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Jordan human rights report reviewed, concerns identified

Gov’t vows to address loopholes by next review

By JT - Nov 08,2018 - Last updated at Nov 08,2018

AMMAN — The UN’s Human Rights Council on Thursday discussed Jordan’s third Universal Periodic Review (UPR), where recommendations to improve the human rights situation in the Kingdom focused mainly on three pillars; gender equality and raising women’s representation, freedom of expression and the Cybercrimes Law, and suspending capital punishment, with the aim of abolishing it in the future.

The council also recommended prohibiting underage marriage, and the exceptions stipulated for it in the law, guaranteeing rights for children of Jordanian women married to non-Jordanians, empowering people with disabilities as well as putting an end to torture and guaranteeing fair trials in cases where torture is claimed, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported.

Combating human trafficking and improving the situation of foreign labour and domestic workers were also among issues tackled during the session, held in Geneva.

The council had several recommendation concerning the Kingdom’s new cybercrime draft law, including dropping the definition of “hate speech” in the law’s amendments.

Countries also asked that the reservation to Article 9 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, which stipulates equal nationality rights for men and women, be eliminated. 

The Jordanian delegation presenting Jordan’s national report on human rights, chaired by the government’s human rights coordinator, Basel Tarawneh, presented Jordan’s achievements in the human rights arena since the last UPR of the Kingdom four years ago.

In regards to women’s rights, the reports highlights repealing Article 308 of the Criminal Code, exempting a rapist from punishment if he marries his victim, as well as efforts to limit the number of underage marriages, such as training courses and awareness sessions.

Tarawneh noted in his presentation to the council that the number of women assuming leadership positions in the Kingdom has risen, highlighting the increase in women’s representation in Parliament to reach 15.4 per cent in the 2016 elections.

For freedom of expression, Jordan’s report notes that the Comprehensive National Human Rights Plan (2016 – 2025) includes in its seventh objective “strengthening protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression”, through reviewing the Criminal Code by abolishing custodial sentences, respecting the rights, reputation and private life of others and combating any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred and prohibiting in the relevant legislation the arrest of journalists for expressing their opinions orally, in writing and through other means of expression.

Tarawneh also highlighted the media national strategy for 2011-2015, which met local media outlet’s demands and aimed to enable the public and private media sectors to professionally express the country’s and the citizens’ concerns.

The head of the delegation said that the UPR recommendations will be incorporated within a national framework to improve the human rights situation in Jordan, in line with the 2016-2025 national plan for human rights, according to Petra.

“Jordan recognises that an advanced level of human rights contributes to achieving stability and enhancing world peace and security,” Tarawneh said.

He also said that challenges that encounter Jordan did not weaken its determination to proceed with human rights reforms, adding that Jordan balanced between security, peace, anti-terrorism and the consolidation of human rights.

In a phone call with Tarawneh, Prime Minister Omar Razzaz stressed the importance of working to enforce what best serves the Kingdom in the field of human rights and instructed the delegation to exert further efforts and to engage in consultations with “stakeholders” in Geneva, Petra reported.

Razzaz also stressed the importance of translating into facts on the ground the lessons learned before the Human Rights Council and benefitting from the positive outcomes that advance the human rights march in Jordan.

Middle East and North Africa Director at The UN Office for the High Commissioner for Human Rights Mohammad Ensour said that the representatives of the three countries in charge of Jordan’s UPR — Afghanistan, Venezuela and Iceland — will review all recommendations made on Thursday, and release a report Monday to be presented to the Jordanian government.

Among these recommendations were also some concerning holding torture trials at civil courts instead of police courts, providing legal aid for detainees and amending the labour law in accordance with international standards. 

The government will look into the recommendations and approve either completely or partially to their articles, Ensour added, noting that the approved recommendations will be implemented in the coming three years, in preparation for the next UPR.

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