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Jordan Joins the world in celebrating International Human Rights Day
Jordan Joins the world in celebrating International Human Rights Day
Thursday, 10 December 2020

Jordan and the world celebrate today the International Human Rights Day, which falls on December 10 of each year-the day the United Nations General Assembly adopted, in 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In view of the current Covid-19 pandemic, the theme for this year is “Recover Better - Stand Up for Human Rights”.

This day is observed to highlight the need to build back better and make societies more resilient and equitable by ensuring Human Rights are central to recovery efforts. Common global goals will be reached only if equal opportunities are created for all, he failures exposed and exploited by COVID-19 are addressed, and human rights standards are applied to tackle entrenched and intergenerational inequalities, exclusion and discrimination.

HPC Secretary General pointed out that HPC attaches special importance to this day because its strategic goals are linked to the sustainable development goals and embody human rights, stressing that no progress towards sustainable development can be achieved in the absence of human dignity.

Amawi explained that Jordan has achieved international recognition, ranking first among Arab countries and 78th internationally in human rights, according to a report by Cato Institute, Fraser Institute, and the Institute of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom in 2015. These rankings are important because they come from three independent international community institutions.

Amawi indicated that despite these achievements at the Arab region and international levels, Jordanian women are still denied the right to pass their nationality to their children and the right to transfer to their children or spouse residency right in Jordan. Moreover, women lose their right as mothers to keep custody of their children if they remarry. The law stipulates that for a woman to be eligible to have custody of her children she must not be married to a person who is not a Mahram to the children. There are also numerous other human rights violations that women are subjected to.

On the other hand, Amawi added that some laws in Jordan lack effective and necessary measures enabling access to different services and facilities for persons with disabilities equally as other citizens. The Domestic Violence Law, in addition to laws that guarantee access to information and other instructions of ministries and government departments do not mention any effective measures to ensure access to different services for persons with disabilities. 

Furthermore, Amawi explained that in actual practice the percentage of employed persons with disabilities is low and estimated to not exceed 1.0% in the public sector, and 0.5% in the private sector. Amawi also acknowledged that there is an explicit discrimination against persons with disabilities in article 4 of the Nationality Law, which stipulates that an applicant for Jordanian nationality shall be “of sound mind and does not suffer from any impairment that would make them a burden on society.”

Amawi pointed out that the Jordanian constitution guarantees civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights for citizens. Articles (5-35) of the Jordanian Constitution spell out the rights and duties of Jordanians and serve as constitutional safeguards for reinforcing and protecting the principles of human rights within a legislative framework that ensures effective implementation of the constitution. Amawi noted that Jordan has been a leading country in endorsing all international conventions that safeguard fundamental human rights and freedoms.

Moreover, Amawi stressed that the right to vote and be elected, and the right to register and join syndicates, associations and political parties are among the key civil and political rights guaranteed by the Jordanian constitution. There are 31 professional syndicates, 4,869 associations, and 34957 members of political parties in Jordan according to the National Center for Human Rights report of 2018.

Amawi indicated that the constitution guarantees numerous economic, social and cultural rights for Jordanian citizens, including the right of all citizens to work. The revised economic participation rate reached 34.3%, with 54% for males and 14% for females. The right to education is also guaranteed by national legislation and endorsed international covenants. According to the statistical report of the Ministry of Education (2018-2019), the number of schools in Jordan reached 7,434, while the number of students reached 2,114,719 male and female students.

Furthermore, Amawi said that the cultural rights guaranteed by the constitution include the freedom of cultural invention and scientific research. Amawi pointed out that despite the fact that there are 672 cultural entities registered with the Ministry of Culture in 2018, the culture of innovation, creativity and scientific research is not prevalent among most groups of the population, including university and school students. On the other hand, 298 research papers were published in peer-reviewed journals in 2018, and Jordan ranked 79th globally and 9th in the Arab states region in scientific research in innovation in 2019.

As for the challenges facing Jordan in making progress on human rights issues, Amawi said that according to the report presented by Jordan for the Universal Periodic Review of 2018, the challenges at the political, security, economic and social levels include the failure to date to reach a solution to the Palestinian question, which contributes to increasing the economic, social and security impacts on the Kingdom. Other challenges include the ongoing Syrian crisis, the hosting of a large number of Syrians in the Kingdom, and the terrorist threats targeting Jordan because of its geographical location, its stable and moderate political positions and developments in the region.

Economic and social challenges include the significant additional pressures resulting from hosting Syrians and the subsequent effect on all aspects of life and infrastructure, especially water, sanitation, health, education and municipal services sectors, in addition to the burdens on the public treasury. Moreover, there are challenges in the labour market resulting from the Syrian presence, and a spread of unemployment and poverty because of the lack of economic resources.  The kingdom also suffers from a lack of water resources and climate change, and needs to provide the necessary resources and expertise to implement the Sustainable Development Goals and their human rights-related indicators, and to spread the human rights culture.

HPC noted that all communities have been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic, which has posed health, social, political and economic risks and highlighted new and intensified weaknesses that could result in more people being neglected and excluded. The theme for this year, “Recover Better - Stand Up for Human Rights”, reflects our commitment to human rights, achieving the sustainable development goals, addressing inequalities within and between states, establishing comprehensive health and social protection systems, addressing environmental degradation, enhancing institutions, addressing structural human rights violations which fed and exacerbated the consequences of the covid-19 pandemic, urgently addressing the climate emergency, and building a just, fair, inclusive and equitable world that is more resilient and better prepared to face future crises. 

HPC indicated that women in Jordan were the most affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, as they shoulder the burden of taking care of children, older persons and persons with disabilities, and such burden increased during the time of emergency and crisis. Women also face challenges in accessing sexual and reproductive health services. Moreover, women comprise the largest percentage of workers in the informal sector which was directly impacted by the pandemic.  The manufacturing and services sectors, which sustained significant losses during the pandemic, have a high concentration of female labor, putting them at risk of losing their jobs.

HPC explained that the systematic failures in healthcare systems, even in the most powerful and rich countries, along with unequal access to fundamental rights, such as health and education, have revealed major class differences within the same society. This gap will continue to expand after life returns to normal, due to the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic on the middle class and the poor. The pandemic has given rise to numerous economic, social and environmental challenges that affected everyone, but some groups were particularly more affected than others, such as persons with disabilities, older persons, women, children, refugees as well as daily paid workers who have suffered the most from the negative economic impact.