Government marks the International Anti-Corruption Day which falls on 9 December. This Day was ignored in previous years. We suggest that the Government marks this day in a novel way and not by nebulous statements and the reference of using the “iron fist”. We suggest that two weeks in advance of the Day, the Government announces that it welcomes any file regarding corruption from any citizen that takes place on that specific day (9/12). Receipt of such files must be done by a national committee consisting of government and non-government members. The files must be later referred for investigation. Should the Government turn down our suggestion, we will refer it to the Jordanian branch of Transparency International or to any other interested national organizations.
The other suggestion was submitted by one of the journalists. It calls upon the Government to ask the Parliament to draft a law prohibiting mediation (wasta) and punishes any one who practices it. (Jamil Nimri, Al-Arab Al-Yom, 17-12-2004)
As far as public freedoms and human rights are concerned, the current Government followed the policy of previous Governments and continued to clamp down on these freedoms and to violate numerous citizens’ rights. This report has focused, in previous paragraphs, on this point. In the coming few paragraphs, however, it will focus on the economic, social and cultural rights.
The record of the current Government in the citizens’ memory is not savory at all. It is the Government that ratcheted up oil prices which resulted in the increase of the prices of other basic commodities. It also increased the sales tax from 13% to 16% beginning April 2004 against a meager increase in wages. It is also the same Government that clashed with the Professional Associations and other political forces in the country several times in 2004 and 2005. It is the Government under whose tenure the facts about torture and ill treatment in prisons were unveiled. It is the same Government that will scale up prices again in 2005. Citizens are convinced now that actual and tangible achievements and not public relations and media campaigns are the only criteria by which governments will be judged.
At the end of 2004, various opinions believe that only a modicum of the democratic margin which began to unfold in 1989 has remained. Practically, the much touted democracy has actually become a tool to clamp down on freedoms and limit the practice of rights that are guaranteed in the Constitution. Some political and unionist forces go as far as describing the situation as a ‘legalized form of marshal law’. This retreat can easily be discerned not only locally but also “abroad” and on a large scale too.
Second: Cultural, Social and Economic Rights
The year 2004 conflicting signs regarding two of the most basic problem which afflict most Jordanians, namely poverty and unemployment. This also reflects on the standard of living of most Jordanians despite the fact that the economy presumably grew by a high 7%. As a whole, social, cultural and economic rights continued to retreat in spite of some limited positive steps which we deem early to judge the results thereof. (These positive steps include the free medical insurance of children under 6, pre-marriage medical exams and submitting the draft law of child’s rights to the Legislative branch). When monitoring the salient developments of these rights in detail, it becomes evident that the problems addressed in the previous reports are still unresolved and are even getting worse in some areas. This includes deterioration in health and educational services, the continued deterioration of the environment, food and the encroachment on labor rights. In addition, family violence especially against women and children increased, youth problems exacerbated in spite of the special strategies on Youth, Women and Children.
Jordan continued to rank 90th in the list of countries published by the UN Human Development Report for 2004. This is the same position as last year (53). At the end of September 2004, results of a poll published showed the same figures, thus confirming this, and in some aspects the same poll showed an actual retreat in the economic situation of major segments of Jordanians (54).
At the end of August, the Government announced that a study sponsored by the International Bank showed a drop in the poverty rate in the country from 21,3 % in 1997 to 14,2 % in 2002 (55) The results of this study provoked an intensive debate, and has been contested by some observers because it adopted new and different criteria to measure poverty. The findings of this study contradict the results of other studies that were conducted about the same subject (56). Some, however, attribute the reduction to the “increased amount of assistance extended to the poor and to the creation of new jobs” (57), while others claimed that the figures might be fudged and claim that the percentage of poverty actually increased rather than decreased, in accordance with the criteria followed by the World Bank to define the poverty rate (58).
The Government convened a “National Conference on Reduction of Poverty and Unemployment” at the beginning of September. The Conference is the sixth in a string of similar conferences held since the late eighties. Despite the passing of many decisions and recommendations, composition of committees, drawing up plans and programmes, and reserving funds to address these two problems, which have been causing a lot of concern to a large number of Jordanians for more than a decade and a half, the problem still persists According to some specialists, the Governments’ concern is only seasonal the main purpose of which was to cover government’s inability to “alleviate them” (59).
As much as these figures caused a lot of skepticism and astonishment among the public and other economic and political circles, the announcement late November that the rate of unemployment decreased from 8.14% to 5.12% caused conflicting reactions (60). Discussions of unemployment never ceased because wide sectors of Jordanians are still suffering from it and accurate statistics about it are lacking. Explanations of the causes of this phenomenon are also different. (61) Some say it is simply an administrative problem, citing that the number of foreign laborers in the country stands at 350 thousands while unemployed Jordanians do not exceed 200 thousands. However, the number of Jordanians working abroad exceeds 400 thousands! Some consider the problem to be structural, which means that the number of labourers is not consistent with the market needs. Finally, many attribute the continuation and exacerbation of unemployment to weak growth rates of the national economy and its inability to create new employment opportunities at a time when annual entrants to the Jordanian labour market exceed 50 thousands, a small part of which are lucky enough to find jobs (62).
Wide sectors of citizens who are neither poor nor unemployed suffer from the continuous rise in the cost of living and inflation (63). Inflation-riddled incomes forced these sectors to live a hard, austere and insecure life (64). The increase in the price of fuel and the sales tax in April, and the resulting rise in prices of hundreds of related commodities in the market added additional burdens for almost half of the Jordanians. According to the Center for Human Resources Development figures, 52% of Jordan’s labour force gets a monthly pay of around JD 100-200. 14% get a monthly pay of JD 100. This means that 66% of the labor force receive a monthly pay of around JD 200 (66).
The year 2004 saw the end of the economic correction program, imposed on Jordan by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) under the slogan of “Goodwill Letters”.
Various analyses and confessions by Government officials confirmed what many economists, political unions and social forces had warned against. The programs, in fact, caused substantial damage to the standard of living of wide sectors of the population, mainly the middle and lower middle classes. After 15 years of the correction program, Jordan’s indebtedness is still high (more than JD 5 billion in 2004). “Development and other plans during the past few years were simply slogans that were never implemented according to Dr. Marwan Muasher, Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister in charge of monitoring of Government Performance (67).
Jordanian officials never tire of saying that caring for the rights of Jordanians comes at the top of their priorities. On the ground, however, facts tell a different story. Even the ratification of human rights’ agreements, like the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights’ and others, and the adherence to the recommendations of its committees is nothing but a sham as a Jordanian expert in the field of International Human Rights Agreement confirms (68).
