Jordan


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Freedom of peaceful assembly continued to be curtailed, including under sweeping emergency legislation introduced in 2020. The authorities also restricted freedom of expression, both online and offline. Gender-based violence increased in the context of worsening economic conditions and Covid-19 restrictions, as well as due to the continuing lack of legal protection against such crimes. Jordan continued to host over 2.7 million refugees, all of whom were eligible for free Covid-19 vaccinations, but food insecurity among refugees rose sharply.

 

Background

Jordan began its Covid-19 vaccine roll-out in January 2021 and, according to UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, was one of the first countries to offer free vaccinations to all, including refugees and asylum seekers.

In April, former crown prince Hamzah bin al-Hussein was placed under house arrest, accused of planning a coup, which he denied.

In June, King Abdallah ordered the formation of a 92-member royal committee to “modernize the legislative system”.

Jordan’s economic situation continued to deteriorate, partly due to the impact of Covid-19 measures. In September, the government reopened the country, but maintained the sweeping emergency law enacted at the start of the pandemic in 2020.

 

FREEDOM OF ASSEMBLY

The authorities continued to curtail freedom of peaceful assembly, including by arbitrarily arresting people protesting against the government’s Covid-19 measures.

In March, protests erupted in the cities of Irbid, Salt, Aqaba and Karak after at least 10 Covid-19 patients died because of a shortage of oxygen in a government hospital in Salt. Protesters demanded accountability for the deaths and a halt to Covid-19 restrictions such as night curfews that they criticized as ineffective. In December, five individuals were sentenced to three years in prison after being found responsible for the patients’ deaths. The protesters also blamed the government for worsening economic conditions and called for an end to the emergency law, known as the defence law, which was used to limit civil and political rights. Security forces met demonstrators with force, including heavy use of tear gas.

To mark the 10th anniversary of the 24 March Movement, a 2011 youth-led movement calling for reform, protests were set to happen in Amman and the northern cities of Irbid, Mafraq and Ramtha to call for the end of the defence law and the cabinet’s resignation. However, security forces prevented individuals from joining the protests and arrested dozens of others. The interior minister stated that the government “would not tolerate protests that would worsen the health crisis.” All those arrested were released shortly afterwards.

May witnessed several days of protests in solidarity with Palestinians in East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood. On 14 May, Jordanian riot police used tear gas and fired live ammunition in the air to disperse protesters near the King Hussein Bridge in the Jordan Valley.

On 30 June, authorities arrested members of the teachers’ trade union, including its head Nasser al-Nawasrah, hours before a planned march in solidarity with teachers forced into early retirement. Authorities had also arrested teachers protesting about the same issue in early January. All those detained were released soon after arrest.

Jordan Newsroom



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