JORDAN: Persistent violations of children's rights

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Summary: The violations highlighted are those issues raised with the State by more than one international mechanism. This is done with the intention of identifying children's rights which have been repeatedly violated, as well as gaps in the issues covered by NGOs in their alternative reports to the various human rights monitoring bodies. These violations are listed in no particular order.

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Discrimination in relation to the inheritance of nationality

UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (Concluding Observations, September 2006)

The Committee welcomes the amendment of the Jordanian Passport Act in 2003 according to which women and their children may obtain passports without the written permission of their husbands. However, the Committee notes that children of Jordanian fathers acquire Jordanian nationality at birth, regardless of the child’s birthplace, but that Jordanian women cannot transmit their nationality to their children born from a marriage with a non- Jordanian man, except under special humanitarian circumstances. The Committee is concerned that in some cases this may result in statelessness.

The Committee recommends that the State party review and amend the Jordanian Nationality Act (Law No. 7 of 1954) in order to ensure that a Jordanian mother married to a non-Jordanian man has the right to confer her nationality to her children equally and without discrimination. (Paragraphs 43 and 44)

UN Human Rights Committee
Last reported: 13 and 14 October 2010
Concluding Observations issued: 18 November 2010

[…..}It is further concerned that Jordanian women cannot transmit their nationality to their children. In general, the Committee expresses its concern about the existence of stereotypes and customs in Jordan that are contrary to the principle of equality of rights between men and women and hinder the effective implementation of the Covenant (arts. 2, 3 and 26).

The State party should bring its legislation, including the Personal Status Act, into conformity with the Covenant and ensure that women are not subjected to de jure or de facto discrimination, inter alia in matters of marriage, divorce, custody of children, inheritance or the transmittal of nationality to children. (Paragraph 7)

UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
Last reported: 1 and 2 March 2012
Concluding Observations issued: 9 March 2012

The Committee is concerned that under the Jordanian Nationality Act (Law No. 7 of 1954), children of Jordanian women who are married to non-nationals are precluded from obtaining Jordanian nationality at birth. (Article 5).

The Committee recommends that the State party review and amend the Jordanian Nationality Act (Law No. 7 of 1954) in order to ensure that a Jordanian mother married to a non-Jordanian man has the right to confer her nationality to her children equally and without discrimination. In doing so, the Committee draws the State party’s attention to its General Recommendation No. 25 (2000) on the Gender Related Dimensions of Racial Discrimination. (Paragraph 11)

UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women
Country visit: 11 to 24 November 2011
Report published: 14 May 2012

Under the current Nationality Act (No. 6 of 1954), only Jordanian men can transmit their nationality to their children or their foreign spouse. Jordanian women do not enjoy this right when marrying a foreigner, although they may retain their nationality. According to Act No. 24 of 1973 on Residence and Foreigners’ Affairs, children and spouses who are not Jordanian nationals require a yearly residency permit to access government health services and must pay individual annual residency fees. Arguments in support of these provisions include that allowing women to transfer their nationality would encourage the immigration and assimilation of foreigners, which, in the case of women married to Palestinian men, would affect efforts to secure the right of return. (Paragraph 60).

The Special Rapporteur recommends that the Government:

(b) Amend the Nationality Act to grant Jordanian women the right to confer their citizenship on their children, and remove the reservation to article 9 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women with regard to granting equal rights to women with respect to nationality;

(c) Enact a new and permanent passport act that recognises the right of women to obtain passports for themselves and their children without the written permission of their husbands or guardians, as well as to travel and choose their place of residency;

(d) Approve additional amendments to the Personal Status Act to ensure that women enjoy equal right as men in issues relating to marriage, divorce and child custody; eliminate the Welaya (guardianship) system for adult women; and remove reservations to article 16, paragraph 1 (c), (d) and (g), of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women;

Universal Periodic Review (February 2009)

94. Paragraph 66(b) Recommended considering amendment of the Jordanian Nationality Act with respect to the right of children to a nationality, as the law currently does not allow a Jordanian mother married to a non-Jordanian man to confer her nationality to her children" (Japan). Rejected.

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Child labour

UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (September 2006)

The Committee commends the State party for its cooperation with ILO/IPEC, including for signing the Memorandum of Understanding with ILO for the implementation of IPEC Country Programme. It welcomes the various measures taken to address the issue of child labour in Jordan, including the 2002 amendment of the Labour Code provision on the minimum age for employment of children working in hazardous occupations which raised the minimum age to 18 years. Despite these positive measures, the Committee remains concerned about the prevalence of child labour in the State party. It notes with particular concern information that the employment of children has steadily grown in recent years, especially in agriculture. The Committee is further concerned that the protection provided by the Labour Code does not apply for children working in the informal sector (for example, in small family enterprises, agriculture and domestic labour).

