The 1952 Constitution of Jordan (as amended) does not guarantee fundamental human rights, such as the rights to life and to freedom from inhumane treatment. However, Article 16(i) provides that "Jordanians shall have the right to hold meetings within the limits of the law".
Article 127(ii) of the Constitution stipulates that: "The organisation of the police and gendarmerie, including their powers, shall be defined by law."
|1966 Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)||State Party|
|ICCPR Optional Protocol 1||Not party|
|1984 Convention against Torture (CAT)||State Party|
|Competence of CAT Committee to receive individual complaints||No|
|CAT Optional Protocol 1||Not party|
|1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court||State Party|
|2004 Arab Charter of Human Rights||State Party|
Police Use of Force
Article 35 of Public Security Law No. 38 of 1965 requires law enforcement officials to carry out their duties with due respect for the dignity of their office, respect and courtesy to the public, and to carry out orders given to them within the limits of the law and regulations. Article 36 of the law includes a list of prohibited acts, but none of those relates to arrest, detention, torture or other ill-treatment.
Article 9 allows officials of the Public Security Directorate to use force in order to perform their duties. According to the law such use of force should be limited to cases when it is the last resort. The law limits the use of force to the following cases:
- arrest: for any person convicted of a felony or misdemeanour or convicted for over three months if he/she attempts to resist or flee;
- any person charged of felony, or caught committing misdemeanour punishable by no less then six months, if he/she attempts to resist or flee; and
- while guarding detainees, in circumstances specified by the law.
The law provides that under each of these circumstances, use of firearms is allowed only if it is the only way available to achieve the purpose, and only after warnings.
The penalty imposed for excessive use of force under the Public Security Law ranges from disciplinary measures to two months of imprisonment.
In 2006, Jordan's Court of Cassation ruled that the Public Security Act, which does not clearly prohibit torture or ill-treatment, constitutes a lex specialis in relation to the Criminal Code. In practice, it is said that this means that public officials who use excessive force, which may amount to torture, may effectively evade responsibility under Article 208 of the Criminal Code and thus heavier penalties. Torture is defined and criminalised under Article 208, which was amended in 2014 to remove the word “illegal" before "torture”.
In 2017, the Human Rights Committee noted that Article 81(c) of the Law on public security allows the Director of the Public Security Directorate to adjudicate acts of torture as misdemeanours carrying a prison sentence of less than three years. It also noted with concern the lack of an independent complaint mechanism for receiving and dealing with cases of alleged torture or ill-treatment.
There is no independent civilian police oversight body in Jordan. The Public Security Directorate (PSD), which is composed of the police, prison, and border services and falls under the authority of the Ministry of Interior, can receive complaints through its public prosecutors. But cases of alleged torture by security officials are referred not to independent civil courts but to police courts, which fall under the authority of the Ministry of the Interior.
Views and Concluding Observations of United Nations Treaty Bodies
In its 2017 Concluding Observations on Jordan, the Human Rights Committee did not address police use of force. In its Concluding Observations the year before, the Committee against Torture expressed its concern
at reports of excessive use of police force in dispersing demonstrations, including and in particular against journalists, which may amount to ill-treatment or torture.
The Committee was also concerned
that investigations into the use of force against journalists by police and security forces in relation to demonstrations that took place in April and in July 2011 were carried out by the Public Security Directorate that employs the alleged perpetrators, and that the investigations resulted in only disciplinary measures being taken against perpetrators in relation to the July 2011 demonstration, but none of the alleged perpetrators in either the April or the July 2011 events was prosecuted.
There is not yet an Arab regional human rights court with jurisdiction over Jordan.