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The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan has a particular status in the Middle East region. The head of state, Abdullah II of Jordan, is highly respected as a guarantor of stability and in the role of mediator in conflicts, not only in the Arab world. The kingdom earned international approval for its response to the 2011 protests in particular. A number of reforms and constitutional amendments were initiated as a result of these events. They included the establishment of a Constitutional Court, which started work in 2012.
Despite these clear reform efforts, the kingdom is still facing enormous economic challenges. The influx of refugees, the collapse of traditional sales markets in Syria and Iraq and pressure from international donors have exacerbated the already challenging economic environment. An example of this are the cuts in subsidies for basic food that took effect in spring 2018, as well as the submission of a proposal to parliament for an increase in income tax to ease the strain on the public coffers. In May 2018, the government plans led to the most widespread protests since 2011 and eventually precipitated the resignation of Prime Minister Hani Al-Mulki. In office since June 2018, his successor Omar Al-Razzaz has announced further reform efforts, especially in the area of rule of law and policy to combat corruption. A cabinet reshuffle took place in October 2018, during which Bassam Toulhani was appointed the new Minister of Justice. He had already held this office from 2013 to 2016.
Since the start of project work in Jordan in 2006, the IRZ has been supporting various institutions within the Jordanian judiciary by providing basic and further training, as well as advisory measures.
The Constitutional Court is an important partner. Even after more than six years since starting work, it requires support in the form of exchange of experience in order to ensure a holistic appreciation of the Court‘s particular position within the judicial system and its significance for the rule of law. This applies especially to the relationship between the Constitutional Court, the Court of Cassation, as well as the jurisdiction of the ordinary courts in general. The Court of Cassation also has need for counselling. Although the court is fully operational and accepted, there is a lack of consistent case-law, which leads to deficits in respect of legal certainty.
The IRZ provides assistance in several areas of the penitentiary system. In particular, the IRZ has provided counselling in the field of resocialisation of inmates, beginning with the preparation of penitentiary plans to basic and further training opportunities during detention, re-integration measures after release from prison and cooperation with civil society.
Workshops and expert talks are held with the General Prosecutor‘s Office in Amman as part of the project work, which now focus more strongly on the area of criminal law in Jordan. In this regard, there is a special need for counselling, especially in the field of fighting organised crime and in particular on methods and strategies, as well as on the creation of synergies between stakeholders and the formation of a broad network at national and international level.
The work of the IRZ continues to be supported not only by grants from the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection, but also by project support from the Federal Foreign Office. From 2014 to 2016, the IRZ already implemented a project for promoting the rule of law in Jordan as part of the transformation partnership for North Africa and the Middle East. The current project that began in late 2017 to provide further training for judiciary staff as a stabilising element in the rule of law in Jordan will continue until 2019.
Foci of Activity in 2018
Constitutional Law/Human Rights and their Enforceability
Study trip by a delegation of judges from the Jordanian Constitutional Court and Court of Cassation to Karlsruhe and Strasbourg on the topics of: “The position of the Constitutional Court within general jurisdiction“ and “Interaction between the Court of Cassation with the lower courts“
Administration of Justice
Colloquium in Amman on the topic “Training of trainers: soft skills in judicial practice, prioritising the establishment of facts before court“ in Amman
Criminal Law and Penitentiary Law
Seminar on the topic “Fighting organised crime“ in Amman
Seminar on the topics “Preparing for resocialisation: classification of inmates and rehabilitation plan for prisoners“, as well as “Inclusion of external stakeholders (from government and civil society) within the resocialisation process“ in Amman
Study trip to Berlin on the topic “Classification, penitentiary plan and inclusion of external stakeholders for the successful resocialisation of released prisoners“
Exchange of experience in Amman on legal cooperation at international level and on mutual assistance procedures in the area of criminal law
Expert talks in Amman on international legal assistance in criminal matters based on international and bilateral treaties
Cooperation with the Jordanian partners will proceed within the framework of the institutional subsidy from the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection, as well as with funding from the Federal Foreign Office. As part of the project funded by the Federal Foreign Office within the context of the transformation partnership in particular, strong support and counselling will continue to be provided to the project partners Constitutional Court, Court of Cassation and the Judicial Academy during the first quarter of 2019. A suitable follow-up application is currently being prepared and should contain more profound measures in cooperation with the law enforcement authorities, the General Prosecutor‘s Office and the Ministry of Justice. Priorities within this cooperation will be fighting organised crime, policy to combat corruption, the implementation of international standards within the penitentiary system, as well as international legal assistance in criminal matters.
