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Jordan's civil society demand respect for human rights

Daoud Kuttab photo
Daoud KuttabAmman, JORDAN
Jordan's civil society demand respect for human rights
Jordan's civil society organizations are calling on the government to respect human rights including the right of expression and meeting

Global governance policies have been developing and evolving in years. Not only does democratic tradition require the genuine respect of the independence of the three branches of government but there is added feeling that two other sectors are important: an independent media and a robust civil society. The need to respect the constitutional guarantee of freedom of expression. At least three individuals are still being held without bail for their opinion. For the sixth consecutive time, the request for releasing Sahib Nasrallah, Malek Jizawi and Mohammad Abu Ajjaj

By continuously denying well-known individuals bail, makes little sense except that the detentions are nothing less than a form of punishment. Those detained have been held since last July when they protested the now-forgotten (and failed) Bahrain Economic Workshop which Jordan had sent a low-level delegate to.

This week more detentions have been made and again bail was denied leading many activists in arguing that their arrest is a result of their political thoughts rather than any other reason.

Civil society organizations have been trying to protest these undemocratic have decided not to restrict their positions by issuing statements but to begin participating in public protests because they have been disappointed that the government is not taking their advice, reports and public statements seriously.

For their part the government of Omar Razzaz they note that they have been trying to deal with these challenges and are trying to review how citizens and there are being handled. Among the government’s arguments is the fact that a number of well-respected human rights activists have been included in the new board of the Human Rights Council to which the prime minister visited to signal his support for their work. Another example of the government’s principled position was the recent appointment of Abeer Dabaneh head of gender and women’s rights institute at the Jordan University. Dababneh was appointed as the government coordinator for human rights. She spoke recently at an event in Amman, organized by the Netherlands Institute for Multi-Party Democracy and funded by the European Union insisting that the Razzaz government is serious about protecting rights of citizens.

The Razzaz government has also created an ad hoc committee that will review the controversial Cybercrime law which has been used to justify the detention of journalists and activists based on what they publish on their digital accounts. Some have argued that this should have been done before the government approved the law in the first place to which many have argued would curtail freedoms.

The important role of independent civil society organizations is doubled because of the weakness of the Jordanian legislative branch and their inability to take independent positions including having to take on the government and its positions whenever the latter acts in a way to curtail the rights of citizens. With little signs appearing that a reformed election law is being considered, this means that if elections take place in 2020 according to the current law, we are unlikely to expect that the new lawmakers would be much different in personnel and practice from the current weak parliament.

In reviewing this year’s report on the state of the press in Jordan, Nidal Mansour director of the Center for the Defence of Journalists explained the problem facing Jordan in the way it deals with the issue of freedoms. Jordan has all the elements needed to become a democratic country except for its inability to make it clear where it stands and to put an end to the hesitant policy which has clear signals of being principled about defending freedoms then it retracts and breaks its own principles.

The Jordanian leadership needs to decide where it stands in terms of guaranteeing the freedom of expression, meeting and political activities. The first step in this direction requires the release of every single citizen of Jordan held because of their thoughts, ideas, and political pronouncements. Prison is for criminals and terrorists and not for political activists.

##Jordan, ##human rights, ##Expression, ##Right to meet