Section 2. Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:
The constitution provides for freedom of speech and press, but the government did not respect these rights. Authorities applied articles of the Counterterrorism Law, the Cybercrimes Law, and the penal code to arrest local journalists.
Freedom of Speech and Expression: The law permits punishment of up to three years’ imprisonment for insulting the king, slandering the government or foreign leaders, offending religious beliefs, or stirring sectarian strife and sedition. During the year the government restricted the ability of individuals to criticize the government by arresting a number of activists for political expression and for criticizing foreign governments. Authorities used laws against slander of public officials, blackmail, and libel to restrict public discussion, as well as employing official gag orders issued by the Media Commission.
On August 13, authorities arrested writer Nahed Hattar for posting an editorial cartoon on his Facebook page that included a personification of God. The prosecutor charged him with inciting sectarian strife and racism and insulting religion under the penal code. On September 8, authorities released him on bail. On September 25, a lone gunman shot and killed Hattar as he was entering the courthouse. Authorities detained the shooter. Hattar’s family stated that Hattar and his lawyer had requested additional protection, which the government did not provide. The same day authorities reportedly identified 10 social media users that they intended to refer to the prosecutor general for spreading hate speech related to the cartoon and the shooting.
On September 22, authorities detained social media personality Zain Karazon on charges of slander and libel. Karazon has a following of more than one million on social media platform Snapchat. Reasons for her arrest were unclear at year’s end. Some media sources speculated that a doctor or hospital sued her for criticizing a botched surgery, while other media sources suspected that someone had filed a suit related to a controversy involving a gay Lebanese online personality. On September 29, authorities released Karazon on bail. Charges were pending at year’s end.
In January the State Security Court found Ali al-Malkawi guilty of insulting the king and sentenced him to six months’ imprisonment. Since authorities had already detained al-Malkawi for six months, authorities sentenced him to time served and released him immediately after sentencing. Authorities had arrested al-Malkawi in July 2015 for a posting on his Facebook page criticizing Arab and Islamic inaction in protecting Burmese Muslims.
All public-opinion polls and survey research require authorization from the Bureau of Statistics, although the law was not enforced. NGOs stated that the measure could be enforced, even retroactively, and called for the government to rescind it.
Press and Media Freedoms: Independent print media existed, including several major daily newspapers, although such publications must obtain licenses from the state to operate. The independent print and broadcast media largely operated with limited restriction, and media observers reported government pressure, including the threat of large fines and prison sentences, to refrain from criticizing the royal family, discussing the Intelligence Directorate, using language deemed offensive to religion, or slandering government officials. The government influenced news reporting and commentary through political pressure on editors and control over important editorial positions in government-affiliated media. Journalists of government-affiliated and independent media reported that security officials attempted to influence reporting and place articles favorable to the government through bribes, threats, and political pressure.
The Audiovisual Law grants the head of the Media Commission the authority to close any unlicensed theater, satellite channel, or radio channel. The Media Commission cannot grant a new broadcasting license to a company unless all shares are Jordanian-owned. Additionally, those with licenses should not broadcast anything that would harm public order, social security, the economy, national security, or Jordan’s relations with a foreign country; incite hatred, terrorism, violent sedition; or mislead or deceive the public. There is a fine for broadcasting without a license. The cabinet, however, must justify the reasons for rejecting a license and allow the applicant to appeal the decision to the judiciary.
Authorities arrested or temporarily detained some journalists, and government officials or private individuals threatened some journalists.
On February 14, authorities arrested al-Ra’i journalist Zaid Murafai for publishing an article on a protest by judges and court employees regarding losses in their pension fund. The court charged Murafai with slander and defamation under the Cybercrimes Law, as well as reporting on a pending case. Authorities released Murafai on bail four days later; charges remained pending at year’s end.
The government has a majority of seats on the board for the leading semiofficial daily newspaper, al-Rai, and a share of board seats for ad-Dustour daily newspaper. According to press freedom advocates, the Intelligence Directorate’s Media Department must approve editors in chief of progovernment newspapers.
Media observers noted that, when covering controversial subjects, government-owned Jordan Television, Jordan News Agency, and Radio Jordan reported only the government’s position.
By law any book can be published and distributed freely. If, however, the Press and Publications Directorate deems passages religiously offensive or “insulting” to the king, it can request a court order to prohibit the distribution of the book.
Violence and Harassment: The government subjected journalists to harassment and intimidation.
