The US Department of State recently launched its Country Report on Human Rights Practices 2005. This is what they said about Jordan:

Although the government respected human rights in some areas, its overall record continued to reflect problems. The following human rights problems were reported:

  • restrictions on the right of citizens to change their government
  • allegations of torture
  • continued police abuse and reported mistreatment of detainees
  • arbitrary arrest and prolonged detention
  • instances of impunity
  • denial of due process of law
  • limited judicial independence
  • infringement on citizens’ privacy rights
  • harassment of members of opposition political parties
  • restrictions on freedom of speech, press, assembly, association and movement
  • restrictions on some religious practices
  • legal and societal discrimination against women
  • "honor" crimes
  • child abuse
  • discrimination against Palestinians
  • restrictions on labor rights
  • abuse of foreign domestic workers

You can read the full report here. When it comes to restrictions on freedom of speech and press, the report is dead on. The latest example: those brilliant Jordanian MPs asking for further restrictions on press freedom in Jordan (in Arabic) by allowing the jailing of journalists. Jordanian blogger Khalaf has written a brilliant post on the whole charade. Here is an excerpt:

Anyway, the National Guidance Committee in the house yesterday recommended reinstating jail crimes [Arabic] relating to "insulting fathers of three monotheistic religions and their prophets," and crimes of disrespect to the king, as well as any case where a judge might see fit a jail sentence. The last one actually covers everything one might imagine. The committee left the recommended elevated fines in place and added the jail option. I am surprised that they didn’t recommend dunking the offenders in boiling oil as well. The retarded parliament rejects tough sentences against so-called honor killings, but thinks that un-orthodox views should never be expressed, and should be punished by unreasonably tough measures. I’m nauseous.

Meanwhile, Abu Aardvark points to an Al-Quds Al-Arabi article (in Arabic) that says: "Jordan’s official TV station has just been yanked out of the hands of the relatively liberal Mustafa Hamarneh." The Aardvark comments:

Hamarneh had been trying to revamp Jordan TV, amidst great controversy and political struggles, though I couldn’t say how much success he’d had. The changes put JTV back in the hands of conservative figures, some of whom reportedly lack any experience whatsoever in television or even the media. Though there may well be some personal politics beneath the surface here, the net result strikes me as very bad. I’m looking forward to the expected launch of the private satellite television station by the owners of the liberal newspaper al-Ghad.

These are indeed dark days for press freedom in Jordan.