- Published: June 1, 2018
Legal Policy Situation
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.