Rule of Law Programs in Jordan

Criminal Law Reform and Anti-Human Trafficking

Fighting human trafficking

Since 2010, the ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) has been supporting Jordan’s efforts to combat human trafficking. Our work focuses on increasing Jordan’s capacity to prosecute human trafficking cases and on strengthening protection for victims, including by enhancing the quality of available legal services. There are a host of organizations working to fight human trafficking in Jordan, and ABA ROLI assists the country’s Ministry of Justice in coordinating the organizations’ efforts. We train the ministry’s staff and help with organizing coordination meetings. We also support the national committee against human trafficking, which was established in March 2010.

ABA ROLI trains judges, prosecutors and police on anti-human trafficking topics and has developed a human trafficking-focused judicial curriculum. ABA ROLI has also published two editions of a related benchbook. Further, we train lawyers and non-governmental organization staff on victim identification and legal service provision. Our public awareness initiatives include conducting media campaigns, educating migrant workers and supporting clinical education programs in law schools. We conduct interviews with potential human trafficking victims and have helped to return more than 100 vulnerable women migrant workers back to their countries.

Training judges and lawyers

Each year, hundreds of judges and lawyers participate in ABA ROLI-organized professional development opportunities, including workshops on both traditional topics and emerging legal issues. Trainings address local and international human rights laws, judicial and legal ethics, as well as communication and leadership skills. We create opportunities that allow judges-in-training to observe such institutions as prisons, shelters and rehabilitation centers and to understand how these institutions support the justice system. Practical training sessions for young judges highlight the social reality of victims and defendants. For the past three years, each group of newly appointed judges has participated in a year-long mentoring program that combines training sessions with opportunities to learn from senior judges. ABA ROLI also holds additional development opportunities for women judges.

ABA ROLI programs for lawyers include sessions on law practice management and on essential elements of client representation. ABA ROLI trains non-governmental organization (NGO) lawyers to better understand their clients’ legal issues and to identify when clients may be victims of complicated crimes, such as human trafficking. Between September 2013 and June 2014, ABA ROLI engaged new women lawyers in a series of professional development opportunities, including 12 sessions on legal writing and trying criminal cases, to enhance their legal skills.

Judicial Programs

Judicial Ethics, Independence and Integrity

ABA ROLI experts conducted an assessment of judicial independence and integrity in Jordan and identified key challenges in both law and practice. They noted particularly the lack of an official ethics guide for judges. ABA ROLI has since worked closely with a group of judges to develop a clear and viable system of judicial ethics and accountability in Jordan, including a judicial code of conduct. In April 2006, the Judicial Council (JC) approved the formation of the permanent Ethics and Accountability Committee (EAC), a watchdog organization that can continue to address the reform of judicial accountability systems, and named six judges to serve on it. ABA ROLI has conducted ethics training for judges. It has developed an ethics curriculum to be used in the training and continuing education of judges and court employees, and a judicial benchbook on ethics. It has also conducted a national public awareness campaign on judicial ethics.

Judicial Training

The ABA ROLI conducted a comprehensive assessment of judicial education and training in Jordan in 2004. It found out that shortage of staff as well as modern facilities and equipment at the Judicial Training Institute of Jordan (JIJ) hindered the training of judicial candidates and the continuing education of judges in Jordan. ABA ROLI developed a plan for improving the performance of the JIJ and conducted a strategic planning workshop for JIJ board members and other stakeholders to initiate its implementation. In addition, the ABA ROLI has supported basic computer training for judges, including a pilot court computerization project, in Amman. ABA ROLI also conducted judicial training programs related to specific project areas, including judicial ethics and alternative dispute resolution (ADR).

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Experts and local stakeholders have expressed considerable concern about Jordan's overburdened court system, citing decreased accessibility to justice and public dissatisfaction with the courts. ABA ROLI introduced court mediation as an alternative to Jordan’s lengthy, costly litigation process. Legislative amendment to Jordan’s Mediation Law, mediation trainings for judges and lawyers, awareness sessions, a media campaign, and the development of materials—including public brochures, forms and a code of ethics for mediators—were part of the necessary preparation.

The Amman Court of First Instance launched Jordan's first court mediation program on June 1, 2006. In remarks made during the launch ceremony, the minister of justice and chief justice indicated Jordan’s confidence in the project's ability to increase efficiency of the court system and to serve as a model for the future expansion of judicial mediation throughout Jordan.  In January 2007, the Ministry of Justice opened four new mediation centers and continued expansion is underway. Plans are being made to replicate court mediation across the Kingdom. A new department was opened at the ministry to direct this effort. As of June 30, 2008, almost 1200 cases had been referred to court mediation with a settlement rate near 70% and with overwhelming satisfaction by parties.

Legal Education Programs and Civic Education

Enhancing university legal education

Since 2005, ABA ROLI has helped Jordanian law schools adopt international best practices, including by introducing new courses that address developments in substantive law and utilize interactive teaching methods. We also helped the schools incorporate skills-building extra-curricular activities—such as clinical education, externships and moot-court competitions—into their programs. ABA ROLI has consistently held workshops, study trips, classroom observations and mentoring for law professors, fostering interactive teaching. These efforts have led to many of the professors adopting interactive approaches to engage their students. Additionally, ABA ROLI worked with law professors to enhance existing curriculum and design new courses. Interest among universities in clinics culminated in the formation in 2014 of the Jordanian Clinical Legal Education Association, which will serve as a forum for sharing expertise among the 12 participating universities.

Conducting public legal education

Each year, thousands of Jordanians participate in ABA ROLI awareness sessions on personal status laws, domestic violence, employee rights and gender equality. ABA ROLI works with local partners to organize the sessions, which are led by clinical legal education students or NGO staff, to engage citizens in rare opportunities to learn about their rights, responsibilities and access to legal services. ABA ROLI conducts needs-assessment focus groups, trains trainers on substantive issues and presentation skills, and surveys participants on trainer performance and session usefulness. In 2013, ABA ROLI partnered with a local research organization to conduct a perception survey to gage Jordanians’ knowledge of their rights, confidence in the court system and access to justice. The findings continue to inform rights awareness sessions.

ABA ROLI partners with NGOs that provide follow-up services, such as legal aid, counseling and referrals to health or humanitarian assistance, to participants of the public education sessions. Additionally, in 2014, ABA ROLI worked with a group of NGOs to publish a comprehensive guide—covering laws on divorce, social security and land lord-tenant relationships—for women.

Building the capacity of human rights organizations

ABA ROLI works to strengthen the capacity of semi-governmental and non-governmental organizations to discharge their organizational mandates. We help the organizations develop concepts, implement activities and write program or budget reports. We also assist them in identifying and adopting best practices. ABA ROLI has supported local monitoring of the implementation of human rights laws, public surveys, shadow reporting, advocacy, contributions to the recent UN reviews on the rights of the child and the Universal Periodic Review, the development of materials and public education on emerging human rights issues. Moreover, ABA ROLI encourages cooperation among local organizations, fostering new partnerships that lead to more efficient, effective and sustainable work.