Between the US travel ban and the UK's halting of implementation of the “Dubs Amendment”
Tuesday, February 21, 2017
The Arab Renaissance for Democracy and Development – ARDD is alarmed by recent developments worldwide jeopardizing the rights of most vulnerable refugees. Specifically, we are alarmed by political decisions such as the January 27th executive order by President of the United States banning access to migrants and refugees from seven Muslim majority countries, along with UK’s decision to stop implementing the “Dubs Amendment” to the immigration Act 2016 (as of Feb 8, 2017) by which a specified number of unaccompanied refugee children currently under very strenous circumstances could have been brought to safe to the UK. These decisions not only disregard commitments and responsibilities vis-à-vis international humanitarian law, but also seriously threaten the most vulnerable refugees who are fleeing war and conflict, and who may be torn apart further or prevented from being reunited.
Over the years, our organization has worked with refugees from different nationalities in Jordan. Despite difference in size, capacity and wealth, the country currently hosts nearly 72 times more Syrian refugees than the United States, and nearly 260 times more than the UK. While ARDD understands the challenges that come with the influx of refugees into host countries, we are deeply concerned by the risks posed by illegal migration. In February 2015 ARDD launched its protection campaign “Don’t Go: Protect, Inform, Act!” with the purpose to inform refugees and migrants of their rights and dangers to life and well-being of illegal migration bears, while urging the international community to find solutions to the crises leading to mass displacement that affects the Middle East and North Africa.
ARDD urges the international community to strongly oppose this concerning trend of political decisions and to step up to adequately respond to the consequences of war and displacement by abiding to international commitments and humanitarian values, while maintaining, and if possible, increasing their support to UNHCR and its partners. While criticism of the US travel ban and its temporary halt by the American judiciary are important steps in the right direction, they are unfortunately not enough. Political decisions such as those of the UK and USA, further pose a direct threat to the fragile stability in countries of first refuge, such as Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan, while at the same time spreading of more hostility against refugees worldwide
Finally, as a legal aid organisation ARDD is deeply inspired by the brave response of the many lawyers, judges, law firms and volunteers who took to the airports in the US to support the stranded passengers and refugees and used their legal skills to help those who are most vulnerable, as well as the civil society and legal organizations and volunteers working to protect refugee children stranded in France and elsewhere in Europe. We congratulate them in solidarity for their courage and unwavering commitment to human rights and the rule of law which are paramount for maintaining justice.
Campaign to issue birth certificates for children above "one" year
Sunday, February 19, 2017
Arab Renaissance for Democracy and Development in cooperation with UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) launches a project to provide legal services in 2017.
The campaign encourages Syrian refugees in Jordan (inside and outside the camps) to follow up the issue of birth certificates for those children over the age of one year that were unable to get a birth certificate due to obstacles and diverse reasons, considering that these certificates are required for many legal procedures in accordance with the law in Jordan. ARDD will provide the necessary legal help to facilitate and clarify the legal procedures for issuing birth certificates through a team of specialized legal advisers. UNHCR will cover all the necessary legal costs for the completion of these procedures.
In the interest of addressing the matters relating to the various documents of Syrian refugees, this campaign is a result of the continuous efforts made by ARDD in cooperation with UNHCR and all concerned authorities in Jordan. Birth certificates are one of the most important documents to legalize children’s status in Jordan and protect their rights.
All successes thanks to the great efforts made in legal advocacy by UNHCR and its legal partner (Arab Renaissance for Democracy and Development organization) and all concerned authorities for their continued support led by the Ministry of Interior and the Syrian Refugees Affairs Directorate.
Why do we need gender sensitive services for women seeking justice?
Tuesday, January 31, 2017
Despite the significant gains in women’s rights in Jordan, there is still much work to be done; especially concerning gender sensitivity in institutions offering legal assistance (Husseini, 2010). For instance, a study by UN WOMEN (2015) found that 61% of a sample of judges, prosecutors and lawyers acknowledged that women face challenges in legal institutions because of their gender. These challenges were reported to be mainly due to a lack of specific procedures for dealing with violence against women (VAW) and the knowledge and attitudes regarding women’s vulnerabilities.