The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan continues to enjoy relative political and economic stability in the Middle East region and is involved in peace initiatives for the region in a committed and constructive manner. Jordan’s role as a mediator is of great importance in view of its proximity to Syria, Iraq and above all Israel and the Palestinian territories, especially given that a large part of the population is of Palestinian origin. Jordan enjoys a high reputation among its neighbours and is regarded as a trusted mediator in political conflicts. This applies both to the Arab-Israeli situation of tension as well as to conflicts between Arab countries, as has recently been shown in the crisis between Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
However, the country continues to face immense political, economic and social challenges. The consequences of the war in neighbouring Syria and Iraq are particularly damaging. Jordan is considered to be the preferred refuge for people threatened by war. Meanwhile, more than one million refugees have found protection in Jordan. There is also a growing risk of terrorism. The social and economic pressure is enormous. The latter is aggravated even more by the interruption of economic relations with trading partners in the region (e. g. Iraq and Egypt). Against this backdrop, Jordanian public opinion is increasingly focusing on security considerations as opposed to the granting of civil liberties. The results of the parliamentary elections held in September 2016, which were organised under the new proportional representation system and were described by a majority of international observers as transparent, despite the low voter turnout, give rise to hopes of a perpetuation of the reform process that has already begun in order to be able to continue work on strengthening the principles of the rule of law. The rule of law is to be regarded as one of several factors in reducing the causes of flight and migration throughout the region and therefore deserves special attention.
Since the start of project work in Jordan in 2006, the IRZ has been supporting various Jordanian judicial institutions with training and further education measures for legal practitioners. It also promotes mutual professional exchange through bilateral and multilateral expert discussions. The IRZ already maintains a proven and successful long-term cooperation with the Jordanian Constitutional Court, the penitentiary authority and the Judicial Academy, which is to be continued. In the year under review, the IRZ was able to win over the Jordanian Court of Cassation and the Amman Public Prosecutor’s Office as new project partners, which will be part of the cooperation from now on.
Even more than four years after starting work, the Constitutional Court still needs support in the form of an exchange of experience in order to fully grasp the special position of the court in the judiciary and its significance for the rule of law. This concerns the relationship between the Constitutional Court and the Court of Cassation above all but also the ordinary courts in general. The role of the Constitutional Court in Jordan’s judicial system – in particular its distinction from ordinary judiciary – has still not been consolidated. The Court of Cassation also requires further consultation. The Supreme Court is fully operational and accepted, but there is a lack of uniform case-law, so that in most cases there is no legal certainty. This is due to the fact that, in similar cases, the various chambers of the court of first instance come to completely contradictory decisions in some events, because the interaction of the lower courts with the Supreme Court is not efficient.
The IRZ provides support in several fields of work in the area of the penitentiary system. This extends on the one hand to professional and specialised training courses for the staff (e. g. psychological training for the daily handling and care of prisoners). In addition, there is a need for counselling in the field of the social rehabilitation of prisoners, from drawing up penitentiary plans to basic and further training opportunities during detention to re-integration measures after the release from prison and cooperation with civil society.
Workshops and expert talks are to be held with the Amman Public Prosecutor General’s Office in order to focus more strongly on the criminal law field as part of the project work in Jordan. In this area, there is an increased need for consultation particularly in the field of combating organised crime, especially on respective methods and strategies, as well as the creation of synergies between players and the formation of a broad network at national and international level.
The work of the IRZ continues to be supported not only by grants from the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection but also by project funding from the Federal Foreign Office. From 2014 to 2016, the IRZ already implemented a project to promote the rule of law in Jordan as part of the transformation partnership for North Africa and the Middle East. The IRZ is continuing the work begun there in the period 2017 to 2019 with a follow-up project on the topic of judicial further training as a stabilising element of the rule of law.
Foci of Activity 2017
Constitutional Law/Human Rights and their Enforceability
Regional Conference “The Position of the Constitutional Court within the Judiciary” in Amman (multilateral exchange of experience with members of the Federal Constitutional Court, the Constitutional Court of the Kingdom of Morocco and experts in constitutional law from Tunisia)
Administration of Justice
“Train-the-Trainer” seminar “Methodology and didactics for seminars in the judicial field” in Amman
Criminal Law and Penitentiary Law
Study trip to Berlin on the subject of “Organisation and tasks of the General Prosecutor’s Offices in Germany and international legal cooperation in criminal matters”.
Study trip to Berlin on the subject of “Vocational training and continuing education for prisoners in detention.”
Workshop in Amman on “Prison conditions according to international standards and vocational basic and further training of prisoners in detention” in Amman
Cooperation with the above mentioned project partners – the Constitutional Court, the Judicial Academy, the Cassation Court, the penitentiary authority and the Amman General Prosecutor’s Office – will be continued in the coming year as part of the afore mentioned project on the transformation partnership for North Africa and the Middle East as well as in the area of institutional funding. The training and further education measures for professional practice should not only address the individual legal practitioners but should also increasingly involve the multipliers (“Train-the-Trainer”) working in the respective area.