Media hype and inundating people with verbal promises about development, and the development of services cannot hide the tragic situation of wide sectors of the population and vast areas of the country. Regretfully, the disparity between promises and actual achievements had widened considerably during 2004.
Citizens sent thousands of letters to the Royal Court asking for jobs, free medical treatment, financial assistance for needy students or poor families and individuals (69). Although these acts are highly appreciated, but they can only temporarily help a fraction of the needy citizens. Such acts of charity cannot solve the deeply entrenched problems of poverty and unemployment and the deterioration in the living standards of citizens on the national level. These problems are in principle human rights-related problems and, as such, need to be addressed because they need political and social solutions, which are the responsibility of the Executive branch of the Government.
Following is a review of the state of the most salient cultural, social and economic rights as much as the Jordanian Society for Human Rights could monitor during the year:-
* Right to Health
Two positive developments in this field must be given credit: The pre-marriage medical check up which went into effect mid year and the issuance of a Royal decree early July. . The first development is of vital importance because it limits the spread of diseases like thalassemia and other hereditary diseases. It also limits the possibility of giving birth to children suffering from congenital mental and physical disabilities due to intermarriages The second development is the issuance of a Royal Decree early July, under which all children under 6 became eligible for free medical care in Government hospitals and Ministry of Health centers.
A third positive and equally important development should be given credit in this respect. It is the Health Insurance Law, which went into effect in September. As proclaimed, the law will allow the poor segments of society to join the medical insurance system and hence have access to “better and more comprehensive medical services”. According to detailed initial reports, things do not seem that rosy, since the Ministry of Health scaled up prices several times. It seem likely that health services will soon be “privatized” through agreements with private companies (70). In addition, procedures are becoming more complex and bureaucratic. In the final analysis, some people say that “what the Ministry gives in its left hand it takes by its right hand.” Some even fear that proper medical care might become restricted to the privileged few.
The negative aspects and problems that confront the health situation offer evidence that the above steps, positive as they rally are , are not sufficient. The Government has still a long way to go in this regard. Statistics show that 38% of all mortalities are heart-related. 32% of citizens suffer from blood pressure, 14% suffer from diabetes, 46% suffer from high level of cholesterol, 27% smoke, and 32% of pregnant women and 20% of children suffer from anemia, let alone the increase in the cancer cases(71). In addition, health centers and Government hospitals are over stretched. Serious loopholes abound in these hospitals and centers. Diseases often appear among citizens in certain areas, which indicate the low level of preventive medicine. Some diseases appeared during 2004 as happened in previous years.
In April, German measles spread among school students and more than 1211 cases were reported and total numbers might be even higher. The resurgence of this disease (usually once every 5-6 years) necessitates the provision of sufficient quantities of vaccines. Mumps is also wide spread among students due to the lack of vaccines.
At the end of the year, typhoid spread in Thahrat Al Raml village in Deir Allah/Jordan Valley. Its spread drew widespread attention due to the serious shortcomings of various Government agencies. 80 cases of typhoid were reported till mid December. A Government report submitted to the Lower House blamed the spread of the disease on the low standard of hygiene in the area, foreign labor and contaminated water resources (72).
What was “not mentioned in the report”, however, is how Government officials dealt with the subject. The spread of the disease was first “denied”, then recriminations among various officials started to appear and each party started to blame it on the other. After the discovery of additional 65 cases, the Government was compelled to admit the seriousness of the situation. To sum up, the disease spread in the area due to the lack of interest in environmental health and development (73).
At the beginning of 2005, various instances of leakage of poisonous gases and bromine from the bromine factory in the Jordan Valley were reported. 10 employees were rushed to hospital for inhaling the poisonous gases.
On a different level, pressure on hospitals and health centers continued and various cases of shortcomings were reported. This is yet another proof of the Government’s non-compliance with the demands of civil societies and public opinion. Many of these demands were repeated over the last few years with no response (74).
Hospitals that are over pressured are found in Zarqa, Jerash, Mafraq, Ain Al Basha and Sahab. The Minister of Health stressed the need for a new hospital in Zarqa (Al-Rai 14-5-2004). Inhabitants of Zarqa hope to have their new hospital soon. The need also arises for a new hospital in Mafraq. Many hospitals still lack the necessary and trained medical cadre and basic medical equipment. Here are some Examples:
– Zarqa hospital lacks specialists in chest diseases, physiotherapy and rheumatism.
– There is no specialist doctor in the kidney unit in Maan’s government hospital. Dialysis machines are out dated and/or not functioning.
– Health centers in the north of Balqa lack numerous services, mainly trained cadres and medical equipments. (75)
– The health sector in the southern part of the Jordan Valley lacks basic services. Many doctors desert the hospitals due to their miserable conditions. At the beginning of the year, the refrigerator, where dead bodies are kept, was out of order for two months which compounds the ordeal of the local inhabitants in case of death. During a tour to the southern Shoneh District, the Minister of Health admitted that medical services in the area are insufficient (Al-Arab Al-Yom 7-2-2004).
– Ghor Al Safi Hospital in the Jordan Valley needs a CT scan and endoscope machines. The health center in Al-Mazra’a has neither electricity nor an orthodontic clinic.
– Al-Iman Hospital in Ajloun needs both doctors and technicians.
– Medical care services in Mafraq lack specialized doctors, medicine and dental clinics.
– Al-Fuhais psychiatric center lacks psychiatrists. Time allotted to patients is not sufficient.
– Many citizens have turned to cheaper forms of treatment ( herbal medicine) due the high prices of drugs.
In addition, shortage in drug supplies and/or the lack of drugs in hospitals and health centers is on the increase (76).
Prices of various drugs have increased due to the appreciation of the Euro. It is estimated that roughly a million citizens have been affected by this increase. Moreover, many Government and private hospitals require a down payment (few hundred dinars) as an insurance before any patient can be admitted, many deaths have been reported as a result. This practice violates the rules of the medial profession and can be easily solved by simply signing an undertaking to pay all expenses after treatment (77).
* Right to Work
Labor rights continued to deteriorate in 2004 and the unjust articles in the Labor Law were not amended. Minimum wages remained unchanged. Regretfully, the Government did not address basic labour rights. This report discussed the problem of unemployment in the previous paragraphs. Other aspects related to the right to work will now be addressed. Labourers in the Qualified Industrial Zones (QIZ) suffer from low wages and poor living conditions, especially after the repeated increase in prices. As a result, many labourers and employees organized numerous sit-downs and marches and made their living and union demands clear to the authorities (78). Thousands of labourers lost their jobs or their right to proper compensation due to the privatization of some establishments (79).