In accordance with article 32 of the Convention, the Committee recommends that the State party:

(a) Continue to take effective measures to prohibit economic exploitation of children, in particular in the informal sector where the phenomenon is more prevalent, for example, by reviewing and amending the provisions of the Labour Code in order to protect children from economic exploitation through labour in the informal sector, including family enterprises, agricultural activities and domestic labour;

(b) Vigorously pursue enforcement of minimum-age standards, including requiring employers to have, and to produce on demand, proof of age of all children working on their premises;

(c) Provide the labour inspectors with all the necessary support, including child labour expertise, with a view to enabling them to monitor effectively at the State and local level the implementation of labour law standards and to receive and address complaints of violations; and

(d) Continue to seek technical assistance from ILO/IPEC. (Paragraphs 88 and 89)

UN Human Rights Committee
Last reported: 13 and 14 October 2010
Concluding Observations issued: 18 November 2010

The Committee is concerned at reports that child labour is increasing in the State party, and that the Labour Code does not provide protection for children working in family enterprises or agriculture (art. 24).

The State party should take all necessary measures to combat child labour, particularly by reviewing its legislation to ensure protection for all children, including those who work in family enterprises and agriculture. (Paragraph 17)

UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
Last reported: 15 and 16 August 2000
Concluding Observations issued: 1 September 2000

The Committee is concerned that the 1996 Labour Code does not provide any protection for persons working in family-owned and agricultural enterprises, and domestic labour. It is precisely with respect to work in these areas that protection is most needed because it often involves hazardous working conditions, and largely female and child workers. (Paragraph 20).

The Committee recommends that the Labour Code be amended to ensure that workers in family-owned enterprises, agricultural activities and domestic labour are effectively protected, and that inspections extend to these areas
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Violence against children, particularly domestic violence

UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (Concluding Observations, September 2006)

The Committee welcomes the State party’s strong commitment to prevent and respond to violence against children and several measures taken to address this issue, including the new strategy of the Ministry of Health for the countermeasures on violence against children and the establishment, in May 2006, of child protection committees at major public hospitals to investigate suspected cases of child abuse. The Committee notes with satisfaction the States party’s close collaboration with non-governmental organisations (NGO) in this field and takes note of the successful, multi-sectoral child protection programmes, including the establishment of a safety house, the Dar al-Aman, to provide protection and services for abused and neglected children.

Despite many positive steps taken by the State party, the Committee is deeply concerned that children continue to be victims of direct and/or indirect violence in the home. The Committee notes with concern the absence of reliable information and data on domestic violence and child abuse in the family. Notwithstanding the legal framework protecting children from violence and abuse, the Committee takes note of the information that no studies or research have been undertaken to assess the impact of legal measures to address violence against children. It also notes with concern that due to a rather limited number of services provided by social workers, the police usually act as a central contact point in cases of violence against children, child abuse and maltreatment, and in some cases this may hinder children from contacting authorities. However, the Committee takes note of the 24-hour a day service provided by a family defender at the police stations around the country.

In the light of article 19 and other relevant provisions of the Convention, and taking into account the recommendations of the Committee adopted on its days of general discussion on State violence against children and violence against children within the family and in schools held respectively on 22 September 2000 and 28 September 2001 (CRC/C/100, para. 866 and CRC/C/111, paras. 701-745), the Committee urges the State party to:

(a) Undertake a national study on domestic violence, ill-treatment of children and child abuse in the home assessing the scope and nature of this problem as well as the impact of legal measures to address violence against children with a view to prohibiting all forms of physical, sexual and mental violence against children, including sexual abuse in the family ;

(b) As a part of the National Plan of Action for Children, develop a comprehensive national strategy to prevent and respond to domestic violence, ill-treatment of children and child abuse, and further adopt adequate measures and policies to contribute to changing attitudes;

(c) Develop and implement an effective system for the identification, reporting and managing of child abuse and ill-treatment cases and strengthen the Family Protection Department to ensure that effective procedures and mechanisms are in place to receive, monitor and investigate complaints, including intervention where necessary, and to investigate and prosecute cases of domestic violence and ill-treatment and abuse of children, including sexual abuse within the family, within a child-sensitive judicial procedure and apply sanctions to perpetrators, with due regard given to protecting the right to privacy of the child;

(d) Facilitate access to appropriate and child-sensitive contact points and ensure that all child victims of violence and abuse have access to adequate care, shelter and/or safe house, counselling and assistance with recovery and reintegration;

(e) Provide support, including financial, technical and human resources, to expand, maintain and raise awareness of the national child helpline and to ensure that it receives a toll-free 3- or 4-digit number so that neither the helpline nor the child needs to pay for accessing helpline services;

(f) Support the Jordan River Foundation in raising awareness with the active involvement of children themselves, in order to prevent all forms of violence against children and to stop child abuse, including sexual abuse, with a view to changing public attitudes and prevailing cultural practices in this respect; and

(g) Seek assistance from, among others, UNICEF and the World Health Organisation (WHO).

