Jordan

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Persistent violations
  • Discrimination in relation to the inheritance of nationality[1]
  • Child labour[2]
  • Violence against children, particularly domestic violence[3]
  • Trafficking of children[4]
  • Discrimination against girls in access to education[5]
  • Inadequate sexual and reproductive health education and restrictive and punitive abortion laws[6]
  • Early marriage[7]
  • Low minimum age of criminal responsibility[8]
  • Use of deprivation of liberty of children as otherwise than a last resort[9]
  • Killings in the name of "honour"[10]
  • Barriers to access to education for refugee and asylum-seeking children[11]
  • Lack of legal framework for the protection of refugee and asylum-seeking children[12]
  • Inequality between men and women with regards to parental responsibilities[13]

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Footnotes
  1. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Human Rights Committee, UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, UN Special Rapporteur on violence against children, Universal Periodic Review
  2. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Human Rights Committee, UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
  3. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women
  4. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, UN Committee against Torture
  5. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women
  6. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women
  7. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women
  8. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee against Torture
  9. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee against Torture, UN Special Rapporteur on torture
  10. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women
  11. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women
  12. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Special rapporteur on violence against children
  13. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women



Introduction

The Middle Eastern country of Jordan borders Iraq, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. A constitutional monarchy, the Jordanian parliament includes an elected chamber of deputies, though the results of these elections are often disputed, alongside a senate and a government appointed by and subordinate to the King. Jordan has struggled to respond to increasing dissatisfaction with the current rule in recent years, with an increase in repression against opposition and protestors, violence by security forces and the widespread use of arbitrary, sometimes indefinite, detention against both adults and children.

Geography

The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is to the north-east of the Arabian Peninsula and borders Saudi Arabia, Syria, Israel, Iraq and the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). Largely located on a plateau, the country has terrain that segues into those of it's neighbours with few natural frontiers. The capital city is Amman.

Population and language

Jordan has a population in excess of 6.3 million people, a figure that has risen rapidly over the last three decades and continues to rise at between two and three per cent annually.[1] Jordan's people are largely ethnically homogeneous, 98 per cent are of Arab descent, though there are substantial communities of Circassian and Armenian peoples. The vast majority of the population profess the Sunni Muslim faith (92 per cent) while there is also a sizeable Christian minority (6 per cent).

The position of the country at the borders of Iraq, the OPT and Syria has led to a persistent influx of refugees throughout the country's history. An estimated 2 million refugees live in Jordan.[2] As well as the large community of refugees from the OPT, is estimated that around 450,000 Iraqis may be living in the country.[3] The ongoing conflict in Syria has caused a further influx of refugees, which led Jordan to request US$700 million in support from the international community in September 2012.[4]

Arabic is the official language, but English is widely spoken.

History and politics

Transjordan, as the country was then known, emerged from being a British Protectorate in the Middle East in 1946, when the UN recognised the nation as a sovereign state. The former Emir became the King and continued the rule of the Hashemite dynasty in the region. Jordan has played an important role in regional politics since its creation. In 1948, Jordan's military entered Palestine with other Arab forces and annexed much of eastern Palestine (the West Bank) and divided Jerusalem. Following the six-day war of 1967, Israel occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem and expelled Jordanian forces, though Jordan did not sign a peace treaty with Israel until 1994.[5]

In recent years Jordan has not been immune to the political instability that has been common across the Middle-East. Political reforms pre-dated the “Arab Spring”, including the introduction of a new electoral law in 2010, but opposition politicians were critical of what they saw as limited progress.[6] In February 2011 large scale street protests took place, leading the King to appoint a new Prime Minister charged with carrying out political reforms. Protests continued throughout the summer, however, leading to the appointment of Awn al-Khasawneh, a former judge at the International Criminal Court, to the premiership. Al-Khasawneh himself resigned only six months later apparently over a dispute about the slow pace of political reform.[7] The King quickly appointed Fayez al-Tarawneh Prime Minister, the fourth person to hold the position since February 2011.

Economy

Jordan is a middle income country with limited natural resources, though potash and phosphates are among its main export commodities. The country also suffers from a scarcity of water, with the fourth lowest levels of water resources in the world. The service industry accounts of 70 per cent of Jordanian GDP and 75 per cent of jobs. The national economy places a substantial reliance on tourism, foreign direct investment, remittances and imports, which leave it open to external shocks. The interruptions in gas supply from Egypt throughout 2011 cost an additional US$2.4 billion by the end of 2012 and contributed to the rise in national debt to around 66 per cent of GDP. Growth also fell sharply in 2011 from more than the 6.5 per cent of GDP it averaged between 200 and 2008 to 2.3 percent.[8]

Media and civil society

Press offences were theoretically decriminalised in March 2007, but the impact of these legal reforms has not been felt by the Kingdom's journalists who remain liable to be imprisoned for a number of offences. The Criminal code, Law of Exception and a number of other laws still contain provisions that allow journalists to be detained. This decriminalisation was implemented alongside substantial rises in fines permitted for “defamation”, “offence against religion” and “publication of news likely to stoke up ethnic and racial tension”.[9] In 2010 a Jordanian court jailed a columnist for criticising cooperation between Jordanian and U.S. Intelligence agencies during a television appearance, and in November 2010 a parliamentary candidate was also jailed for causing “sectarian strife” in relation to campaign materials critical of Jordan's lack of social mobility.[10] Reporters Without Borders has reported on a new media bill before the Parliament in September 2012 which, if passed, would institute a number of measures that could have a harmful impact on media freedom.[11]

Journalists operating in Jordan are also required to belong to the Press Association in order to work legally, a rule that is potentially open to abuse. Freedom House reported in 2011 that journalists critical of the government have been excluded from membership of the Association. The exclusion of online journalists from the Association also leaves those working in online media without adequate legal protection.[12]

Reporters Without Borders rated the country 128 out of 179 in its Press Freedom Index 2011/12, a ranking that indicates the ongoing problems for media operating in the country.

Human rights and children's rights

Jordan has been criticised for its response to protests throughout 2011, including in relation to allegations of excessive force used against protesters and journalists; the arrest and detention of those allegedly involved in demonstrations; and ill-treatment of those arrested in detention. Amnesty International has also been critical of the State's practice of indefinitely detaining people without trial, a practice that is permitted under the Law on Crime Prevention 1954.[13] The UN human rights mechanisms have also been critical of the Jordanian justice system, with specific regards to children, noting the low age of criminal responsibility and the use of detention as other than a measure of last resort. Child labour and commercial exploitation are also serious problems facing children in the country, practices that are particularly common in the informal sector.[14]

Footnotes:

  1. UNDESA, "Population Statistics 2012"
  2. UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees in the near east: Jordan"
  3. UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), "2012 UNHCR country operations profile- Jordan"
  4. The Financial Times, "Jordan strives to cope with Syria refugees" 18 September 2012
  5. BBC, "1994: Israel and Jordan make peace" 26 October 1994
  6. BBC, "Jordan strives to cope with Syria refugees" 18 September 2012
  7. Al Jazeera, "Jordan's Prime Minister resigns" 26 April 2012
  8. The World Bank, "Jordan Overview"
  9. Reporters Without Borders, "World Report: Jordan"
  10. Freedom House, "Freedom of the Press 2011: Jordan"
  11. Reporters Without Borders, "Dismay after government approves media bill" 30 August 2012
  12. Freedom House, "Freedom of the Press 2011: Jordan"
  13. Amnesty International, "World Report 2012: The state of the world's human rights"
  14. CRIN, "JORDAN: Persistent violations of children's rights" 21 September 2012

Sources:

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