National Human Rights Plan

 

NATIONAL  HUMAN RIGHTS PLAN – Jordan

We, all NGOs (non governmental organizatons) signatories to this letter, wish to convey to you our kind greetings. In reply to your letter dated 27/3/2016, we wish to thank you for inviting the civil society to participate in the implementation of the National Plan on Human Rights and for inviting us to submit our observations, comments and recommendations with respect to cooperation in the implementation of the National Plan in accordance with the following priorities and therefore; we wish herein to submit to your kind attention our views in this context:

First : Proposed amendments related to the content of the National Plan:

  • Right to life and physical integrity: One of the recommendations mentioned in the plan calls for broadening the definition of torture. In this regard, we wish to propose herein the adoption of a special law on the prevention of torture (attached herewith a research paper on reasons for enacting such a law with copy of the proposed draft law including a specific definition for torture). We also suggest torture cases to be solely tried in front of regular courts (which have the general mandate), and to restrict such competence within their jurisdiction, we also stress the need to follow-up on recommendations of the UN Committee against Torture. Concerned Government officials and representatives of organizations signatories of this letter will be invited to participate in a round table meeting to discuss the above-mentioned paper, which is scheduled to take place in the last week of this month and will be organized by Mizan and the Jordanian Society for Human Rights.
    We also urge the government to declare that it has NO intention to end the moratorium of death penalty. In coordination with the Jordanian  Society for Human Rights, Mizan will be organizing a seminar on this issue in October 2016.
  • Right to fair trial:  There is a need to amend the Code of Criminal Procedure to ensure respect for the right to a fair trial before all courts in Jordan, including the State Security Court as per its definition according to article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, therefore; we suggest adding  a special provision for this right in the  second chapter of the Constitution and also suggest amending the Code of Criminal Procedure, particularly with regard to safeguarding  this  right by ensuring the presence of  a lawyer with the defendant  from the moment of arrest and during all stages of legal  proceedings as well as amending the law of the State Security Court and the Anti-Terrorism Law so as to address existing  gaps between these two laws and the international standards of human rights to ensure respect of the  basic standards of  criminal justice, particularly;  the right to be tried before a judicial body independent from the executive branch and the right to challenge judgments while  the option of  trial before this  court (state security court) will be an exception and not the norm. Moreover, arrest, detention and extension of sentences period in crimes falling within the jurisdiction of the State Security Court should be subject to same terms and guarantees contained in the Code of Criminal Procedure and rules for fair trials stipulated in international human rights conventions, which Jordan has ratified and published in the Official Gazette, namely the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Arab Charter on Human Rights.
  • Freedom of opinion and expression:  We call for amending legislations pertaining to freedoms of opinion, expression and press so as to explicitly stipulate that arrest is not permissible in such cases and we push forward towards ensuring stability of national laws governing this right so as to avoid any inconsistency thereof. A working paper on required amendments relating to legal guarantees regulating the right of access to information in accordance with international standards and best practices will be presented and discussed at a workshop to be organized by Mizan and the Jordanian Society for Human Rights, with the participation of all signatory organizations in July 2016.
  • Right of assembly and association: We call for the harmonization of all national laws governing this right with the Constitution and with the provision of Article 128 in particular in a way that ensures and regulates the exercise of this right and does not derogate or affect its core essence. We shall provide the government team with a number of research papers we prepared before on international standards and best practices in this field together with a set of proposed amendments to fulfill Jordan’s obligations under international human rights conventions. We shall also call on organizations concerned to build a coalition and establish an observatory to monitor violations in this area.

Second:  Joint comments and observations concerning issues not covered in the Plan:

In this connection, we recommend adding the following suggested provisions / or amendments:

  • Proposed amendments to the Constitution:
    •  Amend article 5 so as to stipulate that nationality is the basis of citizenship and that no citizen may be stripped of his or/ her nationality.
    • Amend article 6 that stipulates that : "Jordanians are equal before the law, no distinction is to be made between them as regards to their rights and duties, on basis of  race, language or religion" so as to read as follows: “Citizens are equal before the law. There shall be no discrimination between them as regards to their rights and duties on grounds of race, color, sex/ gender, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, wealth or any other cause, and the State shall safeguard rights contained in this chapter without distinction.”
    • Add an article in chapter 2 of the constitution on the right to life and to protection from torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and the right of victims of torture to redress and reparation.
    • Add an article to chapter 2 of the constitution that guarantees right to fair trial and access to justice so as to state clearly that any defendant is considered innocent until proven guilty and that he/she shall be informed of charges leveled against him/her and reasons for his/her arrest and will be tried before a competent court without undue delay in addition to the introduction of special provision on non-retroactivity of penal laws, the personal character of punishment and the right to have access to a  lawyer as well as  a guarantee not  to be tried twice for the same charges .
    • Amend article 33 of the constitution to indicate explicitly the legal status of international conventions within the Jordanian legal system.
  • Abolish all discriminatory legal provisions against women within national legislations, such as: the Law on Residence and Foreigners' Affairs, which denies Jordanian women the right to grant their foreign husbands the right of residence for 5 years contrary to Jordanian men who can give this right to their foreign wives and the need to amend the Labor Code to explicitly stipulate the principle of equal pay for equal work and repeal article 308 of the Penal Code.
  • Adopt a child rights’ law and guidelines on how to identify and apply the principle of best interest of the child (we will provide you with a draft copy for this law during the month of July 2016.)
  • Introduce an equality law/ parity law to regulate and enforce the right to equality and non-discrimination enshrined in Article 6 of the Constitution. We shall provide you with a draft copy for this law highlighting required elements/ components to be contained in this law as well as a working paper on the principles of equality and non-discrimination within the international law and Jordanian legislations.
  • Adopt a special law on syndicates and trade unions as a regulatory interpretation of the second paragraph of Article (16) of the Constitution.
  • Establish family courts (and the application of the protection from domestic violence law and end the placement of women victims of domestic violence in correction and rehabilitation centers/ prisons).
  • Amend the Crime Prevention Law in consultation with other human rights organizations to ensure its consistency with the constitution and international human rights standards without prejudice to the independence of the judiciary  and in light of recent developments in Jordan.

Third: Regarding Awareness and Training:

We are pleased to put at your disposal the expertise and capabilities of our staff in human rights as per your need, and we will provide you with copies of relevant training manuals that we have already prepared and published in this context.

We appreciate your efforts and openness towards civil society organizations. In order to better contribute to the implementation of the plan especially in the  area of  harmonization of national legislations with international human rights standards, we would appreciate it if you could consider inviting two representatives at least from signatory organizations to this letter to meetings of government committees in charge of amending  laws mentioned  in the plan and meetings of the legislation and opinion bureau so as to be able to contribute to discussion, provide input and express our position and opinion regarding  legislations under review  as per  the competence and  mandate of  each signatory organization party of this memo.

With Kind regards
Sincerely Yours

Signed by:
Mizan for Law
Jordanian Society for Human Rights

TAMKEEN Center / fields for AidJordanian National Observatory of Human Rights Association
SIGI- Jordan/Sisterhood is Global Institute – Jordan