In its 2015 semiannual report Media Freedom in the Arab World, the Center for Defending the Freedom of Journalists documented 15 incidents of serious violations against journalists in the country in 2015: 10 detentions, two cases of physical assault, two cases of humiliating treatment, and one injury.
The center documented 50 violations against 28 journalists covering the September 20 parliamentary elections. Violations included cases of poll workers obstructing journalists’ work, withholding information, and preventing photography. There was once case of deleting photographs from a camera.
On February 22, private television station Ro’ya News wrote that security officials beat and arrested one of their journalists who had been covering a protest in front of parliament.
Censorship or Content Restrictions: The government directly and indirectly censored the media. Journalists claimed that the government used informants in newsrooms and exercised influence over reporting and that Intelligence Directorate officials censored reporting. Editors reportedly received telephone calls from security officials instructing them how to cover events or to refrain from covering certain topics or events, especially criticism of political reform. Bribery of journalists took place and undermined independent reporting. On occasion, government officials provided texts for journalists to publish under their bylines. Journalists reported self-censorship due to the threat of detention and imprisonment for defamation for a variety of offenses and court-ordered compensation of as much as 150,000 Jordanian Dollars (JD) ($210,000). At times, editors in chief censored articles to prevent lawsuits. The government’s use of “soft containment” of journalists, including the withholding of financial support, scholarships for relatives, and special invitations, led to significant control of media content.
During the year the Media Commission issued several gag orders restricting discussion of certain topics in all forms of media, including social media. For example, the government issued gag orders restricting discussion of the court cases against Amjad Qourshah and Nahed Hattar, as well as the shooting of Nahed Hattar.
The annual report of the Center for Defending Freedom of Journalists noted that 93 percent of journalists surveyed in 2015 said they practiced self-censorship.
The government continued to enforce bans on the distribution of selected books for religious, moral, and political reasons. The Media Commission banned 41 books during the year for violating public norms and values (such as by including sexual content), disrespecting religion, or insulting the king.
Libel/Slander Laws: Government prosecutors relied on privately initiated libel, slander, and defamation lawsuits to suppress criticism. Dozens of journalists, as well as members of parliament, faced libel and slander accusations filed by private citizens.
On January 5, authorities charged comedian Omar Zorba with slander and defamation under the Cybercrimes Law for criticizing a song that aired on the official television station promoting the national census. The presenter who hosted the segment filed the suit. Charges remained pending at year’s end.
On May 17, authorities arrested and detained ad-Dustour journalist Anas Sweileh for publishing an article on an abandoned building used by unemployed youth for repeated threats of suicide. The owner of the building filed a complaint. The court charged Sweileh with slander, defamation, and libel. Authorities released Sweileh on bail the same day; charges remained pending at year’s end.
National Security: The government used laws protecting national security to restrict criticism of government policies and officials. The government also issued gag orders restricting discussion on all forms of media after a fatal shooting by a lone gunman at an Intelligence Directorate office in Balqa on June 6 and a suicide bombing against a northeast border installation on June 21.
There were government restrictions on access to the internet. The law requires the licensing and registration of online news websites, holds editors responsible for readers’ comments on their websites, requires that website owners provide the government with the personal data of its users, and mandates that editors in chief be members of the Jordan Press Association. The law gives authorities explicit power to block and censor websites. Authorities blocked a news website for one week in August for a licensing issue. The website published a statement saying that the block was under a false legal pretext, and that some governmental and regulatory bodies were critical of the website’s having published articles attacking the mufti and the media commission.
The registration fee for a news website is 1,400 JD ($1,960). The owner and editor in chief can be fined between 3,000 JD ($4,200) and 5,000 JD ($7,000), in addition to criminal penalties, for website content that “includes humiliation, defamation, or disparaging individuals in a manner that violates their personal freedoms or spreads false rumors about them.”
According to journalists, security forces reportedly demanded websites remove some posted articles. The government threatened websites and journalists that criticized the government, while it actively supported those that reported favorably on the government. The government monitored electronic correspondence and internet chat sites. Individuals believed they were unable to express their views fully or freely via the internet, including by personal e-mail.
According to UNESCO’s Media Development Indicators published in September 2015, internet penetration was 76 percent during the year, up from 38 percent in 2010.