Demands for an increase in the minimum pay escalated by labour unions, deputies, political parties and social societies, and even by liberal economists who were never known to sympathize with labourers or their rights!
The Secretary General of the General Federation of Labour Unions Mr. Mazen Al-Ma’ayta had repeatedly called for an increase in the minimum pay and an amendment of the retirement package. The Textiles Union asked the Minister of Labor to raise the minimum wages to JD 145-150, especially “after the Government increased the sales tax from 13 to 16% beginning April”. The World Bank, in one of its reports about Jordan, cited these figures as the poverty line. Deputy Ali Abul Sukkar demanded that the minimum pay be raised to JD 150. The liberal economist Dr. Fahd Al-Fanek said that “JD 80 is not realistic any more” and must be increased to make up for the rise in cost of living over the last eight years. He added that “the abrogation of minimum pay is better than keeping it” (81).
In reality, wages are gradually wearing off due to the incessant price hikes. Prices are expected to continue rising through the coming year too. The minimum rights of labourers expected include an immediate rise in the minimum wages of labourers commensurate with the rise in prices and taxes. Linking wages to the price index is a welcome idea that should be adopted soon by labour unions and other social forces that are hurt from the present situation. This idea gains more grounds after the Government had repeatedly said that no increase in wages is expected during 2005 and that subvention of oil prices will soon be lifted gradually (Al Arab Al-Yom 7-12-2004). On a different level, and in the light of the continuous price rise, the need arises for reinstating the Ministry of Supply to monitor prices which are spinning out of control. Minimum wages, meager as they are, are not even respected by employers in the QIZ.
Some workers are paid between JD40-60/month (Addustour 12-4-2004). Some female teachers are paid JD 50/month (Al-Arab Al-Yom 30-11-2004). On a different level, occupational accidents are steadily increasing, thus indicating shortages in safety measures. Rights of tens of thousands of laborers are “lost” or “trespassed” such as medical insurance, annual paid vacations and annual increments, especially those working in the agricultural sector or small commercial establishments.
Jordanian labourers aspire to enjoy full medical insurance that extends after retirement. Recent Government statements that it will study the possibility of introducing “insurance against unemployment” are highly welcome.
Labourers and their unions demand the abrogation or amendment of article (31) of the Labor Law regarding arbitrary dismissal of laborers because of restructuring of companies. In accordance with this article, thousands of laborers have been fired in the last few years. Labour unions in Jordan suffer from lack of democratic practices. This was evident in the conference of the General Federation of Labour Unions, which was held last summer. A memo submitted to the Minister of Labour by five labour unions detailed the financial and administrative corruption and the abuse of authority that afflict the Union (Al-Ahali 31-1-2004).
Finally, we call upon the Government to ratify all international agreements relating to occupational safety, especially Agreement number 155.
* Right to Education
Old problems still persist and new additional problems were detected. Those include the leakage of Tawjihi Examination questions, which caused a row, in addition to the serious moral and financial damage to the educational system and the increased malfunctioning of school computers and their poor maintenance at a time when officials put increased emphasis on information technology. Pressure on Government schools mounted as 30 thousand students moved from private to public schools due to high tuition fees.
On a different level, numerous areas are still without schools and/or appropriate schools. In some villages, schools are located far from residential areas. Schools also suffer from over crowdedness, overtime teaching and inappropriate school buildings. Some buildings or walls of buildings are rickety or liable to fall (82). Other schools suffer from lack of teachers. Parents of poor students even complain of the high prices of school books (83).
Sons of non-Jordanian citizens (especially Iraqis) are not allowed to join government schools, contrary to international agreements (84). The Government insisted on its position not to license the Government Schools Teachers syndicate, which is a constitutional right for them.
* The Right to a Clean Environment
The Government backtracked from two previous decisions which helped to protect the environment or at least not to further contaminate it. Aspects of negligence of, and damage to, the environment which were reported in previous years continued through 2004. New environment-contaminating works were registered such as the admission of Iraqi junks to Jordan. It is worth noting here that the protection of the environment is the concern of all citizens.
The two decisions which the Government backtracked from are:
First: The Ministry of Environment’s decision to discontinue the usage of fossil oil in the Cement Factories in Fuhais. This decision came as a result of a 4-year long struggle by the citizens of Mahis and Fuhais, supported by civil societies due to their detrimental effects on agriculture and the environment as a whole.
Second: The Government backtracked from its previous decision to build a new hospital in the “Scandinavian Forest” (in Balqa). It should be noted here that Jordan is one of the world’s poorest countries in forests. During the last four decades, subsequent governments raised the slogan “Towards a Green Jordan in 2000”. This ambitious slogan remained until 2004 a slogan.
Despite the presence of the Ministry of Environment, environmental problems in the country are exacerbating. The most serious problems are:
* The Dimona Reactor and Nuclear Radiation: Israeli nuclear scientist Mordechai Vanunu has caused an environmental and political storm in Jordan by alleging that the 40 year-old Dimona nuclear reactor leaks nuclear radiation into southern Jordan. The Jordanian government says there is no truth in the claim but nevertheless has requested an independent radiological examination by the International Atomic Energy Agency. One of Jordan’s top environmentalists however, asserted that the Dimona Reactor is an impending danger on man and environment and that the measures taken do not down play their effects. (85) Another Israeli scientist had a similar conclusion when he said that the “dangers of Dimona on Jordan are the same dangers on Tel-Aviv” (Al-Ghad 6-10-2004).
On a different level, Iraqi doctors said that “nuclear radiation raises the percentage of cancer among the inhabitants of the Jordanian-Iraqi borders” (Al-Ghad 28-11-2004).
* The Iraqi Junk: Despite the warnings of Jordan’s Environment Society, the Government permitted-within certain conditions- tens of trucks loaded with junk to cross the borders into Jordan. (Al-Gad 19-8-2004 + Al-Shahid 8-9-2004 and Deputy Dr. Abdul Rahim Malhas statements). The Government justified its decision by saying that the junk will help the iron industry in the country (recycling).
* Environmental Contamination of the Zarqa streamt: Studies show that the central district of Jordan is the worst contaminated (86) and that 50% of the pollution is found in Zarqa and Rusaifa. Despite numerous calls, the problem persisted, causing untold damage to both the inhabitants and the whole area (87).