In the context of the Secretary-General’s in-depth study on the question of violence against children and the related questionnaire sent to Governments, the Committee acknowledges with appreciation the written replies of the State party to this questionnaire and its participation in the Regional Consultation for the Middle East and North Africa held in Egypt from 27 to 29 June 2005 as well as in the Regional Follow-up Consultation held in Egypt from 25 to 28 March 2006. The Committee recommends that the State party use the outcome of these regional consultations as a tool for taking action, in partnership with civil society, to ensure that every child is protected from all forms of physical, sexual or mental violence and to gain momentum for concrete and, where appropriate, time-bound actions to prevent and respond to such violence and abuse.

In addition, the Committee would like to draw the States party’s attention to the report of the independent expert for the United Nations study on violence against children (A/61/299) and to encourage the State party to take all appropriate measures to implement the overarching recommendations and setting-specific recommendations contained in this report. (Paragraphs 53 to 57)

UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women
Last reported: 23 February 2012
Concluding Observation issued: 9 March 2012

While commending the State party for accepting and facilitating the visit of the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, that took place in November 2011 and while noting the State party’s intention to address effectively the Special Rapporteur’s recommendations after its careful study with relevant bodies, the Committee expresses concern at the high prevalence of violence against women in the State party, in particular domestic and sexual violence, and that this remains considerably underreported and undocumented. While welcoming the enactment in 2008 of the Domestic Violence Protection Act, the Committee is deeply concerned at the absence of specific legislation to eliminate violence against women in all settings, including a definition of violence, and at the prevalent recourse in the context of the new Act to reconciliation in cases of domestic violence, which can lead to re-victimisation of women who have suffered from violence.

The Committee urges the State party to:

(a) Ensure compliance with the recommendations of the report of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, and give high priority to putting in place comprehensive measures to address all forms of violence against women and girls; (Paragraphs 25 and 26)

UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women
Country visit: 11 to 24 November 2011
Report published: 14 May 2012

Other limitations arise from the definitions used to classify the information, as most institutions focus on ―family violence‖ and not specifically on violence perpetrated against women. Furthermore, challenges relating to underreporting prevent the authorities from having an accurate picture of the phenomenon in the country. Reasons for underreporting include, among others: fear of family fragmentation, fear of losing custody of children in the case of divorce, and fear of affecting the family’s reputation. (Paragraph 13)

According to statistics from the Family Protection Department (FPD), 6,236 cases of violence against women and children were examined in 2011.17 Of these cases, 27.5 per cent (1,664 cases) were transferred to the courts, 61 per cent (3,782 cases) were transferred to the Department’s Social Services Office, and 12.5 per cent (790 cases) were transferred to governors. The total amount of cases handled by the Department has steadily increased, from 4,312 cases in 2008 to 6,416 in 2009, and 8,605 in 2010, with cases of violence against adult women increasing from 675 in 2007 to 1,306 in 2010. However, the proportion of cases referred to the above-mentioned institutions (courts, social services and governors) has largely remained unchanged.18 (Paragraph 14)

Since 2007, the Department has examined 8,028 cases of sexual, physical and other forms of violence against women and girls. Of the 4,975 cases involving adult women, 1,061 were cases of sexual abuse, and 3,914 were cases of physical abuse. It is clear that these statistics show a steady increase in the total number of cases received by the Department, but it is unclear if this increase is a result of greater awareness and reporting among victims, or an increase in the prevalence of family violence. (Paragraph 15)

With regard to sexual violence, most interviewees stated that this is not a major problem in the country. According to information provided by NCHR, there were 67 reported cases of rape during 2010. The women’s movement managed to push for changes in the Penal Code during 2010 and penalties were increased for perpetrators in cases where victims are under the age of 18, have a disability or are under the care or legal authority of the perpetrator. Through Law No. 8 of 2011, article 292 of the Penal Code was amended to include harsher sentences for all cases of rape, and particularly for cases in which victims are minors. Marital rape is not a crime under the Penal Code. (Paragraph 17)

Finally, specific structures to address violence in the family have been established at the ministerial level in at least three crucial ministries:

