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3 July 2023

Statement on the First Anniversary of the court decision to reopen the Jordanian Teachers Syndicate

Front Line Defenders strongly condemns the continued inaction of the Jordanian authorities in reopening the Jordanian Teachers’ Syndicate, despite a court decision on 26 June 2022 requiring the syndicate's reopening and, as mandated by law, the election of an interim committee.

Despite the passage of an entire year, the Jordanian authorities have failed to take any meaningful steps to implement the court's decision and restore the rights and representation of teachers. The union’s prolonged closure of almost three years not only undermines the fundamental rights of teachers but also obstructs their ability to advocate for improved working conditions and educational reforms and represents a disregard for the principles of the rule of law. It further exacerbates the challenges faced by teachers and hampers their ability to organise and exercise their rights as part a professional union.

The Jordanian Teacher's Syndicate (JTS) was an influential professional union that was re-established in 2011. It represented over 140,000 teachers in Jordan in accordance with Law Number 14 of the year 2011. The Syndicate played a significant role in advocating for the rights and interests of teachers, including improved working conditions, salary increases, and other reforms. In July 2020, the JTS was forcibly shut down when the police raided and closed its headquarters, along with all 11 branches and its training academy. Despite a final court decision in June 2022 to reopen the syndicate, it remains closed to this day.

On 26 June 2022, the Amman Court of First Instance, acting in its capacity as an Appeals Court, approved the dissolution of the Syndicate's board while allowing the operation of the Syndicate to continue. This decision followed the Syndicate's appeal against its closure and the dissolution of its board by the state prosecutor. The court decision effectively necessitates the organisation of elections for a new syndicate board.

As per Article 27 of the Syndicate Law, in the event of dissolution, the Minister of Education is obligated to establish an interim committee to manage the JTS and facilitate the election of a new board within six months. Despite the passage of a considerable period since the court decision, the Jordanian authorities have not taken any steps to reopen the syndicate or initiate the election of an interim committee as required by law.

Since 2019, the Jordanian authorities have engaged in an ongoing campaign of retaliation against teachers and union members who protest for improved wages and work conditions. This campaign has taken various forms, including prosecutions of members of the Syndicate's board, mass arrests, forced retirement of activist teachers, surveillance, and the use of "administrative detention," amongst other forms of harassment.

The failure of the Jordanian authorities to comply with the court decision reflects the reality of their failure to uphold human rights and respect the rule of law amid the ongoing shrinking space for civil society in Jordan. The continued closure of the syndicate reaffirms that dissenting voices and independent associations are not tolerated in Jordan, undermining the rights to freedom of association and expression.

On this significant anniversary, Front Line Defenders stands in solidarity with the Jordanian Teachers’ Syndicate. Front Line Defenders calls on the Jordanian government to fulfil its legal obligations by immediately reopening the syndicate, and facilitating the election of an interim committee to restore the vital role of the syndicate in safeguarding the rights and interests of teachers.

It further calls on the Jordanian government to guarantee the fundamental rights and democratic freedoms of all Jordanian unions’ members and human rights defenders, including their freedoms of opinion, expression, assembly and association without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions.