The government maintained robust anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts. The 2009 anti-human trafficking law criminalizes all forms of sex and labor trafficking. Penalties for sex trafficking and forced labor of adults are a minimum of six months imprisonment and/or a fine ranging from 1,000-5,000 Jordanian Dinars ($1,410-$7,060). Penalties of less than one year imprisonment are not sufficiently stringent, and by allowing for a fine in lieu of imprisonment, the prescribed punishment is not commensurate with those for other serious crime, such as rape. The law imposes penalties of not more than 10 years imprisonment and a fine ranging between 5,000 and 20,000 Jordanian dinars ($7,060-$28,250) for the sex trafficking and forced labor of children, as well as for the sex trafficking of adults and other forms of adult trafficking in certain specified circumstances. Such circumstances include when the crime is transnational in nature or committed by an organized criminal group or a spouse, parent, guardian or public servant, if a weapon is used, or if the victim is a female with a disability or is injured. These penalties are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those prescribed for other grave crimes, such as rape or kidnapping. In keeping with international law, means of force, fraud, or coercion are not required to prove a crime of sex trafficking of children. The withholding of passports by an employer—a potential indicator of trafficking—is a crime under Jordan’s passport law with six months to three years imprisonment and financial penalties. During the reporting period, the government drafted amendments to the penal code that would enhance sentences for trafficking offenses and establish a fund to be used to protect trafficking victims. The draft amendments were submitted to the prime minister for review in January 2017 and remained pending at the end of the reporting period.
The government continued strong efforts to investigate potential trafficking cases and prosecute and convict trafficking offenders in 2016, on par with efforts in 2015. The Public Security Directorate and Ministry of Labor (MOL) joint anti-trafficking unit continued to investigate potential trafficking crimes. In 2016, the anti-trafficking unit investigated a total of 366 potential trafficking cases, 290 of which included labor violations involving domestic workers; the unit also inspected six recruitment agencies for mistreatment of foreign workers. Of the 366 investigations, the unit determined that 30 of these cases—involving 51 alleged traffickers—met the criteria for potential trafficking crimes, including sexual exploitation, forced labor of domestic workers, and other forced labor crimes. The government continued its effort from the previous year to investigate potential trafficking cases in the garment sector. For example, in July 2016, the MOL and an international organization jointly conducted inspections of two garment factories in the Qualified Industrial Zone in Irbid after allegations of abuse and other labor violations were reported by an NGO; although the investigations concluded labor violations took place, there was inadequate evidence to prove trafficking crimes occurred. Furthermore in February 2017, following allegations of labor abuses in another garment factory, the government ordered its immediate closure; it did not, however, investigate this factory for trafficking crimes.
The Ministry of Justice reported it initiated the prosecution of 39 new trafficking cases in 2016 and continued prosecution of 19 trafficking cases initiated in previous years. Of these 58 cases, 32 remained pending at the end of the reporting period. Of the 26 cases concluded in 2016, the government convicted 10 traffickers; in eight cases, offenders received sentences ranging from one to 15 years imprisonment, while offenders in two cases received sentences of six months imprisonment. Additionally, of the cases concluded in 2016, six resulted in full acquittals and three in convictions for lesser crimes, including fraud and passport withholding. NGOs and foreign embassy representatives continued to report the government preferred to settle potential cases of domestic servitude through mediation, rather than referring them for criminal prosecution. NGOs also raised concerns that the long litigation process for trafficking cases gave employers time to pressure victims to drop their cases. The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government officials complicit in trafficking offenses during the reporting period; it did not report updated information on two members of the General Intelligence Directorate who were charged with trafficking crimes in 2015.
The anti-trafficking unit continued to place specially trained officials in cities outside the capital, including Aqaba, Irbid, and Ramtha, but resources were primarily concentrated in Amman. The anti-trafficking unit reported conducting 30 anti-trafficking training workshops for hundreds of police, border guards, and labor inspectors; some of these trainings were held in coordination with NGOs and international organizations.