Part 1: Political and Human Rights Conditions
Jordan is a constitutional monarchy. The constitution places executive authority in the king and legislative authority with the parliament and government. Prime Minister Nader Al-Dahabi, appointed by the king from outside the ranks of parliament and confirmed by parliament, is the head of government. The government respected human rights in some areas, although the government's overall record continued to reflect the need for further improvements. Political reform lagged, and a law restricting NGO activities went into effect in December 2008. Official limitations on the rights of women and societal discrimination against both women and Palestinians continued, as did varying degrees of restrictions on freedoms of speech, press, assembly, association, and religion. Citizens participated in the political process through their elected representatives in parliament and in most municipal governments. However, those of Amman, Aqaba, and Wadi Musa are partially appointed.
Part 2: U.S. Government Democracy Objectives
The U.S. Government's priorities relating to human rights and democracy promotion in the country are to improve institutional capacity, encourage NGOs and the press to participate more fully in critical inquiry and government oversight, improve religious freedom, strengthen civil society, raise labor standards, and support the promotion of women's rights. Ongoing U.S.-funded programs focus on political party development, press freedom, and judicial sector reform. Reducing the prevalence of honor crimes, trafficking in persons, and domestic violence are also U.S. Government priorities in the country. Program objectives are based on consultations with local organizations and take into consideration the government of Jordan's 2006 National Agenda, a 10-year blueprint for reform.
In September 2008 the United States and Jordan signed a five-year, non-binding memorandum of understanding (MOU) on assistance level requests for 2010-2014. The MOU also reinforced a bilateral commitment to cooperate on issues including the encouragement of political reform and performance in line with the country's National Agenda.
Part 3: Supporting Top Priorities and Other Aspects of Human Rights and Democratic Governance
U.S. support to political parties and election reform focuses on strengthening national political parties (including assistance in organizational capacity, platform identification, and candidate training), linking local political movements to national political parties, building capacity for electoral administration, and empowering civil society efforts to monitor elections for the parliamentary and municipal elections planned for 2011. Embassy officers interact regularly with both political party officials and government regulators of political parties to ensure a steady flow of information about these reform initiatives. U.S. officials also meet with government officials and leaders of NGOs and religious communities to promote religious freedom and tolerance.
U.S. support for press freedom and independence aims to increase professionalism, objectivity, and reporting skills among emerging and professional journalists and editors; develop community and news media, with special emphasis on citizen journalism such as blogging; and improve the environment for independent media. The United States funds study tours and other exchange programs for journalists to visit the United States to increase their understanding of the role of a free press in a democratic system.
U.S. support for judicial sector reform included automating the judiciary's case management system and revamping the judicial training process, both of which significantly improved judicial standards. Future support will focus on improving judicial accountability while promoting administrative and financial independence. The U.S. Government also aims to improve the judiciary's handling of human rights cases, especially those involving honor killings, trafficking in persons, forced labor, and domestic violence, through targeted training of judges and prosecutors, relevant judicial education programs and exchanges, and diplomatic engagement.
As a number of changes to the country's laws and regulations governing NGO operations take effect, the United States has initiated a new assistance program aiming to strengthen civil society. The U.S. Government will help to facilitate the registration process for civil society organizations, create forums for dialogue between the government and NGOs, and provide technical assistance in formulating transparent regulations. The U.S. Government is also assisting civil society organizations to build their management and strategic planning capacity, depending on their level of organizational development, and develop internal governance and accountability mechanisms, which will increase their ability to advocate effectively for change. U.S. assistance programs focus on the role of women in civil society to enhance their voice in the decision-making process and to help them build support for expanded rights for women. Through exchange programs and diplomatic engagement, the U.S. Government is also helping to expand the organizational capacity of religious groups involved in interfaith dialogue and religious tolerance.