* The Spread of Quarries and Crushers: The spread of quarries and crushers amidst the inhabitants or in inappropriate places like Ain Pasha and Southern Shoneh is an environmental hazard.
* Medical Waste: No solutions have been reached to dispose of them or to sort them according to their type.
* Environmental Problems in the Jordan Valley: This problem was referred to in the Organization’s previous reports. However, the problem still persists.
* Right to Housing
The main point here is that the state has relinquished its responsibility in providing reasonable housing for limited income categories through various housing projects, which the country used to accomplish during the eighties and nineties. The responsibility of this vital sector has shifted to investment companies and banks (88). The rise in the prices of land put another drag on fixed income categories and deprived them of the opportunity to own their own houses. Social workers have noticed that growing numbers of Jordanians are either abstaining from marriage or marry later in life due to the rise in house rent and the increased costs of marriage.
Another aspect in this field is the fraudulence in building specifications which caused hundreds of families to become homeless due to the dangerous situation of their new apartments (Al-Rai 20-2-2005).
Fear of implementing Article 5 of the Landlords and Tenants Law number 30 for 2000 is expected to cause a social shock. Many anticipate serious problems when the time comes to renew the lease contracts and the big rise expected in rents when the law comes into effect on 31-12-2010. Many public sectors had appealed to the Lower House to reconsider this law, especially article (5) and to make evaacuation subject to legal injunction as in the previous law. The Organization hopes that reconsideration of the above law takes place soonest possible.
Recent surveys and the general consensus which took place in October showed that the majority of houses in Jordan consists of apartments.
* Right to Food
Despite the enactment of the Food and Drug Law and the establishment of the Food and Drug Corporation following the row which Dr. Malhas statements caused in 1998, citizens are still subject to numerous forms of fraud. Dr. Malhas, in his capacity as a deputy declared at year end that no improvement worth mentioning happened in the citizens’ food for years (Al-Ghad 7-10-2004). He repeatedly asserts that the “garbage of the world is still flowing into Jordan” (Al-Jazeera weekly 29-11-2004).
Numerous cases related to the bad quality of food had surfaced during the year. Among those: contaminated rice, Brazilian chicken, and rotten cheese. Various quantities of meat and food stuffs deemed unfit for human consumption found their way into the market all year long (Ad-Dustour 18-8-2004 and Ad-Diyar 20-12-2004).
The continuous flow of rotten food stuff and expired consumer materials, and the change of labels that show expiry dates and specifications and replacing them with forged labels betoken that disciplinary actions are not enough and/or supervision is not strict enough or is not practiced properly. (“Who is responsible for the import of bad meat?”) (Munzir Alawneh in Al-Arab Al-Yom 17-7-2004).
The problem of de-freezing meat and selling it as fresh is still practiced.
In some cases, some deputies demanded an investigation on how some food stuffs find their way into the market without official knowledge and consent. (The case of rice).
* Child’s Rights
At last, and ten years after the Government first declared its resolve to issue the ‘Jordan’s Child Protection Law, the much coveted Law became a fact due to continuous insistence of civil society and human rights’ organizations. The draft law was referred to the Lower House for discussion in its tenure in 2005. In many of its articles, the Law is in chime with the Convention on the Rights of the Child to which Jordan is a signatory. The most positive aspect of the Law is Article (22) which calls for setting up a “National Committee for the Protection of the Rights of the Child”.
Other positive steps in this regard were noticed in 2004. Among them is the proclamation of a ‘National Plan of Action for Children’ based on international covenants. This plan was formulated in collaboration with the National Council fort Family Affairs, UNICEF and the Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation. As is the case in many such plans and strategies, what matters is the implementation and not only devising plans and making media hoopla about them. Another positive step that must be given credit is the Preparation of Jordan’s Third Report about the Implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, ‘which the Ministry of Social Development solicited the participation of various human rights and women organizations in its preparation and sought their comments on it.
On the field level, many phenomena still cause worry and concern for human rights organizations. Examples:-
1- The increase of violence against children. More than 1000 of violence cases are reported against children annually (Al-Rai 22-8). Moreover, the ratio of juvenile delinquents is on the rise, too. According to recent figures, their number hovers around 6000 (Al-Ghad daily 18-12-2004). Specialists attribute this phenomenon to unemployment, poverty and family disintegration. Furthermore, there are more than 1300 child victims of family disintegration, orphans or of unknown lineage. These unprivileged children are taken care of by social foster homes.
2- An alarming report by the Ministry of Social Development showed that 8.4% of the population or roughly 248 thousands are handicapped children. These alarming figures are being cared for by 23 foundations, only two of which are governmental.
3- Child labor Employ and vagabondage are getting worse despite the efforts of the Ministry of Labor. A number of legal experts suggest the re-activation of the Supervision of Juvenile Behavior Law and Mandatory Education Law in order to reduce the number of students who drop out from schools.
Efforts are still needed from both the public and private sectors in order to protect and promote the rights of Jordanian children. The basic step in this regard is to expedite the ratification of the relevant law by the Lower House. The ratification of the law is likely to face stiff resistance due to the conservative nature of many of its members (89).
* Gender’s Equality
Some positive progress in this field was recorded. A woman was appointed forthefirst time as a district governor, (Suhair Maieteh) another became the first Mukhtar (Mona Al-Gowairi) while a third woman worked as a petitioner writer (Niamat Ababseh) . In the last ministerial reshuffle, the number of female ministers increased to four. On the international level, however, Mrs. Emile Naffa’ was elected to lead the Women’s International March for the Middle East. The Judge Taghrid Hikmat won an international award. Other women scored important successes in various scientific, cultural, social and administrative fields.
However, all these developments are but one side of the picture. The gloomy side tells of 19 women killed in 2004 for reasons related to family honor. Additional 40 women victims of family honor are currently under protective custody for indefinite periods. Numerous other cases are still anonymous.
Generally speaking, violence is still increasingly practiced against women as numerous studies, family guidance and woman organizations tell (90). No change was noticed regarding the stereotype of woman in school texts, media outlets or in the society at large. Moreover, women participation in the economic and social fields is very modest. According to recently-released figures, women participation in the labor force is around 7.7%. In many cases, the role of women is very weak, even inside the women’s movement, as it’s the case in the countryside and the impoverished neighborhoods in the cities.
Discrimination against women is still practiced and takes different forms. The following examples give a scaled down versions of some of these practices:
* The number of women in leading positions in public institutions/corporations as opposed to men is 11 to 573.
