Amendments being suggested to Jordan’s 2008 Law of Association will “grant the government legal authority to dissolve groups on vague grounds or deny their ability to obtain foreign funding without justification, and violate international human rights law protections on the right to free association”, Human Rights Watch warned.
In a statement published on Sunday, the organisation said the new amendments, which may be passed temporarily until a new government is setup in late September, include prohibiting the registration of any group whose aims violate “national security, public safety, public health, public order, public morals, or the rights and freedom of others.”
The amendments also stipulate that upon the recommendation of a relevant minister the registration committee may “dissolve an association if it turns out practices violate these purposes.”
The proposed amendments also place new restrictions on foreign NGOs that operate “local branches” inside Jordan. Such groups would require approval of Jordan’s council of ministers before transferring funds into the country, approval which can be denied without justification.
Jordanian authorities have justified the new measures by arguing that they needed to better organize the nongovernmental sector and avoid duplication of work by various groups. “The foreign funding control mechanism, however, effectively gives Jordanian authorities the ability to choose what projects NGOs are permitted to carry out in each sector, thus undermining their ability to function free of disproportionate government interference,” Human Rights Watch warned.