Roundtable discussion in Amman on the topic of “Protection of fundamental rights by constitutional court jurisdiction”: Prof. Michael Eichberger and Prof. Gabriele Britz (both judges at the German Federal Constitutional Court); Dr. Taher Hikmat, President of the Jordanian Constitutional Court; Prof. Reinhard Gaier (former judge at the German Federal Constitutional Court) (from right to left)
Legal Policy Starting Point
In spite of its relative political and economic stability in the Middle East Region, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan faces enormous challenges. The consequences of war events in the neighbouring countries Syria and Iraq place a particular burden on the country. The interruption of economic relations with Jordan’s trading partners in the region (e.g. Iraq and Egypt) and the presence of more than a million refugees from the neighbouring crisis regions, together with the growing risk of terrorism in Jordan itself, impose considerable economic and social pressure on the country. Consequently, security concerns clearly take increasing priority among the Jordan public over the grant of freedom rights. The weighing up of these concerns continues to constitute an extraordinary challenge for the rule of law in Jordan.
The results of the parliamentary election held in September 2016 with low voter turnout, which was conducted according to the new system of proportional representation and was mainly judged to be transparent by international observers, led to hope for the continuation of the reform course in order to further work on strengthening the principles of the rule of law. In this context, the rule of law is one of several factors to reduce the causes of flight and migration in the entire region and thus deserves special attention for this reason.
Since the start of project work in Jordan in 2006, the IRZ has supported different institutions in the Jordanian judiciary by training measures and further training for legal practitioners. In addition, it promotes reciprocal specialist exchange by expert discussions at bilateral and multilateral level.
Right from the start of the IRZ’s project work, there has been close and trustful cooperation with the Judicial Institute of Jordan in the course of joint further training events for judges in all types of courts, amongst other things with the aim of strengthening the independence of the judiciary.
The IRZ endeavours to continually expand the group of its project partners in Jordan. Very good cooperation has existed with the Penitentiary Authority, which has been established as part of the Jordanian Police through the Ministry of the Interior since 2011. This cooperation was particularly intensified by an EU Project, of which the IRZ was in charge and which was implemented highly successfully, on the reform of the prison service in Jordan (2012 to 2014). Current cooperation continues to build on the further issues raised in the course of this project, in order to guarantee a sustainable approach as far as possible. This is intended as a contribution to the solution of existing problems in the prison system.
Since 2013, cooperation has existed with the Jordanian Constitutional Court, which was established just one year earlier, within the framework of regular specialist discussions in order to focus more strongly on the mechanisms for the safeguarding of human rights. Cooperation with the High Administrative Court of Jordan, which was established as recently as October 2014 within the reform of the administrative courts, commenced in 2015. The Jordanian Court of Cassation also took up the IRZ’s offer of cooperation in the reporting year and a first joint event took place in Amman. In addition, Jordan is regularly involved in multilateral events. This year, representatives of the Jordanian Parliament once again participated in the annual “International Conference of Parliamentary Committees on Legal Affairs” organised by the IRZ and the German Bundestag.
The IRZ’s work is supported not only by grants from the German Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection, but also by project grants of the German Federal Foreign Office.
Foci of Activity 2016
Constitutional Law / Human Rights and their Enforceability
Roundtable discussion on “Protection of human rights by constitutional court jurisdiction” in Amman (multilateral exchange of experience with participation by members of the German Federal Constitutional Court and constitutional lawyers from Tunisia)
Participation by members of the Jordanian Parliamentary Committee on Legal Affairs at the V. International Conference of Parliamentary Committees on Legal Affairs entitled “Politics, Economy and Human Rights” in Berlin
Administration of Justice
Participants in the expert discussions in Amman with the Jordanian Court of Cassation on the role of academic staff in the preparation of decisions
Expert discussions in Amman with the Jordanian Court of Cassation on the topic of “The role of academic assistants in the preparation of decisions”
Specialist seminar in Amman entitled “The relationship between the independence of the judiciary and administrative supervision”
Specialist seminar in Amman entitled “The independence of the judiciary and judicial discretion”
Specialist seminar in Amman on the topic “Sequence of the administrative court procedure: procedural principles, stages in proceedings, the rights of the parties and treatment of the parties by the courts”
Criminal Law and Penitentiary Law
Workshop in Amman on the topic “Prison overcrowding and application of international prison rules”
Workshop in Amman on the topic “Imprisonment, resocialisation plan and successful reintegration of criminal convicts”
Support for an information visit by the Jordanian correctional authority on the topic “Fundamental security measures and dynamic security concepts in prisons” in Bremen, Oldenburg, Hannover and Bonn (measure within the framework of the TAIEX support programme of the European Commission)
Support for an information visit by the Jordanian correctional authority on the topic “Handling and prevention of security incidents in prisons” in Bremen, Oldenburg and Bonn (measure within the framework of the TAIEX support programme of the European Commission)
Cooperation with the project partners specified above, the Constitutional Court, the Court of Cassation, the correctional authority, the Judicial Academy and the Higher Administrative Court will also be continued in the forthcoming year. In this context, the trainings and further training measures on professional practice are not only addressed to individual legal practitioners, but increasingly also involve the multipliers working in the respective sphere (“train the trainer”).
The IRZ also intends to involve the General Prosecutor’s Office of Amman in the project work and to renew the cooperation with the Jordanian Ministry of Justice, especially with the Department of International Cooperation. Successful cooperation talks were conducted with both institutions in the reporting year.