* Women occupy 6% of the leading positions in the Ministry of Education albeit they occupy 55% of the Ministry’s jobs.
* A noticeable disparity in wages exists between males and females. The monthly salary of a woman in the private sector is sometimes less by J.D. 67 from the corresponding salary in the public sector.
The rate of divorce is higher among the poor, extended and unemployed families. 61% of the children in foster homes (amounting to1300 children) are admitted as a result of divorce-related reasons. The ratio of divorce by repudiation (Khuloe) had doubled during the year.
Various national legislations (social security, citizenship) still discriminate against women. The removal of this discrimination, in addition to the efforts that are still needed culturally and socially, will enable women to play a more active role in the economic and political fields.
Discrimination sometimes affects the same gender. For example, the Ministry of Health doctors receive half the salaries payable to their counterparts in the Royal Medical Services, and the University of Jordan Hospital, though all of them perform the same duties and are all government employees.
1- Other increases in prices are expected in 2005.
2- Officials in all governments always stress this issue as if it were one of the underpinnings of the Kingdom. That’s why the Minister of Interior Mr. Sameer Habashneh said in the middle of the year that security is a sacred issue (Al-Rai 1-6-2004)
3- Documents published in the Jordanian press revealed the continuous partnership between Jordan and the US in matters related to combating terrorism (Al-Arab Al-Yom Supplement, the Seventh Day of 10-5-2004). This causes human rights’ organizations to view the Jordanian official denial with skepticism. Jordan’s Human Rights’ Organization had sent a message to the Prime Minister inquiring about the clandestine detention center without any response.
4- A poll conducted by the Center for Strategic Studies in the University of Jordan showed that 46% of the Deputies do not practice their authority in questioning the government (Al-Ghad 19-10-2004). Deputy Abdul Raheem Malhas (Independent) “the performance of the House of Deputies during the first year was weak and frustrating (Addustour 22-12-2004).
5- The Government several times, ignored the House of Deputies by ignoring the questions directed to some members of the government (150 questions in all). The government ignored demands by Deputies to abolish licensed electoral propaganda of some Iraqi parties in Jordan in 2005. These are just two in many examples. As a whole, the public impression views the House of Deputies as a pro-government house (Al-Arab Al-Yom 7-12-2004). As a reminder, present deputies were elected on the basis of one man-one-vote basis. 28 personalities impeached the legality of the election of some deputies but the Court turned down the case. According to law, such impeachments are only to be discussed by the House of Deputies in accordance with the Election Law.
6- The 11 policemen accused of charges of causing the death of Abdallah Mashaqba were not referred to a regular civil court but the Police Court which released them on bail. Some witnesses backtracked from their earlier testimonies under pressure (Al-Ghad 9-12-2004). Lately, some were sentenced to two and a half year of imprisonment and dismissal from service.
7- In addition, the wall constitutes dangerous and strong challenge to the rights of Palestinians especially their right to establish an independent state. Jordanian officials have, and on various occasions, emphasized that the wall threatens Jordan’s national security but this statement was not followed by any practical defensive measures.
8- Many party officials have repeatedly reiterated that political parties cannot grow in the absence of a favorable partisan environment. Mr. Hamza Mansour Secretary General of the Islamic Action Front says “no real political will is available for an effective partisan activity. Democratic political activity means the circulation of authority. This point is overlooked by the government’s political development concept. (Al-Dustour daily Oct.3, 2000 ; symposium about the “Weakness of Parties and Drags on Their Activity”.
9- Among them 278 Jordanian prisoners in Syria, 30 in Guantanamo and 25 in Israel.
10- The files of the Jordan Society for Human Rights and Al Sabeel weekly dated 18-1-2005.
11- Jordan’s Human Rights Organization sent tens of complaints to the center but it was later known that the majority of these complaints remain outstanding. Practically, the center was communicating with security agencies (as civil societies’ usually do) but without any response. (The organizations letter to the center dated 12-11-2004 regarding 18 complaints which the organization had told the center about and the center’s response/please refer to Taleb Al-Saqqaf Assistant General Commissioner of the Center to one of the newspapers “nine months in order to get a Jordanian citizen across the border. Even in Jouway’da’s prison case the ministerial commission entrusted with investigating prisons approached the problem from an administrative and technical view point and ignored the rights of citizens and the practices that infringe on these rights.
12- ‘Special complaints file’ of the Jordan Society for Human Rights.
13- Al Sabeel Weekly of 23-12-2004
14- Sheehan Weekly of 17-4-2004
15- Al-Arab Al-Yawm of 6-5-2004 and Al-Rai 1-6-2004
16- At the beginning of the year, American forces released 20 Jordanian detainees from Um Qasr prison and kept the rest for unknown reasons. The ex-Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Marwan Al-Moa’sher has said that it is difficult to locate all prisoners accurately. He estimated their numbers to be around 300 (Al Sabeel 20-1-2004). Mid August another 6 Jordanians were set free from Abu Ghraib and Um Qasr prisons. Another Jordanian kidnapped in Karbala was released (Addustour 18-8-2004).
17- The Al-Ghad campaign regarding the missing and lost entitled “Come Back to Us” whereas detailed information about tens of missing was published based on information from relatives (Al-Ghad all through August and September 2004). This is an example of how the press could serve human rights.
18- The annual report regarding human rights in Jordan for 2003 issued by Jordan’s Human Rights Organization page 6.
19- This announcement coincided with the increase in the prices of fuel, and sales tax from 13 to 16%. This might be just a coincidence.
20- For example, the French daily Le Figaro dated 9-4-2004 mentioned the opinions and comments of some specialists.
21- The Jordanian daily Al-Arab Al-Yom a report entitled “a Permanent Partnership Between Jordan and the US to Counter Terrorism” in its weekly appendix” “the Seventh Day” dated 10-5-2004.
In this regard, it is worth noting here to a scientific research conducted by Dr. Faris Bzairat a polls expert in the Center for Strategic Studies in the University of Jordan entitled “How Jordanians View Terrorism?” 90% of those polled considered that the following acts are considered terrorist. Israeli shooting against Palestinian civilians, demolition of houses and lands, American military actions in Iraq, assassination of Palestinian leaders. Only 48% think that the bombing of the UN Headquarters was a terrorist act and 46% consider bombing residential areas in Saudi Arabia as a terrorist act and only 35% consider the 9/11 attacks as a terrorist act. These results need further analysis and cannot be taken for granted (Addustour 10-1-2005).