ACADEMIC FREEDOM AND CULTURAL EVENTS
The government placed some limits on academic freedom. Some members of the academic community claimed there was a continuing intelligence presence in academic institutions, including monitoring academic conferences and lectures. The government monitored political meetings, speech on university campuses, and sermons in mosques and churches. Academics reported the Intelligence Directorate must clear all university professors before their appointment and that the university administration must approve all research papers, forums, reading materials, movies, or seminars, which in turn clears potentially controversial material through the Intelligence Directorate. Authorities edit commercial foreign films for sexual content before screening in commercial theaters.
On April 26, the government withdrew authorization for a planned concert by Mashrou’ Leila, a Lebanese alternative rock band. The Ministry of Tourism stated that the performance would have been at odds with the “authenticity” of the venue, a historic amphitheater. The band wrote that authorities unofficially told them that their political and religious beliefs were at odds with the country’s customs and traditions.
FREEDOM OF ASSEMBLY
The constitution provides for freedom of assembly, but the government limited this right. Security forces generally permitted demonstrations and provided security at announced demonstrations.
On February 21, security forces disrupted a demonstration in front of parliament organized by several political parties against the draft elections law. Two female members of parliament participating in the protest accused security forces of using excessive force. Authorities arrested and later released three protesters who refused to disperse and one journalist covering the event. Security officials stated that the protesters did not have approval for the demonstration.
On June 22, authorities used force to disperse an eight-week-long protest in the central town of Dhiban. Eighteen unemployed youths demanded government assistance in finding employment. Gendarmerie used tear gas to disperse the protesters and removed a tent the protesters had erected. In response, several protesters threw rocks, burned tires, fired in the air, and chanted slogans against the government. Authorities arrested more than 30 individuals for throwing stones at security forces but released the majority at dawn the next day. The government detained three individuals for attempted murder, resisting arrest, firing live ammunition in the air, and insulting the king. Authorities released two on bail on July 17 and the third on July 29. Charges were pending at year’s end.
Several local and international NGOs reported that hotels required them to present letters of approval from the governor prior to holding training, private meetings, or public conferences. The government denied authorization for several events. Without letters of approval from the government and security services, hotels cancelled the events and trainings. In some cases NGOs relocated the events and training to private offices. Authorities denied permission to the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood association (which is not legally registered as an association or NGO by the government) and the Islamic Action Front (legally registered as a political party) to hold meetings and events on several occasions throughout the country.
FREEDOM OF ASSOCIATION
The constitution provides for the right of association, but the government limited this freedom. The law authorizes the Ministry of Social Development to reject applications to register an organization or to permit any organization to receive foreign funding for any reason. It prohibits the use of associations for the benefit of any political organization. The law also gives the ministry significant control over the internal management of associations, including the ability to dissolve associations, appoint new boards of directors, send government representatives to any board meeting, prevent associations from merging their operations, and appoint an auditor to examine an association’s finances for any reason. The law requires associations to inform the ministry of board meetings, submit all board decisions for approval, disclose members’ names, and obtain security clearances for board members from the Interior Ministry. The law includes penalties, including fines up to 10,000 JD ($14,000), for violations of the regulations. During 2015 the Ministry of Social Development introduced an application form for the approval process for associations that receive foreign funding. Associations criticized the procedure, which incorporated additional ministries into the decision process and removed the deadline for review of funding requests.
During the year NGOs reported that the government sometimes rejected requests for foreign funding, whereas such rejections were previously extremely rare. As of August 25, the ministry had received 250 applications for foreign funding. The government approved 170 applications, denied 10, and requested additional documentation for five applications. Sixty-five applications remained “under consideration.” NGO contacts reported that unexplained, months-long delays in the decision process increased significantly.
As of April the ministry registered 40 NGOs, dissolved 65, and warned 50. Authorities dissolved NGOs for violating the Associations Law.
Citizens widely suspected that the government infiltrated civil society organizations, political parties, and human rights organizations and their internal meetings.
See the Department of State’s International Religious Freedom Report at www.state.gov/religiousfreedomreport/.
d. Freedom of Movement, Internally Displaced Persons, Protection of Refugees, and Stateless Persons
The law provides for freedom of internal movement, foreign travel, emigration, and repatriation, although there were some restrictions. The United Nations reported that the government generally cooperated with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), and humanitarian organizations in providing protection and assistance to internally displaced persons, refugees, returning refugees, asylum seekers, stateless persons, and other persons of concern.
