In February 2010, the ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) launched a program to combat trafficking in persons (TIP) in Jordan. The program focuses on prevention, prosecution and public awareness, with an emphasis on enhancing the quality of legal services available to victims of TIP. ABA ROLI’s work will begin with an assessment of the efforts of international and local organizations dealing with human trafficking issues. There are a host of organizations working to fight TIP in Jordan, and ABA ROLI will assist the Jordanian Ministry of Justice in coordinating their efforts and supporting the recently-established Jordanian National Anti-Trafficking Committee.
We will provide trainings and develop curricula and guides for lawyers, judges, prosecutors and police on anti-human trafficking topics. We will also educate stakeholders about Jordan’s new anti-human trafficking strategy. By training and educating the professionals, such as police and judges, who are most likely to deal with TIP victims, ABA ROLI will improve the quality of services available to TIP victims in Jordan.
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.
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).
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.
One of ABA ROLI's objectives is to enhance the future performance of judges and lawyers in Jordan by improving legal education. Partnering with law faculty deans and professors, attorneys, the Ministry of Higher Education and the Ministry of Justice, the ABA ROLI has engaged stakeholders in activities to build consensus on reform efforts. Two national workshops held in 2005 and 2007 resulted in a series of recommendations to advance legal education reform in Jordan.
Since 2005, the ABA ROLI has been working with nine local universities and has engaged professors and students in skills building workshops and other activities designed to introduce effective alternatives to the traditionally lecture and exam based methods of legal education in Jordan. ABA ROLI has introduced interactive teaching methods to law professors through workshops and study trips, and has gradually built the capacity of local professors to take the lead in skills building student activities in and outside of the classroom. ABA ROLI supported student activities include moot court, a legal writing competition hosted by Jordan’s National Center for Human Rights, summer practicum sessions and externships. ABA ROLI has also assisted local professors in the development of new courses such as Legal Research and Writing, Legal English, and ADR. The ABA ROLI is continuing efforts to institutionalize experiential learning at law schools and to encourage professors to focus on core skills needed for the job market.