22- Information about this subject was published and disseminated in CNN and TV5 stations, French News Agency on 17-6-2004 British Guardian on (13-6), New York Times and Ha’artez in addition to two American human rights organizations: Human Rights’ Watch and Human Rights First. Al-Arab Al Yom daily (on 20-6-2004) demanded that the Jordanian Government sue international press agencies that spread lies about Jordan. On 5-3-2005 the American CBS station said that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) used a Boeing 737 to take suspected terrorists to countries where torture can be condoned for interrogation. Moreover, CBS added that more than 600 such flights to 4 countries have been done; all of them after 9-11-2001. Among these flights 30 headed to Jordan, 19 to Afghanistan, 17 to Morocco and 16 to Iraq (French News Agency from Washington 6-3-2005).
23- Al-Arab Al-Yom 28-7-2004.
24- Refer to “Correction and Re-habitation Facilities in Jordan’s issued by the Human Rights Center in 29-4-2004 page 7.
25- As an example, Khair Eddin Mohammed Tawfik Al Dalkamony was illegally arrested by the Governor of Irbid after he served his term (Jordan Human Rights Organizations’ complaints’ file).
26- Attorney Nwairan Al-Abbadi, member of Jordan’s Human Rights Organization prepared a study about the subject that can be submitted to the authorities concerned.
27- Regretfully, the governments spoke woman Mrs. Asma Khader had the courage to defend these practices claiming that all correction facilities suffer from such violations (Al-Arab Al-Yawm 8-2-2004). Its note worthy that Mrs. Asma Khader was until recently, human rights activists. This view was not the first that Mrs. Khadir takes in defense of some government acts which she previously condemned. Some such views are flagrant such as her defense of the bilateral agreement between the US and Jordan regarding the latter’s acquiescence to American pressure not to hand over some American citizens who might be arraigned by the International Court of Justice which means practically Jordan’s relinquishment from joining the International Courts’ Article of Association.
28- Correction and Re-habilitation Facilities in Jordan. A quarterly report covering the period from 1-1 to 31-3-2004 issued on 29-4-2004. A report about Jouway’da Prison dated 9-9-2004 and the second report about the Correction and Rehabilitation Facilities from 1-4 to 30-10-2004.
29- Annual reports of Jordan Society for Human Rights (JSHR) and Arab Human Rights’ Organization/Jordan branch. For example, an interview with Dr. Sulaiman Sweiss, President of the JSHR (Al-Sabeel 20-7-2004) and another interview with Mr. Hani Dahleh President of the Organization in Jordan (Al-Sabeel 24-1-2005).Memos and letters by both organizations to officials in the Executive and Legislative branches (e.g. a letter sent by Jordan Society for Human Rights to the ex-Prime Minister Mr. Ali Abu-Rageb dated 26-8-2004.
30- By the mid year, Al-Jouway’da prison had 1654 inmates. Its maximum capacity is only 1000.
31- Al-Ghad published a summary of a memo dated 7-10-2004. According to the Center, the approval of the security authorities to visit prisons obstructs the search for truth!
32- The House of Deputies prepared two draft laws about “Right to Impart Information” and the Protection of the States Secrets and Document.
33- There exists some fear of some articles in the Press Law such as intensifying financial fines of journalists. The embodiment of these views in the new law does not mean that all letters on the freedom of expression or the right to impart information have been lifted. According to some media specialists; Press work is fettered with 24 laws that prohibit publication (Al-Ghad dated 2-9-2004).
34- The issuance of two new daily newspapers ‘Al-Diyar’ and ‘Al-Ghad’ and weekly magazines like ‘Al-Badeel’ and ‘Al-Baida’ in addition to radio stations on FM waves (Mood, Play and Beat) that transmit light songs and soft music but no political programs or news bulletins. Another TV station and satellite TV station have also been licensed.
35- The book “From the Al-Nakba (Disaster) to Al Intifada” (Uprising) by Bahjat Abu Gharbieh was banned. In addition,” Jordan: Where To?” By Wahib Al-Shair was not allowed in the country. A periodical interested in issues of the poor was not licensed. Publication Department is still procrastinating in the licensing of Dar Al-Kafila Al Arabiyeh for Bassam Ulayan.
36- Al-Hayat (Arabic daily published in London) dated 19-12-2004
37- We demand an end to direct and indirect interference in the policy of newspapers said Tahir Al-Adwan editor-in-chief of Al-Arab Al-Yom Daily. He summed up by saying “what really hurts me at this stage, 15 years after the introduction of democracy; is my feeling of the downbeat of enthusiasm among media circles to defend press freedoms which allowed for setbacks and violations of what had been achieved already” (Al-Arab Al-Yom 19-12-2004). Osama Al Shareef (editor-in-chief of Al-Dustour) in an article dated 14-7-2004 complains about official interference (….). His article came to show the positive role played by the press in disclosing the leakage of Al-Tawjihi questions. Numerous parameters had a negative effect on the freedom of the press. Rakan Al-Majali, Al-Dustour daily 14-12-2004. Dr. Fahd Al-Fanek wrote a column saying that Jordan TV receives orders from five different sources Al-Rai 21-12-2004.
38- “Arab Future” Magazine number 312 February 2005 p. 154-155 Dr. Al Fanek says “examples of editing articles is done either by omission which is the easiest way or by rephrasing some articles to tone them down or in some other cases change their meaning all together. This happened to one of my articles published on 23-11-2004 whereas my original sentence was “the American Army killed the injured and the captives” was changed to read: “the American Army may have killed the captives and the injured”. The expression “he is not the only wounded whom the war criminals dealt with by bullets was rephrased to read: He was not the only wounded the criminals dealt with in bullets. And the expression “the beasts destroyed the houses of Falluja” was changed to read “because its homes have been destroyed and so on”.
39- Al-Dustour daily dated 20-10-2004 and 29-8-2004
40- A lecture, held at the University of Jordan entitled “Security, Stability and Political Development” was changed by the General Intelligence Directorate to read “Youth and Political Development” the Intelligence officer made it clear that he works according to law and legislation to preserve security and stability in the country. The Directorate is responsible for combating espionage, to resist material damage, terrorism and to resist intellectual damage in accordance with the laws in force, which delineates what is permissible and what is not (Al-Rai 9-5-2004).
41- Al-Rai 6-12-2004
42- The statement of Jordan’s Society for Human Rights on the subject issued on 7-2-2004.
43- “Demands to substantially change the articles of the Welfare Development Societies”. 800 society and voluntary bodies consider it not in chime with popular ambitions (Al-Dustour daily 23-9-2004). Social activists reject the Welfare Societies’ Law because it contravenes international covenants Al-Arab Al-Yom 7-12-2004.