(b) The Ministry of Social Development is the main institution in charge of providing women victims of violence with services, in cooperation with non-governmental organisations. In 2007, the Ministry established the Dar Al Wifaq shelter to provide lodging and protection for women victims of domestic violence and their children. It is currently leading intergovernmental efforts to establish a new centre for, in particular, women who are at risk as regards so-called honour killings. As with most of the institutional efforts to address this issue, the main goal of the Ministry is to achieve family reconciliation between survivors and their families;

(c) Within the Ministry of Health, the Woman and Child Health Directorate has a specific section on domestic violence, which has designed and disseminated specialised manuals and training for medical service providers to identify and refer cases of family violence against women and children. Pilot programmes have been launched in three hospitals and six health centres in Amman, Zarka and Irbid, and Family Protection Committees have been established in each of these institutions, with specialised medical staff in collaboration with forensic medicine specialists. The Forensic Medicine Directorate within the Ministry has played a pivotal role in raising awareness and providing technical expertise in the identification and proper handling of domestic violence cases. (Paragraph 78 b and c)

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Trafficking of children

UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (Concluding Observations, September 2006)

The Committee regrets the lack of data on the extent and magnitude of commercial sexual exploitation of children and trafficking in children for exploitative purposes in the State party. It also regrets the insufficient legal protection of boys below the age of 18 against commercial sexual exploitation and the absence of a specific legal framework to protect children from trafficking.

In order to prevent commercial sexual exploitation of children and to combat trafficking in children for sexual and other exploitative purposes, the Committee recommends that the State party:

(a) Conduct a comprehensive study to assess the nature and magnitude of the commercial sexual exploitation of children and trafficking in children and, based on the findings and recommendations of the study, develop and adopt a comprehensive national plan of action to prevent and combat sexual exploitation of and trafficking in children;

(b) Review and amend the provisions of the Penal Code to provide equal protection to boys and girls below the age of 18 against commercial sexual exploitation; and

(c) Strengthen its efforts and legislation to identify and investigate trafficking cases, to improve understanding of the issues of trafficking and ensure that perpetrators are prosecuted. (Paragraphs 92 and 93)

UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women
Last reported: 23 February 2012
Concluding Observations issued: 9 March 2012

While welcoming the adoption by the State party of the Human Trafficking Act in 2009 and consequently the adoption of a national strategy to combat human trafficking, the Committee expresses its concern that the new Act does not define adequately human trafficking, and at the continuing prevalence of trafficking in women and girls in the State party, as well as at the low reporting rate and the lack of data on the magnitude of human trafficking. The Committee is also concerned at the lack of shelters and counselling assistance for victims of trafficking and prostitution.

The Committee recommends that the State party:

(a) Includes in its Act on Human Trafficking a comprehensive definition of trafficking, as well as safeguards for investigation, prosecution and punishment of such acts in accordance with the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish, Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime, and adopt effective measures for the implementation of the Act and its national strategy, including by providing training to the judiciary, prosecution and police officials on this law to ensure its strict application;

(b) Collects data on incidents of trafficking and on victims who have been detained, prosecuted or deported since 2009 for acts such as prostitution; and

(c) Ensures that trafficked women and girls, including foreign domestic workers who had become victims of trafficking, have access to quality medical care, counselling and shelter. (Paragraph 29 and 30).

UN Committee against Torture
Last reported: 29 and 30 April 2010

While welcoming the adoption, in 2009, of the Human Trafficking Prohibition Act No. 9 which criminalises all forms of human trafficking, the Committee expresses its concern at reports of trafficking in women and children for sexual and other exploitative purposes. The Committee is also concerned at the general lack of information on the extent of trafficking in the State party, including the number of complaints, investigations, prosecutions and convictions of perpetrators of trafficking, as well as on the concrete measures adopted to prevent and combat such phenomena. (arts. 1, 2, 4, 12 and 16).

The State party should increase its efforts to prevent and combat trafficking of women and children, including by implementing the current laws combating trafficking, providing protection for victims and ensuring their access to medical, social, rehabilitative and legal services, including counselling services, as appropriate. The State party should also create adequate conditions for victims to exercise their right to make complaints, conduct prompt, impartial and effective investigations into all allegations of trafficking and ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice and punished with penalties appropriate to the nature of their crimes. (Paragraph 22)

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Discrimination against firls in access to education

UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (Concluding Observations, September 2006)Despite the efforts of the State party to address the issue of equality between sexes, the Committee notes with concern that the persistence of stereotypical attitudes concerning the roles and responsibilities of women and men still constitute an impediment to the full enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by girls. The Committee is also concerned that due to the traditional roles of women and men in Jordanian society, the education of girls is not seen as such a valuable investment as the education of boys.

