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Human Rights Council – Universal Periodic Review

11 February 2009 (morning)
For use of information media; not an official record

· The Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review Working Group reviewed the fulfillment of human rights obligations by Jordan this morning, during which 53 Council members and observers raised a number of issues pertaining to the human rights situation in the country.

· This morning, the Working Group also adopted, ad referendum, the report on China, following the review of the country on Monday, 9 February.

· Presenting the national report of Jordan was MOUSA BURAYZAT, Director of the International Relations and Organizations Department and Director of The Human Rights Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Jordan, who, while noting that the report was prepared in consultation with civil society, said Jordan was in a constant periodic review on the situation of human rights. The Government sought to strengthen human rights for the aim of peace and stability inside and outside the country. The vulnerable sector of society was the prime target of the State’s human rights polices and programmes. In view of the preparation of the national report, comments were also received from the Jordanian Standing Committee on Human Rights. The Jordanian Constitution of 1952 was fully in line with international human rights standards and instruments and upheld that all Jordanians were equal through the law. All citizens were afforded the right to legal counsel. The anti-terrorist act of 2006 sought the prevention of crimes of terrorism and financing of terrorist activities. Nobody had been prosecuted according to this law thus far. The State also preserved the right to freedom of religion and the law prohibited an insult to any religion or belief. Moreover, the right to freedom of movement was guaranteed per Jordanian laws.

The right to life and physical integrity was also upheld and the Penal Code penalized deliberate killings and crimes causing harm to people, the head of delegation stated. Torture was criminalized per the provisions of the Convention against Torture and those held responsible for such acts were prosecuted. It was noted that Jordan had implemented the recommendations of the Special Rapporteur on torture. The Government had engaged in a number of steps to prevent all acts of torture and had taken additional measures to rehabilitate victims of such acts. As to capital punishment, the application of the death penalty was very restricted and no execution had been carried out since April 2007. As to freedom of expression, the Constitution respected the right of everyone to speak out and publish freely and without restrictions. Jordanian law prohibited the detention of journalists for carrying out their duties. The right to association and formation of political parties and assembly were also upheld per the Constitution. There were a large number of political parties registered in Jordan; all these parties had the right to participate in elections. The law allowed everybody to stand for election and there were safeguards to ensure the participation of women in the National Assembly.

· During the three-hour interactive discussion delegations noted a number of positive achievements of the State under review. These included progress made in upholding the rights of women and girls; measures to increase women’s employment opportunities; steps to rehabilitate and assist street children; the progress made in respecting economic, social and cultural rights; efforts to eradicate poverty; the creation of a national council for disabled persons; the high literacy rate in Jordan and efforts to reach universal primary education and overall progress made in the right to education; the high level of health care services; the accession to several international human rights treaties; efforts to reinforce the importance of freedom of expression; the creation of a National Coalition for Children; accommodating a large number of Palestinian and Iraqi refugees; and the active support of civil society in Jordan on human rights issues.

· Issues and questions raised by the Working Group, comprised of the 47 members of the Council, and Observers participating in the interactive discussion related to, among other things, the intention to criminalize domestic violence, as recommended by Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women; measures taken to make harsher the crime of honour crimes; plans to organize a visit by the Special Rapporteur on violence against women; the plan to enact a comprehensive gender equality law; progress achieved in implementing the national plan on the rights of children; whether Jordan was considering to review the draft Child Rights Act with a view to introducing a ban on corporal punishment; information on the results achieved in protecting and providing assistance to children and young people who have been victims of sexual exploitation or any form of trafficking; steps to attend to the needs of migrant workers; and efforts exerted to ensure that the needs of the 700,000 Iraqi refugees in Jordan were met and the nature of the assistance and services they required.

Other issues and questions pertained to plans to accede to additional international human rights instruments; the new law on freedom of assembly; the application of the rule of the law for detainees; steps taken to ensure the various human rights conventions were fully implemented and to increase awareness about them among the judiciary, law enforcement agencies and the general pubic; steps being taken to address concerns that safeguards to combat torture were compromised because the Jordanian security services were effectively shielded from independent prosecution and accountability; step to implement the recommendations of the Committee against Torture; efforts undertaken to ease case overload and delays in the judicial system; efforts aimed at raising the minimum age of criminal responsibility; and plans to convert the de facto moratorium on the death penalty to a de jure moratorium.

· A number of delegations also posed specific recommendations. These included: to continue cooperation with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights; to consider extending a standing invitation to United Nations Special Procedures; to continue its efforts to institute human rights education in the school system; to stay the course of attaining the Millennium Development Goals; to share with developing counties its experience in the health sector; to continue efforts to achieve universal primary education; to continue efforts to reinforce school enrolment rates; to continue efforts at eradicating poverty and strengthen the Poverty Alleviation Strategy; to continue to enhance access to water through efficient water resource management with the support and assistance of the international community; to continue to improve the living conditions of the disabled population; to further implement the National Strategy for persons with disabilities; to take further steps to address discrimination against women, minorities and vulnerable groups, including children and disabled people; and to continue to improve the well-being and human rights protection of migrant workers, including domestic workers.

Other recommendations included: To continue to strengthen the implementation of the National Action Plan for Children; to lift reservations to the Convention on the Rights of the Child; to prohibit all acts of corporal punishment; to continue to pursue gender equality; to withdraw reservations to the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women; to follow up on the recommendations made by Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women; to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women; to continue efforts to promote the role of women in high decision-making posts; to continue efforts to empower women and increase their role in public life; and to review the Nationality Law to ensure that a Jordanian mother married to a non-Jordanian man had the right to confer her nationality to their children.