44- Addustour 23-8-2004. The Minister of Education’s opinion was based on the Laws’ Explanation ‘Council’ which does not allow for government employees to form a syndicate. If that is so what explanation can be given to the fact that a similar syndicate was allowed to be setup in 1955 or was the licensing then unconstitutional?
45- Dr. Fahd Al-Fanek, in Al-Rai 28-4-2004
46- Long live Management Reform, an article written by Fahed Al-Khitan, another article “from Political Development to Management Development, My Heart Don’t Grief-Nahed Hattar. Another article by Taher Adwan “the Illusions of Change and Reform” wherin he said “this is not a change towards modernizing the state neither it is a taste of democracy it is in fact more. It is the illusion of movement, illusion of change and reform which no one can believe any more (Al-Arab Al-Yom 12-2-2004).
47- The Deputy Dr. Abdul Rahim Malhas (Al-Ghad 7-10-2004).
48- This case of corruption made Jordan take an advanced place among the countries that counter corruption in 2004.
49- Due to the efforts of the Accounting Council few tens of millions of dinars are saved every year and this is really important. But as some observers notice the Accounting Council is really curtailed. Losses resulting from the Magnesia Corruption case totaled J.D. 100 million. House of Deputies asked to refer the case to the states prosecutor for investigation.
50- For example, Faris Al-Nabulsi ex-Prime Minister and head of the Anti-Corruption’s Ministerial Committee admits that the anti-corruption committee is perfunctory and hasn’t met for a whole year. (Al-Arab Al-Yom the ‘Seventh Day appendix dated 20-12-2004) please refer to the article “What is Needed From the Government by Rakan Al-Majali whereas he said “the first step toward change should be countering corruption which is flourishing due to the inability to prove it or to solve it by law. It is a flagrant type of corruption that makes its presence felt in different forms (Addustour 22-2-2004).
51- A writer discusses the ability of the press to play its role in combating corruption “the Jordanian press is unable to wage not even a small battle against corruption and corruptors not because it is professionally poor or not committed to the cause but because it faces tough options which we all know. Not a single Jordanian newspaper was able to uncover the number which Deputy Mahmoud Kharabshe uncovered during the discussions of the budget. J.D. 5.2 million dinars are annually paid by the state to advisors as fringe benefits (Basil Rafayeh Al-Ghad 8-8-2004)
52- To manipulate the Social Security Law. Some pension’s amount to J.D. 10,000 (Dr. Fahd Al-Fanek Al-Rai 22-9-2004), admission of the rotten cheese, contaminated rice, companies licensed for ministers while still in office-grants and hand-outs to journalists, money distributed among some Deputies-Karama Dam, privatization of Potassium Company. Appointment of a high ranking employee with a salary of J.D. 1,500 presumably a relative of the Minister of Health.
53- Jordan came 90th on the Human Development Resources index with an average growth rate of 75%! An annual income of $ 4220 per capita. Life expectancy in Jordan is 9.71!! Year compared with Japan the highest in the world with a life expectancy of 5,81!! Years and Zambia comes last with life expectancy of 7,32!! Jordan ranked 76 in qualitative or gender-related development and annual average development of 4,73%. Women representation in the House of Deputies totaled 9.7% women annual income totaled 1896 which is number 96 in the world. (Human Development Report for 2004 (Al-Ghad 25-9-2004).
54- Results of a poll by the Center for Strategic Studies in the University of Jordan showed that 4,42% of those interviewed said that their livelihood has deteriorated during the last year; 4,43% said their livelihood did not change and only 4,13% said that their livelihood had actually improved (Addustour 20-10-2004).
55- The Secretary General of the Ministry of Social Development Houmood Alimat said that a study including 13000 families showed that the absolute poverty line in the Kingdom is J.D. 392 man/year in 2002 from 366 man/year in 1997 (Al-Ghad 31-8-2004).
56- Poverty Reduction or a Change of Methodology by Dr. Ibrahim Saif, Addustour 4-9-2004 and Hilmi Al-Asmar, “Abu Zur Ghafari Campaign to Counter Poverty” and the official report on poverty and these remarks/Ahmed Jamil Shaker (Addustour 1-9-2004) and a more recent study results which were published in Al-Rai and Al-Ghad on 20-8-2004. The study concluded that absolute poverty line reached J.D. 262 family/month. The study showed that 4,70% who live in the south are below poverty line.
57- Did the Numbers of Poor Really Decrease? An article published by Fahed Kheitan (Al-Arab Al-Yom 1-9-2004). Please refer to “Studies of Poverty and Unemployment Don’t Reflect the Extent and Volume of These Phenomena in Society Al-Ghad 28-10-2004. National Assistance Funds serves only 37% of the poor (Al-Ghad 1-9-2004).
58- Refer to “Poverty in Jordan:” Realities and Official Window Dressing by Bassam Kasasbeh a Jordanian writer specialized in economics (Al-Ghad 6-10-2004).
59- Refer to “Recommendations of the Poverty Convention Still not Implemented” by Khalil Banna (Al-Rai 9-10-2004). Dr. Fahed Al-Fanek wrote an essay saying that he did not attend the convention because recommendations are never implemented and the same recommendations will be issued after 5 years.
60- Al-Rai 21-10-2004
61- Conflicting figures about the ratio of unemployment and the International Bank recommendations (Addustour 12-7-2004).
62- The Civil Service Commission asserted that it received 170 thousands applications for employment in the spring of 2004 (Addustour 12-4-2004). On a different level, widely circulated official report leaked from the Ministry of Planning said that average rate of unemployment among the poor in Jordan reached 42% as compared to 36% among the rich (Al-Liwa Weekly 9-2-2005). On a different level, a number of participants in the sub-committees who were preparing the poverty and unemployment conference were astonished to note that heads of some of these committees insisted not to criticize economic policies that caused to widen the base of poverty and unemployment and insisted that recommendations go to one direction only ! (Al-Arab Al-Yom 16-8-2004).
63- 6.3% during 2004 according to the Ministry of Finance report (Al-Rai 10-10-2004).
64- Optimistic government’s statements urged one journalist to say mockingly “we are the first country in the world where poverty and unemployment decrease while prices and taxes increase (Rakan Al-Majali , Addustour 13-2-2005).