The Committee recommends that the State party continue to address the problems faced by the girl child and to campaign and raise awareness among the population regarding the equality of girls and boys. The Committee suggests that local, religious and other leaders be invited to take a more active role in supporting the efforts to prevent and eliminate discrimination against the girl child and to provide guidance to communities in this regard. The Committee also recommends that the State party promote the inclusiverole of women in society, inter alia, by developing school curricula, such as recommended by the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women in its observations on the first and second periodic reports of Jordan at its twenty-second session in 2000 (A/55/38, paras.139-193). (Paragraphs 31 and 32)

UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women
Last reported: 23 February 2012
Concluding Observation issued: 9 March 2012

The Committee commends the State party for the gains achieved in the education of girls and women, as reflected in the high literacy rate (90%), and for raising the age for free and compulsory education to 16 years. The Committee is, however, concerned about the limited access married young women have to school education, and about the segregation of fields of study at the post-secondary level, with women and girls concentrated in traditionally feminine areas, as well as at their under-representation in technical-vocational education and its consequences on their representation in the paid labour force. While aware of the on-going review of school curricula and textbooks, the Committee is also highly concerned about the remaining traditional images of women’s roles and responsibilities in school books and curricula that perpetuate girls and women’s disadvantaged status.

The Committee urges the State party to:

(a) Amend the regulations of the Ministry of Education so as to allow young women’s access to compulsory and free education without discrimination;

(b) Give high priority in implementing measures to eliminate traditional stereotypes and structural barriers that might deter the enrolment of girls in non- traditional fields of education at the secondary and tertiary levels of the education system, and in providing career counselling for girls that expose them to options related to non-traditional career paths in science-related professions and that correspond to market demands; and ;

(c) Intensify its efforts in reviewing school textbooks and curricula of all school levels to avoid conveying stereotyped images of the roles of women. (Paragraph 35 and 36)

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Inadequate sexual and reproductive health education and restrictive and punitive abortion laws

UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (Concluding Observations, September 2006)

The Committee notes with satisfaction that the majority of Jordanian adolescents consider themselves to be in good health. However, it notes with concern that adolescents have a limited knowledge of reproductive health issues and that their dental care has not improved.

The Committee recommends that the State party strengthen its efforts to promote adolescent health, including sex and reproductive health education in schools and in other appropriate places frequented by children. It recommends that the State party take all necessary measures to strengthen dental health care services for adolescents. (Paragraphs 64 and 65)

UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women
Last reported: 23 February 2012
Concluding Observation issued: 9 March 2012

The Committee is highly concerned that abortion in the State party remains illegal in cases of rape and incest, and thus, women seek unsafe and illegal abortions. The Committee is also concerned at the limited access to sexual and reproductive health and rights education for young, unmarried, and rural women. The Committee further expresses its concern at the insufficient health and rehabilitation services to women victims of sexual abuse and at the State party’s overreliance on civil society actors in that respect.

The Committee recommends the State party, in line with its general recommendation No. 24 on women and health (1999), to amend its Public Health Law and allow abortion in cases of rape and incest with a view to protecting the best interests of the victim, and to remove punitive measures imposed on women who undergo abortion in such cases. The Committee calls upon the State party to ensure the provision of skilled medical aid and health facilities to women and girls suffering from health complications due to unsafe abortions; expand the provision of education on sexual and reproductive health and rights, in particular to young women and also in rural areas; and, assume primary responsibility in providing health assistance and rehabilitation services to women victims of sexual abuse while maintaining cooperation with civil society actors. (Paragraph 39 and 40).

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Early marriage

UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (Concluding Observations, September 2006)

The Committee welcomes article 2 of the draft Child Rights Act, which defines a child “as any person, male or female, under 18 years of age”. As regards the minimum age of marriage and the Committees previous recommendation in this regard (CRC/C/15/Add.125, paras.27-28), the Committee notes with appreciation the amendment of the interim Personal Status Act (Law No. 82 of 2001) which sets the minimum age for marriage at 18 years for both sexes. However, the Committee is concerned that, notwithstanding the law amendment and the media campaigns aimed at raising awareness of the health risks and adverse social effects of early marriage, in some communities girls as young as 14 and 15 may be married with the consent of a guardian and a judge.