In-country Movement: The government placed some restrictions on the free internal movement of registered Syrian refugees and Syrian asylum seekers. From March 9 to June 21, the government admitted 21,300 vulnerable Syrian asylum seekers from the northeastern border where tens of thousands of Syrians had begun to gather along the Jordanian border. There were no reliable estimates as to what percentage of the population at the border were asylum seekers: UNHCR and the government agreed that the population included genuine asylum seekers, those wanting to remain in Syria but seeking safety from aerial bombardment, traffickers, smugglers, and armed actors. The government accommodated the admitted asylum seekers in a fenced-off section of Azraq camp pending additional security screening, as many had fled from Da’esh-controlled areas. Prior to June 21, authorities cleared approximately 5,000 persons and transferred them from the fenced-off section. Since June 21, after a suicide attack at a border crossing killed seven members of the Jordanian border guard force, approximately 16,000 refugees remained in the secured section of the camp, where they have restricted or limited access to health, education, psychosocial, and other services available in the rest of the camp. Authorities have cleared approximately 1,000 persons and transferred them since June 21. Authorities removed 201 from the camp and returned them to Syria. Similarly, since June 21, authorities have detained at Ruweishid transit center 380 Syrian asylum seekers who were in the process of transfer to Azraq camp when the suicide attack occurred and who continued to receive basic humanitarian assistance.
Authorities continued to subject Palestinian refugees from Syria held at Cyber City, a refugee camp in a closed government facility in Ramtha, to strict controls on their ability to leave the facility. Authorities allowed Palestinian residents of Cyber City to visit their relatives once per month, for two to three days at a time. Authorities made some exceptions for the sick and elderly to allow twice-monthly visits. Unlike Syrian refugees at Cyber City, Palestinian refugees were not entitled to the bailout system of a Jordanian guarantor. Authorities did not officially inform Palestinian refugees of the reasons for their restricted movement. On October 17, the government closed Cyber City and moved remaining residents to King Abdullah Park. Restrictions on movement of Palestinian refugees from Syria remained in place at King Abdullah Park.
Foreign Travel: Former prisoners and the 2015 NCHR report alleged authorities withheld passports and imposed travel bans against citizens.
PROTECTION OF REFUGEES
Access to Asylum: As of November 9, the government, in cooperation with UNHCR, reported more than 655,000 registered Syrian refugees, and hundreds of thousands of additional nonrefugee Syrians in the country. Additionally, UNHCR registered more than 70,000 other refugees or asylum seekers in the country.
The country’s laws do not provide for the granting of asylum or refugee status, and the government lacked a formal system of protecting refugees. Although it is not a signatory to the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees or its 1967 Protocol, the government respected UNHCR’s eligibility determinations regarding asylum seekers, including those who entered the country illegally. A 1998 memorandum of understanding between the government and UNHCR, renewed in 2014, contains the definition of a refugee, confirms adherence to the principle of nonrefoulement, and allows recognized refugees a maximum stay of one year, during which period UNHCR must find a durable solution. The time limit is renewable, and, generally, the government did not force refugees to return to their country of origin. As of 2014 authorities required all Syrians in the country to obtain an official residency card from the Ministry of Interior. Among the requirements to obtain the new residency card, all Syrians over the age of 12 must obtain an individual health certificate, which costs five JD (seven dollars).
The government continued to limit the number of Syrians seeking asylum in the country, as well as the points of entry they may use. Generally, the government restricted entry of Syrians by air despite formal visa-free travel between the countries. Authorities did not allow Syrian asylum seekers, except severe medical cases, to enter along the more populated northwest border of the country. Instead, authorities allowed Syrian refugees seeking entry to cross only at one of the two informal borders crossings along the northeast desert border. The government limited the numbers of new arrivals on a daily basis between January and March. In March the government expedited the entry of 21,300 additional refugees at this informal border point between March and June but limited other refugees from crossing at these informal points. Since June 21, after a suicide attack at a border crossing killed seven Jordanian border guards, the government closed the border and declared the surrounding area a “closed military zone.” The government has restricted humanitarian access to the area. Based on Jordanian estimates, international organizations reported that between 70,000 and 100,000 Syrians camped at the northeast desert Jordan-Syria border throughout the year. Several international organizations, including UNHCR, publicly called on the government to grant entry to the asylum seekers, especially the sick, elderly, children, and pregnant women, many of whom had waited in the border area for months in substandard shelters, with limited food and water, and most without medical care. From August 2 to 4, the government allowed international organizations to deliver a one-month food ration across the border and to continue to deliver water daily. Other refugees, including many Iraqis and Yemenis, faced questioning at formal entry points, and authorities refused entry to many of them. The government’s 2013 announcement that it would not allow entry into Jordan of Palestinian refugees from Syria remained in effect throughout the year.