When it comes to seeking legal assistance, an analysis on the nature of the disputes in court revealed significant gender differences. For example, women are more likely to report Personal Status Law disputes, such as child custody, divorce, alimony, etc. On the other hand, women are discouraged to make these disputes public and are usually doing it without the support of their families, putting them in an even more vulnerable situation
Furthermore, women who suffer gender-based violence, and seek support from police and/or other institutions, are in a higher state of vulnerability. In addition, given the fact that the staff of public and formal institutions are often male dominated and lack the necessary training to deal with these cases, women may feel threatened or scared to file complaints.
These discrepancies do not occur because the laws in Jordan are overtly discriminatory. In fact, the Jordanian Constitution states that “all shall be equal before the law”. Nevertheless, there is still much room for improvement, such as enabling gender-sensitive services by conducting proper training (through a gender perspective) of police and court staff , ensure that procedures and policies are being implemented, and promote a change in knowledge and attitudes regarding women who seek the support of formal legal services, especially those who are victims of violence.
Every day women and girls are subject to different forms of violence. The widespread social acceptance of this violence against women and girls (VAWG) is due to a lack of legal awareness, a bias in legislation and an unequal implementation of the law. To discuss the issues of this topic, the local Jordanian TV station 7 Stars hosted HE Dr. Sawsan Majali, Member of Jordanian Senate,HE Ms. Wafa’a Bani Mustafa Member of the Jordanian Parliament, and Director of the Arab Renaissance for Democracy and Development (ARDD) Ms. Samar Muhareb on the 23rd January.
Regarding VAWG, lack of legal awareness was brought up as one of the most pressing issues, and as Dr. Sawsan Majali stated “lack of legal awareness is a major problem in Jordan and is one of the root causes for violence against women”. According to Ms. Samar Muhareb, Director at ARDD, the lack of awareness of legislation and the know-how in dealing with various crimes and violations that fall under VAWG are some of the pressing issues.
The legislations and laws in Jordan show a state of legal discrimination, according to MP Wafa’a Bani Mustafa, she identifies two states of discrimination: (1) inequality between men and women’s legal status, and (2) the inequality between men and women in the enforcement of the law. Bani Mustafa argues that legislations are highly discriminatory against women, all the way from the constitutional level, and down to various laws like the Penal Code, Personal Status Law, Labour Law and Citizenship Laws among others. In regards to the inequality between genders, examples range from Jordanian women being prevented from passing their citizenship to their spouses or children, the law only recognizes the father as the sole legal guardian, and that women face bigger hardships than men when divorcing.
ARDD, along with other organisations, are calling on the parliament to take the demands of civil society and the feminist movement into consideration in amending the Penal Code, stated Ms. Samar Muhareb. In addition, Dr. Sawsan Majali stressed the need for better communication between civil society organisations and activists in the field of women’s rights to provide solid numbers and cases to the legislators in order to showcase the impact of the implementation or lack of protection in the law for people in Jordan.
Civil society organisations are currently working to empower women to understand the judicial process and be able to claim their rights, ensuring access to gender sensitive services and to make communities, in general, aware of the rights guaranteed to women under the Constitution, which states that all Jordanians shall be equal before the law. ARDD is currently working with two such projects: Know Her Rights and Women’s Access to Justice Phase 2.
Know Her Rights is a project a two-year project implemented by ARDD and funded by the UN Trust Fund. The goal of this project is to support women and girls to exercise their right to live a life free from sexual and gender-based violence in Jordan through awareness-raising and advocacy by different sectors in the community such as women’s organizations, national media, and educational professionals. On the 17th January, this year, ARDD hosted a panel discussion that engaged key civil society actors to raise awareness about VAWG. This discussion aimed at increasing the knowledge base on different forms of violence faced in Jordan.