The Committee recommends that the State party strengthen its efforts to effectively implement the amended provision of the interim Personal Status Act (Law No. 82 of 2001) which sets the minimum age for marriage at 18 years for both sexes. The Committee also recommends that the State party address the poverty related parental pressure placed on girls to marry at an early age and continue to undertake awareness-raising campaigns concerning the many negative consequences resulting from early marriages in order to fully prevent this practice. (Paragraphs 27 and 28)

UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women
Last reported: 23 February 2012
Concluding Observation issued: 9 march 2012

The Committee is further concerned that early marriage remains lawful and, that girls can marry in exceptional cases at the age of 15 years, which, among others reasons leads to girls dropping out of school. The Committee is also concerned about the persistent discrimination against women and girls in inheritance, both as daughters and as widows. The Committee also notes that property relations are governed by a regime of separate property, and that this could discriminate against women. The Committee further notes the lack of a civil code for family matters.

The Committee recommends the State party to review the discriminatory provisions of the Personal Status Act and, in particular, to:

(c) Prevent the practice of early marriage in all societal groups, with a view to prioritising the best interests of girls, inter alia, their right to education;

(d) Continue its efforts to enable girls and women to inherit on equal basis with their male counterparts, and to enact legal provisions to ensure that upon dissolution of marriage, women have equal rights over acquired property during marriage in line with article 16 of the Convention. (Paragraph 49 and 50)

UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women
Country visit: 11 to 24 November 2011
Report published: 14 May 2012

Amendments made to the Personal Status Act in 2001 and 2010 have introduced a number of changes for women, which are considered extremely positive by several advocates, as they refer to controversial issues that had not been open to discussion previously. For example, the minimum age of marriage was increased for both boys and girls to 18 years of age. However, the Special Rapporteur was informed that the marriage of a girl over 15 years of age can still be approved by a judge if he or she finds such marriage to be in the best interest of the girl. This provision is exclusive to girls and therefore highly discriminatory, as it reinforces views of girls having different rates of physical and intellectual development than boys, and further obstructs girls’ possibilities of completing their education before marriage (Paragraph 63)

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Low minimum age of criminal responsibility

UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (Concluding Observations, September 2006)

[The Committee] notes with concern that:

(a) Despite the information from the State party that efforts are being made to raise the age of criminal responsibility to 10 years, the minimum age of criminal responsibility is still too low (7 years);

The Committee recommends that the State party continue and strengthen its efforts to ensure the full implementation of juvenile justice standards, in particular articles 37, 40 and 39 of the Convention and other relevant international standards in this area, such as the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice (the Beijing Rules), the United Nations Guidelines for the Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency (the Riyadh Guidelines) and the United Nations Rules for the Protection of Juveniles Deprived of Their Liberty (the Havana Rules), taking into account the recommendations adopted by the Committee on its day of general discussion on juvenile justice held on 13 November 1995 (CRC/C/46, paras. 203-238). It recommends that the State party:

(a) Urgently raise the minimum age of criminal responsibility to an internationally acceptable level; (Paragraphs 94 and 95)

UN Committee against Torture
Last reported: 29 and 30 April 2010

The Committee welcomes the efforts made by the State party to reform its juvenile justice system. However, the Committee notes with concern that, despite the information provided that the provisions of the Juvenile Act are being amended to raise the age of criminal responsibility to 12 years, the minimum age of criminal responsibility (7 years) remains below international standards, and there is a lack of alternatives to imprisonment. Furthermore, the Committee notes with concern that a juvenile who commits a crime with an adult is tried before the court competent to hear the charges against the adult. (arts. 2, 11 and 16) .

The State party should, as a matter of urgency, raise the minimum age of criminal responsibility in order to bring it in line with the generally accepted international standards. The State party should also take all necessary measures to develop and implement a comprehensive system of alternative measures to ensure that deprivation of liberty of juveniles is used only as a measure of last resort, for the shortest possible time and in appropriate conditions. Furthermore, the State party should ensure that juveniles are tried before juvenile courts. (Paragraph 26)

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Use of deprivation of liberty of children as otherwise than a last resort

UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (Concluding Observations, September 2006)

[The Committee] notes with concern that:

(b) Due to the lack of alternative sentence, deprivation of liberty is not used as a last resort;

The Committee recommends that the State party continue and strengthen its efforts to ensure the full implementation of juvenile justice standards, in particular articles 37, 40 and 39 of the Convention and other relevant international standards in this area, such as the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice (the Beijing Rules), the United Nations Guidelines for the Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency (the Riyadh Guidelines) and the United Nations Rules for the Protection of Juveniles Deprived of Their Liberty (the Havana Rules), taking into account the recommendations adopted by the Committee on its day of general discussion on juvenile justice held on 13 November 1995 (CRC/C/46, paras. 203-238). It recommends that the State party:

(b) Strengthen its efforts to implement the Juvenile Justice Reform Programme and to ensure that it conforms fully with the principles and provisions of the Convention; and develop and implement a comprehensive system of alternative measures such as community service orders and interventions of restorative justice in order to ensure that deprivation of liberty is used only as a measure of last resort; (Paragraphs 94 and 95)