Additionally, Jordan was encouraged to step up its efforts to combat honour crimes; to strengthen legislation protecting women from violence and amend the Penal Code to ensure that honour crimes were treated on par with other serious violent crimes and to ensure all such crimes were investigated and prosecuted; to abolish all protection and impunity for perpetrators of honour killings; that the penal legislation concerning the discrimination and violence against women be developed in a holistic manner; to take further action in order to receive the Special Rapporteur on violence against women; to enact legislation on violence against women; and to increase the number of "home shelters" in Jordan and replace the practice of "protected custody" for women at risk of violence.

Other recommendations to continue to provide and improve human rights education and training for the judicial and law enforcement officials; to review the use of administrative detention and ensure that current detainees had access to legal representation and to the courts; to consider transferring criminal jurisdiction of the State Security Court and the Police Court to ordinary courts; to continue efforts to combat torture; to review the legislation on terrorism to ensure it was in line with international human rights standards; to consider accepting the jurisdiction of the Committee against Torture; to ratify the Optional Protocol of the Convention against Torture; to take further action to prevent impunity of torture and ill treatment and follow up to the recommendations of the Special Rapporteur on torture; to enact a definition of torture and its absolute prohibition in accordance with the Convention against Torture; to continue to facilitate prison visits, including ones announced by NGOs; to give full jurisdiction to civil investigators over the investigation of allegations of abuse of prisoners; to implement an independent and transparent complaints mechanism to deal with reports of prisoner ill-treatment; and to ratify the Convention in Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances.

Jordan was also encouraged to take further steps to promote an open and free press where journalists may report on a full spectrum of political, social and economic issues without fear retribution; to establish an independent electoral commission, allowing for open participation of political parties and objective certification of election results; to revise the Societies Law to remove the government approval requirement in the work of NGOs and take steps to ensure that these changes were put into practice; and to consider amending recent NGO legislation in order to reduce restrictions on their activities and allow them adequate freedom of action.

Another set of recommendations called on Jordan to pursue the protection of those who converted to another religion according to international human rights standards; to continue efforts aimed at protecting the rights of foreign workers and prohibiting abuses against them; to establish a legal framework for the protection of refugees and applicants for asylum; to make greater efforts to meet the needs of Iraqi refugees and to ensure their needs were met; to continue to support Palestinians; to ratify the 1951 Convention on the Status of Refugees; and for the international community to share the burden of the Jordanian Government of hosting millions of Palestinians through financial and other relevant support.

· Members States taking the floor during the interactive discussion were Egypt, Bahrain, Qatar, Djibouti, Azerbaijan, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Indonesia, Malaysia, the United Kingdom, Germany, Pakistan, France, Canada, the Philippines, Nicaragua, Chile, the Netherlands, Brazil, Nigeria, China, Japan, Italy, the Russian Federation, Cuba, Bangladesh, Argentina, Slovenia, the Republic of Korea and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

· Observer States participating in the discussion were Algeria, Finland, Sudan, Kuwait, Yemen, Oman, Palestine, Morocco, Tunisia, Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates, Norway, Sweden, Bhutan, Turkey, Lithuania, Romania, Libya, Ireland, Syria, the Czech Republic, Albania and Afghanistan.

· The 18-person delegation of Jordan consisted of representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of The Interior, the Ministry of Justice, the General Intelligence Department, the Public Security Department, the Ministry of Social Development, the Freedom of Change Academy for Democratic and Development Studies, the Arab Bridge Center for Development and Human Rights and the Permanent Mission of Jordan to the United Nations Office at Geneva.

· The three Council members serving as rapporteurs – troika - for the review of Jordan are Burkina Faso, Mexico and Japan.

· In accordance with its institution-building package, the three documents on which State reviews should be based are information prepared by the State concerned, which could be presented either orally or in writing; information contained in the reports of treaty bodies and Special Procedures, to be compiled in a report by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR); and information provided by other relevant stakeholders to the UPR including non-governmental organizations, national human rights institutions, human rights defenders, academic institutions and research institutes, regional organizations, as well as civil society representatives, also to be summarized by OHCHR in a separate document. The reports on Jordan can be found here.

· Adoption of report on China: The three Council members serving as the troika for the report on China are India, Canada and Nigeria. Introducing the report ACHAMKULANGARE GOPINATHAN (India) said the discussion between the troika members and the delegation of China were held in a very constructive manner and the report accurately reflected the interactive discussion held on 9 February. The rapporteur then read out a few slight oral amendments. Representing the State under review was LI ABAODONG, Permanent Representative China to the United Nations Office at Geneva, who said over the past two days the troika prepared the report in the sprit of independence, fairness and transparency. China had accepted recommendations suitable for the national conditions of China, while other recommendations have not enjoyed the support of China. The report was objective and balanced and gave a full account of the discussion and laid a good foundation for its adoption. It was noted that this year marked the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Peoples Republic of China. China was proud of what it has achieved and was area of its shortcomings. In continued to strive to uphold the rule of law and safeguarding human rights of all its citizens.

· The UPR Working Group is scheduled to adopt the report of Jordan on Friday, 13 February.

 

· When the UPR Working Group continues its work this afternoon at 2:30 p.m. it will review the fulfillment of human rights obligations by Malaysia after which it is scheduled to adopt the report of Nigeria.

Additional information on the Universal Periodic Review mechanism can be located at the UPR webpage - http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Pages/UPRMain.aspx.

To access the webcast for the UPR session please visit http://www.un.org/webcast/unhrc/index.asp

Additional information on the Universal Periodic Review mechanism can be located at the UPR webpage - http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Pages/UPRMain.aspx. To access the webcast for the UPR session please visit http://www.un.org/webcast/unhrc/index.asp.

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