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Jordanian Cabinet Approves New Public Assembly Laws

In a move that improves, but does not yet reverse the deterioration of civil liberties in Jordan, the government recently approved a new public assembly law granting its citizens greater freedom to peacefully assemble. The law incorporates some of the recommendations Human Rights Watch made in a recent report, in which we documented the extent to which the Jordanian government has used increasingly restrictive laws to silence both its critics and civic groups that train election monitors. Public meetings or demonstrations, we showed, require pre-approval by Jordanian officials and can be denied without explanation. In our report and subsequent advocacy, we pressed the Jordanian government to amend its laws restricting the rights of Jordanians to assemble peacefully. The new policies expedite the approval process for public meetings and demonstrations and force the authorities to justify turning down requests for public meetings. NGOs and other civic groups receive automatic approval for their meetings. Human Rights Watch is recommending that the law, which still needs to pass Parliament, contain further improvements so as to represent a first step toward a more open society in Jordan.

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