UN Committee against Torture
Last reported: 29 and 30 April 2010

The State party should also take all necessary measures to develop and implement a comprehensive system of alternative measures to ensure that deprivation of liberty of juveniles is used only as a measure of last resort, for the shortest possible time and in appropriate conditions. Furthermore, the State party should ensure that juveniles are tried before juvenile courts. (Paragraph 26)

UN Special rapporteur on Torture
Country visit: 25 to 29 June 2006
Report published: 5 January 2007

The only prison where the Special Rapporteur did not receive allegations of ill-treatment is Juweidah (Female) Correction and Rehabilitation Centre, where he was satisfied with the commitment of the prison management to the well-being of the inmates. Nevertheless, the Special Rapporteur, after talking to women concerned, is highly critical of the current policy of taking females under the provisions of the Crime Prevention Law into “protective” detention because they are at risk of becoming victims of an honour crime. According to the Special Rapporteur, depriving innocent women and girls of their liberty for as long as 14 years can only be qualified as inhuman treatment, and is highly discriminatory. (Paragraph 39)

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Killings in the name of “honour”
UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (Concluding Observations, September 2006)

The Committee is alarmed by the reported cases of crimes committed against girls in the name of “honour”. It expresses its serious concern at articles 340, 98 and 99 of the Penal Code, which provide for a reduction in penalty for the “honour” crime cases. The Committee is concerned about the possibility of further reducing the sentence if the victim’s family “waives” its right to file a complaint of the crime (article 99 of the Penal Code). While noting the State party’s efforts to provide protection for women and girls who are victims of or at the risk of “honour” crimes, the Committee is also concerned at the insufficient number of accessible shelters and counselling services.

The Committee urges the State party to:

(a) Review the provisions of the Penal Code with a view to eliminating all provisions for reductions in sentence for crimes committed for “honour”;

(b) Undertake public awareness-raising campaigns, involving also religious and community leaders, to combat effectively discriminatory societal attitudes and harmful traditions with respect to girls by demonstrating that such practices are unacceptable;

(c) Provide special training and resources to law enforcement personnel with a view to protecting girls who are in danger of “honour killing” and to prosecuting such cases in a more effective way; and

(d) Increase the number of accessible shelters and counselling services for women and girls who are victims of or at the risk of “honour” crimes. (Paragraphs 38 and 39)

UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women
Country visit: 11 to 24 November 2011
Report published: 14 May 2012

An important gain made by the women’s rights movement was the amendment of article 340 of the Penal Code in 2001, which no longer exonerates perpetrators of crimes committed in the name of ―honour‖. However, perpetrators of such crimes may still get more lenient sentences under other Penal Code articles, such as article 98, which reduces penalties for crimes committed in a fit of rage, and article 99, which reduces by half a perpetrator’s sentence when he is excused by the victim’s family. Interviews with women at risk in both the Juweidah Reform and Rehabilitation Centre and the Dar Al Wifaq women’s shelter revealed that family members, particularly younger brothers, are the main perpetrators of violence and killings committed in the name of honour. Both activists and government officials explained how families who are already grieving the loss of their daughters, and wishing to avoid further pain, might decide to renounce their right to seek justice and have the perpetrator released from prison earlier. According to a study conducted by NCFA, of 50 cases of murder of women committed between 2000 and 2010, in 78 per cent of the cases perpetrators benefited from reduced sentences due to families waiving their personal rights.2 (Paragraph 25)

While perpetrators of honour killing may still benefit from some loopholes in the law with regard to sentencing, some criminal courts have increasingly issued stricter sentences of up to 10 years in prison. Additionally, the amendments made to the Penal Code in 2011 created article 308 bis, which establishes the inadmissibility of mitigating factors if the victim is under 18 years old (A/HRC/20/16/Add.5). Furthermore, in July 2009 the Ministry of Justice established specialised units within five courts to hear cases involving so-called honour crimes, which will hopefully create more responsive jurisprudence on the matter and improve and expedite efforts to bring perpetrators to justice. (Paragraph 26)

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Barriers to access to education for refugee and asylum-seeking children

UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (Concluding Observations, September 2006)

Despite the fact that the State party support universal education for all children, the Committee notes with particular concern that asylum-seeking and refugee children have restricted access to primary education. Reports that Jordanian public schools do not accept Iraqi refugee students and that private schools only accept Iraqis possessing residency permits are issues of serious concern to the Committee.

