Jordan – annual report 2020

IRZ expert Dr Dorothee WeckerlingWilhelm (centre), Head of Division at the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection, with IRZ Head of Section Sidi Mohamed Khairy (left) and IRZ project manager Asma Dhib
IRZ expert Dr Dorothee WeckerlingWilhelm (centre), Head of Division at the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection, with IRZ Head of Section Sidi Mohamed Khairy (left) and IRZ project manager Asma Dhib

Strategic Framework

Legal Policy Starting Point

The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan has a central and stabilising function in the region. It is among the most important cooperation partners in the Middle East for international bodies, mediating in the Middle East conflict and elsewhere. Despite its important and prominent role, the state has not managed to stabilise the economy and is therefore highly dependent on foreign money. In 2016, the International Monetary Fund approved loans of US$700 million to the country, which are tied to sweeping reforms. Tax increases were introduced in 2018 to reduce the national debt and fulfil these conditions. This provoked considerable resentment in broad swathes of the population. A rise in the unemployment rate and food prices in spring 2018 led to the largest protests since 2011. Discontent at the difficult economic situation persisted in wide sections of society, even after the protests had subsided.

A lockdown was imposed from March to May 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, bringing public life in Jordan to a standstill. The economic ramifications of the pandemic are wreaking havoc on the country’s already weakened economy. Accusations of government corruption and the steadily deteriorating living conditions erupted in protests by the disappointed population in September 2020.

King Abdullah II dissolved parliament on 27 September 2020 to form a new government and thus seek to stem popular disenchantment with economic hardship. He then appointed Bisher Al-Khasawneh as the new prime minister in October. Numerous ministerial posts were also filled, although the Minister of Justice, Bassam Al-Talhouni, remained in office. What consequences the appointment of Bisher Al-Khasawneh will have for the country remain to be seen.

Overall Concept

IRZ has supported various institutions of the Jordanian judiciary by providing further education, training and advisory measures since the start of project work in the country in 2006. It was only possible to hold events in an online format during 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic and associated travel restrictions. In keeping with Jordanian national interests and priorities, they focused on advice and support in the area of criminal law as well as policy to combat corruption. The country continues to implement reforms in these areas. An event was also held on consumer protection, which was organised with the participation of a representative from the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection. Additional advisory measures on this issue are planned.

Focus of Activity in 2020

Constitutional Law 

  • Preparation of an anthology of selected landmark decisions of the Federal Constitutional Court for the Jordanian Constitutional Court

Civil and Commercial Law 

  • Online exchange of experiences on “Consumer protection: mechanisms and challenges” in cooperation with the Jordanian Ministry of Industry and Trade and Supply

Criminal and Penitentiary Law

  • Online training for judges on “Combating organised crime” in cooperation with the Judicial Council
  • Online seminar on “Combating corruption – mechanisms and prevention” for representatives from the Jordanian Ministry of Justice and the Anti-Corruption Commission
  • Online exchange of experience on “International mutual legal assistance in criminal matters” with the Jordanian Ministry of Justice and representatives from the Judicial Council

Basic and Further Training 

  • Multi-day online mediation training for judges with the Judicial Institute of Jordan

Outlook

IRZ will further intensify its cooperation with the Jordanian Ministry of Justice in the coming year in order to support Jordan in its national reform efforts, especially in the fields of criminal law, international mutual legal assistance and policy to combat corruption. In addition, the project “Promoting legal certainty: supporting criminal justice reforms in Jordan” (term: 2020 to 2022), which is funded by the Federal Foreign Office, will be implemented in cooperation with the Jordanian Ministry of Justice. Over the next two years, this project aims to promote efficiency and transparency in the criminal justice system by having a working group develop recommendations for Jordanian members of the judiciary under the guidance of German experts.

The Judicial Council and the Judicial Institute of Jordan will also remain important project partners in the year ahead. For instance, further education seminars and training in the field of civil and criminal law will be organised with both partners to support basic and further training of the judiciary. Seminars and conferences on the topics of judiciary and court administration as well as administrative law are planned with the Judicial Council.

IRZ will organise advisory measures for the newly established consumer protection authority, which reports directly to the government, as a means of intensifying cooperation in the field of consumer protection.

