Peaceful protesters calling for reform were forcibly dispersed and reportedly beaten by the security forces and pro-government supporters, causing injuries and possibly the death of one man. Freedom of expression and association remained restricted. The Constitution was amended to specifically prohibit torture. Trials continued before the State Security Court (SSC), whose procedures did not satisfy international standards for fair trial. Among those tried were around 100 alleged Islamists, many of whom said they were tortured or otherwise ill-treated while held incommunicado in April. Thousands of people were held without charge or prospect of trial on the authority of provincial governors. Women faced legal and other discrimination and at least 10 people were reported to have been victims of so-called honour killings. Migrant domestic workers continued to be exploited and abused. According to media reports, at least 15 people were sentenced to death. No executions were carried out.
Demonstrations were held at various points throughout the year by people calling for political, economic and social reform, prompting the King to promise change. In February, he appointed a new Prime Minister tasked with expediting reforms and later suggested that these would see a transfer of power from the monarchy to parliament and that future governments would be democratically elected and based on representative political parties. In September, amendments to the Constitution were ratified which, if implemented, would improve protection of civil and political rights. However, public criticism continued over the slow pace of reform.
In October, the King appointed a new government by decree and another new Prime Minister. The same month, the head of the feared General Intelligence Department, a military security agency, resigned and was replaced by royal decree.Top of page
Peaceful protesters and journalists were injured apparently as a result of the use of excessive force by the security forces; some members of the security forces were also reported to have been injured when demonstrations became violent. Most protests were peaceful, but some became violent after government supporters attacked peaceful demonstrators. In at least one case, the security forces refused to intervene and may have facilitated and been involved in such attacks.
Freedom of expression and association remained restricted under several laws. Journalists and others who criticized the government, monarchy or state institutions were liable to arrest and prosecution, or attack by government supporters.
A draft Anti-Corruption Commission law would further restrict media freedom if enacted, imposing substantial fines against individuals for the dissemination or publication of information about any person accused of corruption that “leads to defamation, impacts on his dignity or targets his personality”. The proposed law was still being considered at the end of 2011.
A new amendment to the Public Gatherings Law required that the authorities be notified in advance of planned “public gatherings”, replacing the requirement that prior official authorization be obtained. However, the amendment failed to define the term “public gathering”.Top of page
The government amended Article 8 of the Constitution to explicitly provide that detainees are not to be “tortured… or harmed physically or emotionally” and are only to be held in places “sanctioned by law”, and to invalidate “confessions” or other statements obtained under duress. Despite these important new safeguards, reports of torture and other ill-treatment persisted.Top of page
Over 100 people, most of them alleged Islamists, faced unfair trials before the SSC in 2011 for alleged offences against state security. Constitutional amendments included the stipulation that civilians should not be tried before a panel comprising only military judges except in cases involving treason, espionage, terrorism, drugs offences and counterfeiting. Local and international human rights organizations, including Amnesty International, have called for the SSC to be abolished.
According to the official Jordan National Centre for Human Rights, around 11,300 people were held under the 1954 Law on Crime Prevention. This gives provincial governors the power to detain people indefinitely without charge if they are suspected of committing a crime or deemed a “danger to society”.Top of page
Women continued to face discrimination in law and in practice, and gender-based violence. According to media reports, at least nine women were killed by male relatives and one man was killed in cases where the perpetrator claimed to have acted in the name of family “honour”.
Women’s rights activists called for reform of the Citizenship and Nationality Law to enable Jordanian women married to a foreign spouse to pass on their nationality to their children and husband, as Jordanian men married to a foreign spouse can do. The law had not been amended by the end of 2011. In June, the King spoke in favour of abolishing all forms of legal discrimination against women, but when the Constitution was ratified its Article 6(i), which prohibits discrimination on grounds of “race, language or religion”, was not amended to prohibit discrimination on grounds of gender.
At the end of her 14-day visit to Jordan in November, the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women pointed out that constitutional prohibition of gender discrimination was necessary to ensure that women can properly challenge inequality. She also said that any steps towards eradicating violence against women must be preceded by improved equality for women.Top of page
Thousands of migrant domestic workers continued to be inadequately protected against exploitation and abuse, including sexual violence, by their employers despite legislation and official regulations introduced since 2008. During her visit in November, the Special Rapporteur on violence against women encouraged the government to strengthen measures to prevent abuses against women migrant domestic workers. Tens of women who fled employers for reasons ranging from non-payment of wages to physical abuse were unable to return to their countries of origin because they could not pay fines imposed for over-staying their residence visas.Top of page
People fleeing violence in Syria continued to arrive in Jordan. By December, at least 2,300 Syrians had registered with UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, in Amman. Jordan continued to host hundreds of thousands of refugees from other countries.Top of page
According to media reports, at least 15 people were sentenced to death although at least five of those sentences were commuted. The last execution took place in 2006.Top of page