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Jordan delegates assert Kingdom’s commitment to safeguarding human rights

Stakeholders offered distant access to Geneva discussions of Jordan report

By Rana Husseini - Oct 19,2017 - Last updated at Oct 19,2017

AMMAN — Jordan’s Representative to the UN Office at Geneva Saja Majali said on Thursday said that the Kingdom is committed to safeguarding human rights for its citizens and has taken several concrete steps over the past four years to ensure that the Kingdom is honouring its commitments under human rights conventions.

“I would like to stress that the Kingdom has adopted several steps to improve the status of human rights in Jordan despite the challenges we are facing on many fronts, including the Syrian refugees influx to Jordan,” Majali said.

Her remarks were made during a UN session to present Jordan’s 5th report in front of the Human Rights Committee in Geneva, Switzerland, on Thursday that was broadcast live for a group of activists, journalists and government organisations in Amman. 

The event was organised by the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung in Amman in collaboration with Human Rights NGOs Council.

Majali said that the Kingdom has witnessed several positive changes over the past four years including the enactment of new laws that promote human rights and the setting up of a constitutional court to guarantee citizens’ rights’.

She touched on Article 308 that used to pardon sexual assault perpetrators from punishment if they married their victims, which was abolished recently by the Parliament.

Turning to the Syrian refugee influx in Jordan, Majali stressed that “it remains a big challenge for the country because of the limited resources and infrastructure”.

“Jordan calls on the international community to help us with this issue because we have exceeded the absorption limits. But at the same time, we assure all that we will never give up on the refugees and we will continue to provide the necessary services as long as it is not on the expense of our resources or the stability and security of Jordan.”

Several international delegation members posted questions to the Jordanian delegation that was related to the nationality rights for families of Jordanian women married to non-Jordanians, the application of the Domestic Violence Protection Law, refugees’ rights, so-called honour murders and administrative detention for women whose lives are in danger.

They inquired about issues like the rights of domestic workers in Jordan, the abortion figures in Jordan and the punishments and the measures the government will take to protect victims of sexual assault as well as the “high figures of early marriage”.

They also touched on the reinstating of the capital punishment and the fact that “the number of people receiving the death penalty in Jordan is high”.

Criminal Prosecutor for the Transparency Office at the Public Security Department Major Sameh Hadban, one of the delegation members, responded to some of the inquiries by highlighting the recent steps taken by the department to improve the rights-related services, providing relevant statistics.

“We conducted 226 lectures on violence against women and children at universities and various educational institutes, reaching out to 5,650 individuals, while dozens of organisations visited our departments that deal with family violence,” Hadban said.

He also listed the number of cases the various departments concerned with family protection handled in 2016.

“There were 544 sexual assault and 1,089 physical assault cases that were referred to courts in 2016,” Hadban said.

He added that 2,044 cases were transferred to service centres across the Kingdom, and 343 were referred to administrative governors.

Turning to women in protection custody, Hadban said that 10 inmates were interviewed and “we took the necessary steps in cooperation with women groups who are dealing with this matter,” Hadban added.

As for the capital punishment and the fact that it was reactivated recently, Hadban said that “the Kingdom has adopted several measures to ensure the full rights of people on death row and for us the aim of the capital punishment is to minimise the number of crimes that claim lives and to ensure the safety of our community”.

“We consider the capital punishment as one of the most important measures to prevent crimes and ensure safety of our society, taking into consideration that Jordan has limited the application of the death penalty to the gravest crimes,” Hadban added. 

The legal counsellor for the Jordanian Notational Commission for Women, Amal Haddadin, who is part of the Kingdom’s delegation, responded to some of the questions made by the delegations.

“We have called for amending the Domestic Violence Protection Law that was introduced in 2008 because it had loopholes and it was amended again in 2017. Therefore, we should not rely on previous studies because the new law was enacted recently,” Haddadin explained.

The session was adjourned until tomorrow to hear more responses from the Jordanian delegation.

Meanwhile, the Government Coordinator of Human Rights at the Prime Ministry Basel Tarawneh, who acted as patron at the event, said that the meeting gathered “civil society representatives with the government and university students to deal with international reports and Jordanian reports as well”.

“We wanted all these representatives to gather here to hear the Jordanian report in Geneva and to allow the gathering to interact with the delegation in Geneva,” Tarawneh told The Jordan Times.

Programme Manager at the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Maha Qashou said: “We conducted this session to raise the awareness of the human rights mechanisms and also to bring Geneva to Jordan via this live broadcast”.

 

“We want people here to be aware of what is going on there and to write down the recommendations so that we can follow up on them and determine what action is needed and  what activities, events or projects to adopt in the future,” Qashou told The Jordan Times.

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