Jordan - annual report 2019

Participants of the seminar “Train the trainer: Teaching methodical-didactic knowledge“ in Amman
Participants of the seminar “Train the trainer: Teaching methodical-didactic knowledge“ in Amman

Strategic Framework

Legal Policy Starting Point

The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan has a central function in shaping the security situation in the region. Its geostrategic position and its role in conflict resolution make Jordan an important cooperation partner for many international actors. In the wake of the Arab Spring, the country initiated judicial reforms and made constitutional amendments. Nevertheless, Jordan continues to face challenges on the domestic front. Besides the ramifications of the Syrian war, the current economic crisis is weakening the country. This is why the voices calling for stabilisation of the economic and social situation are becoming louder throughout society, putting pressure on Jordanian rule of law and related political reforms.

According to the Jordanian Ministry of Justice, the economic problems and the occasionally fraught situation in the country‘s refugee camps have led to an increase in criminal proceedings, which exceeds the capacity of the Jordanian judicial institutions. The Jordanian government is aware of the urgency of judicial reform to preserve the rule of law in this difficult starting situation. Reform of the judicial sector is therefore assigned priority status. For instance, the standing of the Constitutional Court in Jordan improved over the past year. Despite initial wrangling over competencies with the established Court of Cassation, it was able to establish its constitutional position and underpin its status with landmark decisions. In this context, the Constitutional Court ruled on 1 August 2019 that it is unconstitutional for a minister to be active in the private sector during his or her term in office. Immediately after the ruling, Prime Minister Al-Razzaz convened a ministerial committee to examine the consequences of the decision for the cabinet, which led to a cabinet reshuffle in November 2019. This decision is symbolic for the country on its way to embracing the rule of law and its practical implementation of the separation of powers.

Overall Concept

Since the start of project work in Jordan in 2006, 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 its particular position within the judicial system and its significance for the rule of law.

With a project financed by the Federal Foreign Office, IRZ supported the Constitutional Court from 2017 to 2019 in establishing itself and improving cooperation with the lower judicial authorities. The success of this project can also be seen in the first landmark decisions of the Constitutional Court.

The Court of Cassation also has need for counselling. A lack of uniform case-law still persists, which at times leads to an absence of legal certainty.

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. IRZ is also building on its cooperation with Judicial Institute of Jordan to support basic and further training of the judiciary.

Focus of Activity in 2019

Constitutional Law/Human Rights and their Enforceability

  • Regional conference in Amman on “Constitutional court jurisdiction: Powers and instruments to protect basic rights“

Civil and Commercial Law

  • Regional conference in Amman on “Courts of Cassation and their contribution to the harmonisation of case law, with particula reference to the implementation of international guidelines“

Criminal Law and Penitentiary Law

  • Exchange of experience in Amman on the fight against organised crime
  • Symposium in Berlin on the practicalities of international legal cooperation in criminal matters, including participants from the Ministries of Justice and Public Prosecutors‘ Offices in Algeria, Jordan, Morocco, Senegal and Tunisia

Basic and Further Training

  • Seminars in Amman on “Train the trainer: Teaching methodicaldidactic knowledge“

Outlook

IRZ is continuing its successful cooperation with the project partners, the Ministry of Justice, the Constitutional Court, the Court of Cassation and the Judicial Institute. An application for a follow-up project funded under the Transformation Partnership run by the Federal Foreign Office has already been submitted. Within this framework, IRZ intends to intensify its advice to the penitentiary authority, the General Prosecutor‘s Office and the Ministry of Justice. There are plans to extend cooperation with Jordan in 2020 to include women‘s rights as well.

Jordan - annual report 2018

Study trip by a delegation of judges from the Jordanian Constitutional Court and Court of Cassation to Karlsruhe: Judge at the Federal Constitutional Court Prof. Gabriele Britz (3rd from the left), Judge at the Federal Constitutional Court (retired) Prof. Michael Eichberger (centre), Mansour Hadidi, Vice President of the Jordanian Constitutional Court (to the right)
Study trip by a delegation of judges from the Jordanian Constitutional Court and Court of Cassation to Karlsruhe: Judge at the Federal Constitutional Court Prof. Gabriele Britz (3rd from the left), Judge at the Federal Constitutional Court (retired) Prof. Michael Eichberger (centre), Mansour Hadidi, Vice President of the Jordanian Constitutional Court (to the right)

Strategic Framework

Legal Policy Starting Point

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.

Overall Concept

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

Outlook

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.