U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 1997 - Jordan
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Publication Date||30 January 1998|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 1997 - Jordan, 30 January 1998, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6aa5014.html [accessed 3 March 2015]|
Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, January 30, 1998.
JORDANThe Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is a constitutional monarchy that has been ruled by King Hussein since 1952. The Constitution concentrates a high degree of executive and legislative authority in the King, who determines domestic and foreign policy. The Prime Minister and the Cabinet manage the daily affairs of government. The Parliament consists of the 40-member Senate appointed by the King and the 80-member Chamber of Deputies, which is elected by the people every 4 years. After the 1989 elections and the lifting of martial law in 1991, the lower house began to assert itself on domestic and foreign policy issues. The Parliament elected in 1993, however, was less assertive than its predecessor. Over 500 candidates competed in the October parliamentary elections, despite a boycott by the Islamist and other parties. The election was marred by reports of registration irregularities, fraud, and restrictions on the press and on campaign materials. According to the Constitution, the judiciary is independent of other branches of government; however, in practice, it is susceptible to outside influences. General police functions are the responsibility of the Public Security Directorate (PSD). The PSD, the General Intelligence Directorate (GID), and the military share responsibility for maintaining internal security and have authority to monitor the activities of persons believed to be security threats. The State Security Court and broad police powers are vestiges of martial law, which was in place from 1967 to 1991. The security forces continue to commit human rights abuses. Jordan has a mixed economy, with significant government participation in industry, transportation, and communications. The country has few natural resources and relies heavily on foreign assistance and remittances from citizens working abroad. The economy has suffered from chronically high unemployment since the late 1980's. As part of a structural adjustment program, the Government has removed subsidies on several staple goods and lifted price controls on bread, soft drinks, fruits, and vegetables. While consumer prices and interest rates have risen, wages have remained stagnant, eroding the purchasing power of most citizens. Exporters have not yet found adequate replacement markets for those lost as a result of United Nations sanctions against Iraq. Additional trade with Iraq under food for oil arrangements has not significantly affected the economy. High expectations that significant markets would develop in the West Bank, Gaza, and Israel following the 1994 signing of the Jordan-Israel peace treaty have not been realized. Per capita gross domestic product in 1996 was $1,632. Since the revocation of martial law in 1991, there has been noticeable improvement in the human rights situation, however, problems remain, including: abuse and mistreatment of detainees; arbitrary arrest and detention; lack of accountability within the security services; prolonged detention without charge; lack of due process; infringements on citizens' privacy rights; harassment of opposition political parties; and restrictions on the freedom of speech, press, assembly, and association. Citizens do not have the right to change their form of government, although they can participate in the political system through political parties and municipal and parliamentary elections. New restrictions on the press decreed by the King in May shutdown many smaller publications and led the others to practice increased self-censorship. In reaction to these limitations and to the one-man, one-vote change in the election process, the Islamist and other parties boycotted the October parliamentary elections. Abuse of foreign servants is a problem. Restrictions on women's rights, violence against women, and abuse of children are also problems. The Government imposes some limits on freedom of religion, and there is official discrimination against adherents of the Baha'i faith.