Head of government Samir Rifai (replaced Nader al-Dahabi in December)
Death penalty retentionist
Population 6.3 million
Life expectancy 72.4 years
Under-5 mortality (m/f) 24/19 per 1,000
Adult literacy 91.1 per cent
Torture and other ill-treatment were reported and at least two men were alleged to have died as a result of police beatings. Thousands of people were held without charge or prospect of trial. Trials before the State Security Court (SSC) continued to breach international standards of fair trial. A new Societies Law opened the way for greater state interference in the work of civil society organizations. Women faced legal and other discrimination and remained inadequately protected against domestic violence; at least 24 were reported to have been victims of so-called honour killings. New regulations improved conditions for migrant domestic workers but still left them vulnerable to exploitation and abuse. At least 12 people were sentenced to death; there were no executions.
In November, the King dissolved the Lower House of Parliament which had been elected in November 2007. New elections were to take place towards the end of 2010. A new cabinet was sworn in during December.
Detention without trial, torture and other ill-treatment
There were new reports of torture and other illtreatment despite amendments to the Criminal Procedures Law that halved the maximum permissible period of detention without charge to one month in misdemeanour cases and three months in criminal cases. The amendments also require that applications to hold detainees for such periods must be judicially sanctioned.
In April, the National Centre for Human Rights (NCHR), an official body, disclosed in its report for 2008 that when carrying out unannounced inspection visits to prisons it had received complaints from inmates that they had been beaten and otherwise ill-treated by guards. The report noted that some perpetrators could escape accountability because physical evidence of abuse tended to be temporary and often there were no independent witnesses.
Thousands of people were reported to be held under the 1954 Law on Crime Prevention, which gives provincial governors power to detain people suspected of committing crimes or deemed to be "a danger to society" and to hold them indefinitely without charge or trial. In its report for 2008 the NCHR cited more than 13,000 cases of such detentions. Although outside the law's remit, governors continued to use it to detain women considered to be at risk of family violence for their "own protection".
- Sadem Abdul Mutelib al-Saoud died in hospital on 8 November apparently as a result of injuries sustained when he was arrested and beaten by police while held at Amman's al-Hussein Security Centre in October. He fell into a coma and died three weeks later. At least four police officers were referred to a police court on 11 November in connection with the killing.
Counter-terror and security
Tens of people accused of terrorism-related or state security offences were tried before the SSC, whose procedures breach international standards for fair trial. In particular, the court continued to accept as evidence for conviction "confessions" that defendants alleged had been obtained under torture in pre-trial detention, apparently without taking adequate steps to investigate the allegations.