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Jordan’s Child Rights Record in the Spotlight

Nationality Law, Access to Education Key Issues Under UN Review

A Jordanian woman married to a foreign national carrying her daughter, one of her four children without Jordanian citizenship, on February 9, 2018 in Amman, Jordan. © 2018 Amanda Bailly for Human Rights Watch

It’s been almost a decade since the United Nations child rights committee last examined Jordan’s record on children’s rights. That changes today, and the committee’s experts have a lot to discuss.

Thousands of children in Jordan who are born to Jordanian mothers and non-Jordanian fathers spend their entire lives treated as foreign nationals by the state. They struggle to find work, own property, travel, enroll in higher education, and access government healthcare and other services, all because of a discriminatory law that denies children of Jordanian women the same right to citizenship as the children of Jordanian men have. 

These children are not the only ones facing barriers in access to basic rights in the country. Since the armed conflict in Syria began in 2011, thousands of refugee children in Jordan, particularly those aged 12 and above, have not received the education they are entitled to. Living in poverty, many have had to work or marry, or could not afford school transportation. After being forced to drop out, most children often had no path back to formal education.

Jordanian and refugee children with disabilities have not been afforded their right to an inclusive education or reasonable accommodations in schools. Jordan’s disability rights strategy lacks sufficient resources, and progress remains slow.

The UN committee’s independent child rights experts will have the opportunity to directly pose questions to the Jordanian delegation on issues ranging from barriers to essential services and education to the protection of education from attack and corporal punishment. The education ministry has banned violent discipline at school and conducted outreach on positive discipline, but corporal punishment is still not fully prohibited in all settings. The committee can call on Jordan to explicitly ban the practice everywhere, including in the home. 

Now’s the chance for the Jordanian government to outline its efforts to respect, protect, and fulfil children’s fundamental rights.

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