The Committee recommends, referring to articles 2, 22 and 28 of the Convention, that the State party take urgent measures to ensure that asylum-seeking and refugee children have access to free primary education. (Paragraphs 81 and 82)

UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women
Country visit: 11 to 24 November 2011
Report published: 14 May 2012

The Special Rapporteur visited Jerash camp, near Amman, where a large number of ex-Gazan refugees live and where she met with refugee women, service providers, teachers and young refugee students. Most of the interviewees are part of a third generation of ex- Gazan refugees who were born and raised in Jordan. (Paragraph 40)

With regard to higher education, Gazan refugees are considered as international students, which means they have to pay higher fees in both undergraduate and postgraduate programmes at universities. The only exception is for those refugees who manage to obtain a seat through a Royal Quota that reserves 5 per cent of public university seats for refugee camp residents in the country. It is therefore very difficult for ex-Gazan refugee girls to find a place in public university, and if they do, it is not necessarily in the faculty of their choice. For most of them, the prospect of attending private university is unthinkable due to the impossibility of paying the high fees (Paragraph 43)

During interviews with ex-Gazan refugee girls and women, the Special Rapporteur heard about the effects that these restrictions have on refugee women, particularly in terms of facing extra pressure to marry early as a means to lessen the economic burden on their highly disadvantaged families. Another concern shared by refugee girls in Jerash is how parents sometimes prioritise the education of their male children, because (a) it will be easier for the young men to find jobs, and (b) they feel their daughters will ultimately get married and, if employed, will contribute their salaries to their husband’s families, and not their own. (Paragraph 45)

This forces refugee girls and women to perpetuate a cycle of economic dependence on their male relatives and restricts them from achieving the financial independence that would be required for them to gain their own livelihood, which is particularly important if they face a situation of abuse. (Paragraph 46)

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Lack of a legal framework for the protection of refugee and asylum-seeking children

UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (Concluding Observations, September 2006)

The Committee expresses concern at the absence of a legal framework for the protection of refugee and asylum-seeking children in Jordan. In particular, the Committee regrets that the State party has not acceded to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Optional Protocol, nor to the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons or to the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness.

In the light of articles 3 and 22 and other relevant provisions of the Convention, the Committee recommends that the State party accede to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol as well as to the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons and to the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness and develop a legislative framework for the protection of asylum-seeking and refugee children, particularly unaccompanied children. (Paragraphs 79 and 80)

UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women
Country visit: 11 to 24 November 2011
Report published: 14 May 2012

Refugee women are affected by the same conservative attitudes that prevent Jordanian women from taking full advantage of their legal rights and that stigmatise victims of abuse. Refugee women also suffer from legal inequalities with respect to marriage, divorce and child custody. With regard to sexual and gender-based violence, not only do refugee women fear the same social stigma and shame associated with these types of crimes, but their unwillingness to report and seek justice is exacerbated by the uncertainty of their status in the country. (Paragraph 51)

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Inequality between men and women with regards to parental responsibilities

UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (Concluding Observations, September 2006)

While noting the provisions regarding parents’ responsibilities, particularly the provisions of the Penal Code and the Labour Code, the Committee is concerned that parental responsibilities are not assigned equally, under law, to fathers and mothers and that unmarried mothers and their children are not entitled to same benefits as married mothers and children born in wedlock. While noting with concern that the awareness of some parents regarding certain aspects of a child’s development is weak, the Committee welcomes the fact that one of the goals of the Early Childhood Development Strategy in Jordan is to improve parental skills. As regards parental responsibilities of both spouses, the Committee commends the State party for promoting family counselling in the case matrimonial breakdown.

The Committee recommends that the State party consider revising domestic laws to ensure that men and women have equal parental responsibilities, regardless of their marital status. It encourages the State party to continue to promote early childhood development and to increase its efforts in developing family education and awareness by, for example, providing support to parents, including training in parental guidance and joint parental responsibilities, in the light of article 18 of the Convention. The Committee also encourages the State party to continue to use and to expand mediation in family law as an alternative form of dispute resolution. (Paragraphs 49 and 50)

UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women
Country visit: 11 to 24 November 2011
Report published: 14 May 2012

Matters of personal status for Muslims in Jordan, including marriage, divorce and child custody issues, fall within the jurisdiction of sharia law, on which the Personal Status Act (No. 61 of 1976) is based. (Paragraph 61)

As regards child custody within marriage, the Personal Status Act only allows for men to act as guardians of children. After a divorce, a woman has custody of her children until they reach the age of puberty and children then decide who they wish to live with. If a woman remarries, she will lose custody of her children, who will return to their father or his family. Even when the mother has custody of a child, the father is still considered to be the legal guardian and final decision-maker with regard to issues such as the child’s education. The Act also allows fathers to prevent their children from travelling abroad with their mothers. (Paragraph 66)

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Countries

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