Refoulement: The government forcibly returned Syrian refugees and Palestinian refugees from Syria, including women, children, war-injured, and persons with disabilities to Syria. International organizations reported that the government carried out a preliminary screening of refugees waiting at the northeastern border and prevented some Syrians seeking refuge from entering the country. International organizations also reported that the government forcibly returned to Syria some refugees residing in Azraq camp and Ruwaished transit center after authorities had admitted them for additional screening via the informal border crossings in the northeast.
The government also returned to Syria some Syrian refugees found working illegally, living in informal tented settlements, or not presenting refugee documentation when moving internally, while forcing others to return to formal refugee camps. Authorities most often sent those subjected to refoulement to Dara’a Province, where many had no support network or way to return across battle lines to their homes, which were often within regime- or Da’esh-controlled areas.
Through September, the UNRWA was aware of 24 cases of refoulement of Palestinian refugees from Syria. The vulnerability of Palestinian refugees from Syria to deportation increased their risk of other abuses. For those who entered the country irregularly (without required documentation, or using Syrian identity documents), refoulement was a constant risk, and access to basic civil services–including renewal of identity documents, the registration of marriages, deaths, and births–was highly complex. The UNRWA reported that such activities could result in forced return to Syria, as well as detention and denaturalization.
Employment: In February the government announced it would allow Syrian refugees access to the formal labor market and committed to providing 50,000 opportunities for Syrians during the year. The Ministry of Labor issued nearly 32,000 work permits to Syrians between February and November. The government took several steps to expand and facilitate work permit issuance, including waiving fees and offering extended amnesties for those working illegally to regularize status. The government also revised work permit practices to allow Syrian workers in the agricultural sector to switch employers under the supervision of agricultural cooperatives, rather than requiring new work permits for each job transfer.
There have been some delays in implementing the new procedures at Ministry of Labor offices in governorates outside Amman, uncertainty among the refugee population on how to apply for the work permits, or whether they would lose eligibility to UNHCR assistance if they entered the legal workplace. Tens of thousands of Syrian refugees continued to work in the informal economy. A government-commissioned study report on migrant workers published in July estimated that 26 percent of Syrian refugees are economically active in the Jordan labor market. Very few non-Syrian refugees had access to the formal labor market and because of the difficulties and expenses involved in seeking work authorization, many worked in the unofficial labor market. Through September 18, the Ministry of Labor reported apprehending nearly 13,000 illegal foreign workers, 3,000 of whom were Syrians. There were reports of administrative detentions and deportations of Syrian refugees for working without authorization, as well as reports of Syrian refugees forcibly moved from their areas of employment into one of the refugee camps for working without authorization.
Longstanding Palestinian refugees with Jordanian identity documents were well integrated into the Jordanian workforce. This was not the case, however, for the approximately 158,000 Palestinian refugees originally from Gaza, who were not eligible for Jordanian citizenship and were unable to work legally or access public services. Additionally, according to UNRWA, authorities deprived Palestinian refugees from Syria, the majority of whom were without Jordanian documents, of the opportunity to work.
Access to Basic Services: The government generally transported Syrian refugees who arrived at informal border crossings and whom authorities admitted to the country to Raba’a Sarhan reception center. Most were registered with the government; received food, water, and medical attention from UNHCR and the ICRC; and were transported by the International Organization for Migration to a refugee camp. Since 2014, authorities have limited entry to Syrians seeking access to asylum along the northeastern border. Although numbers fluctuated, international organizations reported, based on Jordanian estimates, that 70,000 to 100,000 Syrians camped at the northeast desert Jordan-Syria border throughout the year. An undetermined number were inside the country beyond an earthen berm in harsh desert conditions, and tens of thousands resided on the Syrian side of the border. Prior to the border closure on June 21, these Syrians had adequate food and water provided by international organizations but health and hygiene conditions were inadequate as was access to medical aid and shelter. After the border closure on June 21, humanitarian organizations did not have access to the population. Water deliveries continued, but organizations only made one delivery of a 30-day supply of food on August 2 to 4. Authorities did not permit the stranded population to enter Jordan or register as refugees. Authorities permitted some international organizations to visit or assess the situation of these refugees, although not regularly, and very rarely after June 21.