65- The Budget of an Average Jordanian Family: Increased Expenditure and Decreased Income (Al-Ghad 4-8-2004). Income of Jordanians, comments by Jamil Nimri (Al-Arab Al-Yom 2-9-2004). The Arab Al-Yom published a novel report entitled: “The Diaries of a Fixed Income Citizen” whereas-and during a whole month-it monitored a civil servant (under the alias Radhi Jawar’neh) who, along, with his wife, earn a monthly income of J.D. 420. They have three children. By the time his new salary becomes due he is left with only J.D. 7,5. Both are thrifty (Al-Arab Al-Yom 13-7-2004).
66- For example, (Al-Arab Al-Yom around mid April had published an article entitled. “Jordan and the International Monetary Fund: Secrets and Concealments” which was commented on by Mr. Samir Al-Taweel the ex-Minister of economics whereas he pointed that the sales tax has recently became the number one source of revenues for the budget and that the Funds’ policies had an adverse effect on the social and micro levels such as decline in the standard of living of a wide sector of the population and an increase in poverty and unemployment (Al-Arab Al-Yom 20-4-2004).
67- Al-Ghad 5-12-2004 refers also to a government report regarding declining expenditure on development projects in the Jordan’s desert in spite of available allocations (Al-Rai 25-11-2004). The social and economic transformation program had almost depleted foreign aid (Al-Ghad 14-8-2004) written by a number of economists. A secret report criticizes the management of projects. “Productivity Promotion Programs; A Media Success and Floundering Implementation” (Al-Arab Al-Yom 20-4-2004). As a reminder: Development is a basic human right.
68- In an article entitled the “Consequences of International Covenants on Jordanian Legislation” Dr. Waleed Al-Saadi says that the recommendations of the specialized international agencies show that Jordan’s commitment to these resolutions is at its lowest level, especially that recommendations of these agencies regarding improving Jordan’s performance remained unimplemented. Accordingly, the impact of these agreements on Jordanian laws remains minimal (Al-Rai 16-11-2004).
69- Royal Court never says no to anyone. Demands of hundreds of Jordanians are being met (Addustour 25-2-2004). This called for the introduction of two additional departments and another unit for the Royal Court patients (Al-Rai 27-7-2004). Please refer to Dr. Reem Mrayat article, about the same subject (Al-Rai 10-11-2004) and ‘Grievences Council’ by Hilmi Al-Asmar (Addustour 16-8-2004).
70- Private Service Companies to Manage the Government Medical Insurance (Al-Rai 8-3-2005). Please refer to “unhealthy Insurance” by Sameeh Al-Mayateh (Al-Ghad 14-9-2004).
71- Addustour 9-1-2005) and (Al-Arab Al-Yom 16-9-2004) “Medical Services on the Decline” Fahed Al-Khitan (Al-Arab Al-Yom 24-2-2005).
72- Addustour 13-12-2004.
73- Typhoid finds Dair Alla palatable!? Necessity of vaccination: An environment full of flies, sheep and stray dogs and a plastic factory emitting pollutants. Poverty is wide spread. Sources in Princess Iman Hospital said that some top officials abstained from visiting the patients for fear of catching typhoid. Numerous complaints were raised to the Governor of Dair Alla regarding farm dogs but without avail (Addustour 13-12-2004). Please refer to (Al-Rai 16-12-2004). “The Story of Typhoid and the Fears of the Inhabitants of Zahrat Al-Raml: Residential Areas without toilets”.
74- Allegations of lack of funds which is always repeated are belied by government reports which say a substantial part of foreign assistance and loans enter the country and remain unutilized for long periods or partially utilized. For example, total funds spent on ministries’ projects and corporations that are included in the “social and economic transformation program till September 2004 amounted to J.D. 103 million out of a total of J.D. 290 million or a ratio of only 36% of available funds. Source: A Ministry of Planning report (Al-Rai 15-9-2004).
75- Al-Arab Al-Yom 1-10-2004.
76- For example “How Long Will the Absence of Drugs in Government Hospitals and Health Centers Continue? Salamah A’Kour (Al-Rai 3-10-2004).
77- For example, the Jordanian organization had sent a message to the Minister of Health on 17-10-2002 regarding the death of Muhammad N.Salim Al-Far (7 years of age) which Al-Mafraq government hospital refused to treat unless his father pays a deposit of J.D. 30 which were not available then.
78- A number of laborers in a ready-made garments factory in Al-Hasan Industrial City performed a strike to object for not receiving their salaries (Al-Arab Al-Yom 20-8-2004). Arab Bank employees striked on June, Ambco workers after its privatization in May, Arab company workers Aral, Al-Safit Salt Company, Nurses’ strike. Please refer to “Workers With no Rights or Benefits” by Ahmed Jamil Shaker )Addustour 14-7-2004).
79- 700 Royal Jordanian employees accused their union of depriving them of their compensation as a result of privatization.
80- The minimum wage is still J.D. 85 for the eighth consecutive year.
81- (Al-Rai 27-7-2004) and (Al-Rai 19-10-2004). Mohammad Amin in (Addustour 12-4-2004) considers J.D. 85 as very unjust.
82- Shortages in faculty, text books and over crowdedness in the primary stage. (Addustour 30-8-2004). Students sit on the ground for lack of rooms (Al-Arab Al-Yom 31-8-2004) and (Al-Rai 13-10-2004) and various other examples.
83- Al-Shahid 8-9-2004.
84- Jordan Society for Human Rights approached the Minister of Education Dr. Khalid Toukan in a letter date (9-8-2004). No answer has yet been received.
85- Al-Rai 1-12-2004 and Addustour 14-1-2004- “Radiation From Dimona Constitutes a Hazard for the Area”. No scientific Jordanian studies about the subject exist. Israeli studies confirm that nuclear wastes’ containers are unfit. Please refer to Vanunu’s interview with Al-Hayat weekly appendix 26-6-2004.
86- Al-Rai appendix dated 17-8-2004 and Addustour 29-12-2004.
87- Tareq Massarweh says that 26 marshal decisions failed to resolve the contamination of Zarka plants Al-Rai 16-12-2004.
88- Al-Ghad 19-8-2004.
89- The Childs’ Right Law between the Authority of the Big and the Deceleration of the Government (Maha Humsi UNICEF) many parties oppose the law Subhieh Al-Ma’ani”. “The conservatives fear to loose control over their children “Addustour 8-10-2004.
90- “Increased Violence Against Women in the Absence of Stringent Legislation”. Number of violence cases against women reached 1178 cases in 2003 to which Family Protection Administration reacted in five districts, according to an official study. (Al-Ghad 30-11-2004).