ARDD works actively to fight injustices against women by promoting enhanced access to justice, which is exactly what the second phase of the project Women’s Access to Justice aims to do. Implemented in partnership with Oxfam and funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland, the project’s aim is to reduce the vulnerability and suffering of disadvantaged women by building on their human capital, facilitating their access to the legal system and securing just outcomes. As part of its advocacy efforts, the WAJ project plans to conduct an advocacy campaign which aims at contributing to equitable access to justice for poor and vulnerable women by facilitating and creating a gender sensitive and informative environment at the Zarqa Sharia Court. Despite the noticeable changes in women’s access to justice in Jordan, there is still room for improvements, especially at the administrative/procedural level. Overall, the legal system lacks the capacity to respond to women’s needs, for example, the environment within the court is not adequate to support women and they often face unsympathetic and intimidating male court staff, especially in Sharia courts that are solely composed by men. Therefore, by facilitating and creating a gender sensitive environment in the court, with sensitized court staff, visible and user-friendly way to follow procedures, women will be more likely to use the judicial system and exercise their rights.
These two projects complement each other on crucial parts, and seek similar aims and goals. Hence, ARDD works to promote awareness of rights as well as provide venues for vulnerable people to access their rights and entitlements. As were stated by Wafa’a Bani Mustafa in the interview, “Knowing your rights is the first step towards claiming them”.
How can Youth use the Law to Promote Accountability in their Communities?
Sunday, January 8, 2017
How can Youth use the Law to Promote Accountability in their Communities?
Accountability means holding actors responsible for their actions, independently and objectively measuring their activities against their commitments, identifying wrong-doing and seeking remedies when it occurs. So how can youth in Jordan use the law and legal mechanisms to promote accountability in their communities and address the issues that matter most?
Identify the issues that concern you most
Jordan has one of the youngest demographics in the world, with people under 30 constituting over 70% of the population.  With a high level of education, youth in Jordan have tremendous potential, but face serious difficulties in accessing the labour market and experience exploitation within it. Unemployment is particularly high amongst female youth at 41.8% in 2012. Amongst the Syrian refugee population in Jordan, child marriage has been seen as a coping mechanism and has doubled in recent years. In addition, refugee youth, including Iraqi, Somali, Sudanese, Yemeni and Palestinian youth without Jordanian citizenship, face barriers in access to education and healthcare. 
Know your rights
If the first step to promoting accountability is identifying the issues you want to address, the second is: knowing your rights.
In work, if you are able to obtain a work permit, you have the right to an employment contract, a minimum wage, at least 14 days per year annual leave, 14 days sick pay on the production of medical reports, a 48 hour per week limitation on your working hours (or overtime compensation), social security and compensation in the case of work-related injury. Women have the right to paid maternity leave for up to 10 weeks and one paid hour for nursing per day from the date of delivery.
Even if you are married at a young age, it is essential to register marriages and births in order to ensure your children can exercise their rights to access education and healthcare.
Gazan Palestinian youth and Syrian youth have the right to access state healthcare at the rate of uninsured Jordanians. The Red Crescent Hospital in Amman also provides healthcare to Syrian youth. UNHCR (through JHAS and Caritas) and UNRWA provide healthcare to other refugee youth.
Syrian and Iraqi children have the right to free state education, as do Palestinian children who are the descendants of 1948 refugees. Palestinian children from Gaza and Syria can access education through UNRWA schools. Other non-Jordanians can access state education at the rate of 40-60JD per year.
Under Jordanian Law, students have the right to a safe classroom environment and outdoor space and Student Discipline 2007 General Rules Section Alif, Number 1 forbids corporal punishment in schools. Disabled students are the beneficiaries of additional rights including: a student-teacher ratio of 6:1 and there are multiple provisions aimed at ensuring accessibility.
Jordan has ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and published it in its official law gazette, rendering it applicable in domestic cases concerning youth under the age of 18. The Kingdom has also ratified other international human rights conventions including the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
There are three essential steps to using the law to promote accountability:
Identify the issues that concern you most
Know your rights
Seek legal advice and support
We know that youth in Jordan face many difficulties and the issues outlined above are just a few. It is essential that you seek help in tackling the problems you face by searching for organisation that are specialised in providing legal assistance. Even if these organisation are not able to assist you, they may be able to point you in the direction of another organisation who can. We hope you find this information useful and wish you the best in promoting greater accountability in your community!