GENEVA- The Geneva Council for Rights and Liberties (GCRL) is following with concern the campaign of arrest carried out by the Jordanian security services during the impediment of a Teachers’ Syndicate event in the Karak governorate of southern Jordan.
On Monday, August 9, 2021, the Jordanian security forces detained at least 30 teachers, including the deputy head of JTS, Nasser Al-Nawasra, and council members Kifah Abu Farhan, Abdul Salam Al-Ayasra and Ghaleb Abu Qadis, as they headed to Al-Thaniya roundabout in Karak, where the sit-in would have been held, before releasing them later. The sit-in area witnessed an intense security deployment, and the roads leading to it were closed to prevent teachers and their sympathizers from their right to peaceful assembly.
The security forces stopped many passersby, checked their identification cards, detained some teachers at the sit-in, and took them to a nearby governorate building. The Teachers’ Syndicate called for a sit-in to protest the illegal measures against the union and their right as teachers who have been referred to deposition and retirement.
Ghaleb Abu Qadis, a member of the Teachers’ Syndicate Council, said that the security services did not produce any legal warrant upon their arrest, and did not inform the detainees of the reasons for the arrest. The council noted this campaign against the teachers’ union started first on July 25, 2020, after police raided JTS headquarters in Amman and 11 of its branches across the country and detained all of its council members before releasing them over a month later. The authorities prevented the protests, dispersed many of them by force, arrested many teachers and protesters, and kept some of them in detention. On August 23, authorities released union council members after a month in detention, but other union leaders and protesters were still detained.
GCRL affirms that arbitrary detention, prohibition of peaceful assembly, and restriction of freedom of expression constitute a violation of the Jordanian constitution Article 15 of which states, “The State shall guarantee freedom of opinion. Every Jordanian shall be free to express his opinion by speech, in writing, or using photographic representation and other forms of expression, provided that such does not violate the law.”
These practices also constitute a violation of human rights covenants, especially the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; Article 21 states: “The right to peaceful assembly shall be recognized. No restrictions may be placed on the exercise of this right other than those imposed in conformity with the law and which are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security or public safety, public order, the protection of public health or morals, or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.”
The Council stresses the right of trade unions to exercise their activities and tasks freely, and this is one of the basic provisions of international human rights, which is included in the Convention (No. 87) on freedom of association and protection of the right to organize.
It was adopted by the General Conference of the International Labor Organization, which affirmed the protection of trade unions from dissolution or suspension under an administrative decision, and the right of trade unions to provide immunity for their headquarters and secure their correspondence and telephone communications. The Geneva Council calls on the Jordanian government to end its restrictions on trade union work, which affect the right to peaceful assembly and the right to opinion and expression, stop intimidating teachers, and ensure a return to their union activities.