The government excluded Palestinian refugees from Gaza who entered the country following the 1967 war from services otherwise available to Palestinian refugees, such as access to public assistance or public medical services. They were eligible to receive UNRWA services.
As of August 31, 16,661 Palestinian refugees from Syria had recorded their presence in country with the UNRWA.
The government allowed Syrian and other UNHCR-registered refugees to access public health and education facilities. Since 2014, authorities have charged Syrian refugees for health care at the same rates as uninsured Jordanians, who pay a nominal fee for most basic health services. Iraqi and other refugees must pay the foreigner’s rate for health care. The government continued to provide free primary and secondary education to Syrian refugee children, and the minister of education announced that all school-age Syrian refugees should have access to education by the end of the year. Non-Syrian refugees must pay to attend government schools. Public schools, particularly in the north of the country, were overcrowded and operated on a double-shift schedule to accommodate the high number of students. The government doubled the number of double-shift schools to allow an additional 50,000 Syrian refugee students access to formal education on top of the 145,000 enrolled last year. For those not eligible to access formal education, because they have been out of school for three years or more, the Ministry of Education is developing a catch-up program to reach another 25,000 students between the ages of nine and 12. As of November preliminary Ministry of Education enrollment data indicated authorities had enrolled 165,000 Syrian refugees in schools whereas authorities registered approximately 1,200 Syrian schoolchildren for the catch-up classes. Children over the age of 12 who are not eligible to enroll in formal education could participate in a Ministry of Education-run nonformal education dropout program. These three initiatives extend educational opportunities to nearly all school-aged Syrian refugees. Refugees had equal access to justice regardless of their legal status, but did not always exercise this right.
Temporary Protection: The government also provided temporary protection to individuals who may not qualify as refugees. As of November 9, there were 655,716 Syrian refugees, registered by the government and UNHCR. As of November there were 60,067 Iraqi refugees and asylum seekers registered with UNHCR. The government tolerated the prolonged stay of many Iraqis and other refugees beyond the expiration of the visit permits under which they had entered the country. As of November 9, there were 5,096 Yemenis, 3,222 Sudanese, 775 Somalis, and 1,375 other populations registered with UNHCR and resident in Jordan.
Only the father can transmit citizenship. Women do not have the legal right to transmit citizenship to their children. Children of female citizens married to noncitizen husbands receive the nationality of the father and lose the right to attend public school or seek other government services if they do not hold legal residency, for which they must apply every year, and authorities do not assure continued residency. In guidelines announced by the government in 2014, if children of Jordanian mothers and noncitizen fathers apply and meet certain criteria, they may gain access to certain services enjoyed by citizens, including access to free primary and secondary education and subsidized health care; the ability to own property, invest, obtain a Jordanian driver’s license; and have employment priority over other foreigners. The minister of interior stated that this ruling affected 88,983 families, including 355,932 children, in which the father lacked Jordanian citizenship. An estimated 55,000 of these fathers were of Palestinian origin. To access these services, children must obtain a special identification card through the Civil Status Bureau. To qualify, applicants must prove the maternal relationship, that the Jordanian mother has been resident in Jordan for five years, and that the children currently reside in Jordan. In April the Civil Status Bureau began issuing identification cards to replace the initial certificates. By law the cabinet may approve citizenship for children of Jordanian mothers and foreign fathers, but this mechanism was not widely known, and approval rarely occurred.
Women may not petition for citizenship for noncitizen husbands, who may apply for citizenship only after fulfilling a requirement of 15 years’ continuous residency. Once a husband has obtained citizenship, he may apply to transmit citizenship to his children. Such an application could take years, and the government could deny the application. Activists did not identify any obstacles standing in the way of naturalization for men who fulfilled this residency requirement.
Syrian refugees were sometimes unable to obtain birth certificates for children born in the country if they could not present an official marriage certificate or other nationality documents, which were sometimes lost or destroyed when they fled, or government authorities confiscated them when the refugees entered the country. Refugee households headed by women faced difficulty in certifying nationality of offspring in absence of the father, which increased the risk of statelessness among this population. Authorities established civil registry departments and sharia courts in the Za’atri and Azraq camps to help refugees register births.