Civilization began in what is now Jordan several thousand years before the legendary empire of the Nabataeans and their capital, Petra. Some of the oldest human settlements ever were found on the east bank of the Jordan. Due to its location at the intersection of great civilizations, Jordan harbors important cultural and historical treasures, such as the epochal exhibition “Faces of the Orient” has shown. In the spring of 2013, a special exhibition at the Antikenmuseum Basel provided information about the “discovery” of Petra by the Swiss orientalist Jean Luis Burckhardt in the summer of 1812.
According to ehealthfacts, the emergence of the modern Jordanian state is closely related to the emergence of Israel and the Middle East conflict. Anyone who lives longer in Jordan would do well to study the past and present of Palestine and Israel intensively.
Independence Day: May 25, 1946
Head of state: King Abdullah II
Head of government: Previously Al-Khasawneh (since October 7, 2020)
Political system: Constitutional hereditary monarchy
Democracy Status Index (BTI): Rank 90 of 137 (2020)
Corruption Index (CPI): Rank 60 (from 180, descending, year 2019)
The national territory of today’s Jordan is part of the Near East cultural area, which historically included Eastern Anatolia, Mesopotamia, Syria and Palestine and which was in lively economic and cultural exchange with Egypt, among others.
In accordance with the relevant UN conventions, Jordan has a state-run National Human Rights Center. Its tasks include the documentation of human rights violations and the dissemination of human rights culture in the country: the latter, for example, by training multipliers and introducing human rights education in schools.
In addition, there are several independent organizations that work in various ways to ensure compliance with human rights and human rights education in the country: Mizan Law Group, the Amman Center for Human Rights Studies, the women’s rights organization SIGI / Jordan, and the Jordan branch of Save The Children (Youth and Children’s Rights).
In early 2019, Amnesty International criticized the existence of torture, solitary confinement and administrative detention (up to a year). AI also criticized Jordan for continuing to impose the death penalty, although the death penalty was not carried out in 2018. Further criticism came from AI because of the pronounced discrimination against women.
The human rights organization “Human Rights Watch” also complains about discrimination against women and girls, the lack of freedom of expression and torture in numerous prisons, but also emphasizes positive legislative reforms, including for the equality of the disabled. Human Rights Watch also criticizes the fact that peaceful demonstrators are brought to special courts in Jordan. The organization Equal Rights Trust has also published a critical report on torture in Jordan.
The Jordanian Constitution is ambivalent about human rights. On the one hand, the basic civil liberties are guaranteed. On the other hand, the human rights of Jordanians can be subordinated to “national interests”. The constitutionally guaranteed equality of men and women is largely worthless, because in civil status and inheritance law, depending on religious affiliation, canon law or Sharia law, which in its Jordanian version puts women and girls at a great disadvantage. Another factor that limits the human rights of Jordanians is the anti-terror legislation passed in 2006.
Jordan’s media landscape is mainly Arabic-speaking, but there are also some English-language media. In the international press freedom ranking by Reporters Without Borders, Jordan is currently in 128th place out of 180, with the freest country taking first place. In the current annual report on Jordan, the human rights organization Freedom House describes Jordan as “partially free”.
Under current press law, journalists working for local media in Jordan must be members of the state-controlled Jordan Press Association (JPA). This can exclude journalists if they do not report true to the line. The press law forbids critical reports about the royal family, the army, members of parliament and “foreign politicians who are friends”. Violations of these provisions are only punished with prison sentences in exceptional cases, but the amounts have increased rapidly. Freedom of the press is still hampered by the fact that the state holds large stakes in the main Jordanian daily newspapers.
The audiovisual sector was liberalized by law in 2004. Several private broadcasters have since been approved. The formerly pure Internet radio AmmanNet, a culturally and politically independent and ambitious broadcaster, went on air in the greater Amman area in 2005 on an FM frequency and was thus able to reach significantly more listeners than before. In 2008 the AmmanNet label was replaced by Radio Al-Balad. AmmanNet was also actively involved in founding Zahrat Al-Aghwar (“Blossom of the Jordan Valley”), the first women’s community radio in Jordan.
Due to technical conditions, access to the Internet can still be monitored by the Jordanian state. It has been restricted several times in Jordan over the past few years, according to Reporters Without Borders. The organization global voices warned of possible internet censorship. In individual cases, authors of Internet content were prosecuted and imprisoned in Jordan.