Jordan Democracy and Rights

Democracy and rights

Some organs are elected, but royal appointments and strong clans determine who gets real power in Jordan which is abbreviated as JOR. At the same time, the state leadership listens to public statements with a worried ear. Dissatisfaction with the tax policy has on several occasions forced refurbishment in the government. According to the constitution, freedom of the press prevails, but the media is under strong state control.

The king appoints and dismisses the government. The senate (parliament’s upper house) and provincial governors are appointed by the king as well as the mayor of the capital Amman. On the other hand, the members of the lower house and the mayor of smaller towns are elected by the people. It has become easier to form political parties, but the electoral system is designed to disadvantage regime critics. Many who hold political positions are either clan leaders or businessmen, who are royalty-free but stand as independent candidates.

The 2015 electoral law guarantees mandates for women, Christians, cherries and Chechens in parliament’s lower house. At the local level, one fifth of elected members must be women.

The population consists largely of Palestinian refugees. Jordan is the country that has granted them the most far-reaching rights, even though they are still under-represented in governing bodies. Many refugees from the war in Syria have applied to Jordan. Human rights organizations estimate that there are one million migrants who work black, and they have particularly precarious conditions in agriculture and housework.

The state monitors sermons and only those who receive state approval are allowed to be preachers. Both unions and other organizations must have a state license.

A commission commissioned to investigate corruption has achieved few legal cases. No transparency is given to executives’ financial circumstances and Parliament has a weak role in the state’s budget process. Nevertheless, Transparency International, which calls for corruption in the countries of the world, judges Jordan as one of the least corrupt countries in the Arab world. In 2019, Jordan was placed 60 out of 180, the same place as Greece, see list here.

Freedom of expression and media

In principle, demonstrations are expected to be sought for demonstrations, but protests occur. Sometimes they succeed, as in 2018 when the government was forced to step down. But from Human Rights Watch (HRW), in 2019, criticism came for a reduction in tolerance to dissent. The reason was that a dozen activists were arrested in the spring.

The constitutional freedom of the media is limited by arbitrary laws. Fear of imprisonment or fines means that few journalists dare to publish anything negative about the royal house, religion or government institutions and the governing bodies. Self-censorship is reinforced by state ownership interests in the media. However, political upheavals in the region have resulted in previously unthinkable criticism of the government and the royal family, especially in social media and in network publications.

In Reporters Without Borders Review of Press Freedom, Jordan 2020 ranked 128th among 180 countries, see list here.

It was not until 2004 that the first newspaper independent of the regime, Arabic-speaking al-Ghad (Morning Day, liberal), was published. The Jordan Times daily newspaper is in English. Weekly magazines like al-Hadath and Shihan (in Arabic) and The Star (in English) are generally more outspoken than daily press.

The state broadcasting company broadcasts in Arabic and English. Private radio channels mainly broadcast music.

A prolific blogger and twitter is Queen Rania. The Internet was not subject to restrictions for a long time, but a law change in 2012 gave authorities the right to close and censor internet sites and make its owners responsible for published posts. Government news was required for news sites. The Qatar-based news channel al-Jazira, which is followed by international Arabic-speaking audiences, has been instrumental in getting its license revoked.

In April 2014, Parliament approved additions to the country’s anti-terror law from 2006. The additions criminalize support for terror groups on the internet, in newspapers and other media.

Judicial system and legal security

The king appoints all judges. This applies to the Constitutional Court as well as other civil courts and religious courts that handle family law cases for Muslims. Both civilians and military can be brought before the state security court, which also convicts in drug cases. The judges can be appealed, but Jordan has political prisoners and is accused by human rights organizations of inadequate trials, torture and lousy treatment of interns. A lifetime sentence usually equals 20 years.

Death sentences can be sentenced. When eleven men, convicted of murder, were hanged just before Christmas 2014, no executions had been carried out since 2006. Government officials cited increasing crime as a reason for executions being re-executed. People who support the death penalty argue that it reduces the risk of blood feuds where relatives of murder victims take the law into their own hands. In 2017, 15 people were executed, of whom ten were convicted of terrorist offenses and the others for rape and other sexual offenses. All were hung on the same day. Executions must be approved by the king, who has previously expressed a desire to eventually abolish the death penalty. The Jordan Times reported in 2017 that there were 120 people sentenced to death in Jordanian prisons, including twelve women.

In 2017, a harshly criticized law was repealed which allowed a rapist to avoid punishment if he married the victim. (Such laws have been abolished in several Muslim countries in recent years.) The same year, legislative changes were adopted to shorten the length of detention, but the police can keep a person arrested for up to six months without submitting criminal charges.

Sex between parties of the same sex is not expressly prohibited by law. The formal barriers to changing religion are also less than in many other countries. However, being socially accepted in society, and avoiding harassment, is difficult for those who choose a lifestyle that violates the norm.

Jordan Crime Rate & Statistics



A new head of government is appointed by the king

A former official at the court, Samir al-Rifai, is appointed by the king as new head of government. Rifai is given plenty of room to form a government to ensure that the country can better cope with the consequences of the global financial crisis.


Parliament dissolved

King Abdullah dissolves Parliament when two years of the four-year term have passed.