wikileaks ico  Home papers ico  Cables mirror and Afghan War Diary privacy policy Privacy
2004-03-02 14:56:00
Embassy Amman
Cable title:  


pdf how-to read a cable
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
						UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 AMMAN 001601 




E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: 03 AMMAN 7340 (NOTAL)


1. Following is Embassy Amman,s response to the
Department,s action request in State 7869. The headings and
lettering system are based on this request.




2. A. Based on the information available to post, Jordan is
not a country of origin or transit for trafficked men, women,
or children. An element of fraud may be involved in employing
and bringing some foreign domestic workers (FDWs) to Jordan.
In addition, some FDWs also end up in abusive situations, but
neither the GOJ nor the Embassy can establish a causal link
between fraud in recruitment and eventual abusive working
conditions. Estimates in fall 2003 for the total number of
FDWs ranged from 16,000 (the number of valid residence
permits issued to FDWs) to 50,000 (UNIFEM). From 15 July 2003
to end January 2004, 8220 FDWs were issued residence permits
through the Ministry of Labor (MoL). As permits are valid for
one year, this would parallel the estimate provided by the
MoL last year. This is clearly a low estimate, however, as it
does not include those working illegally (see reftel). There
are no reliable numbers available on how many may have come
to Jordan through the use of fraud.

B. The FDWs coming to Jordan are primarily from Sri Lanka,
Indonesia, and the Philippines, with much smaller numbers
from other countries.

C. Legal changes implemented during 2003 were aimed at
improving the conditions of FDWs. Specifically, previously
unregulated recruiting/employment agents must now be licensed
and all new FDWs are brought in under a standard labor
contract (see reftel). For example, the estimated up to 350
recruiting/employment agents operating in Jordan prior to
these changes are now limited to 68 licensed agents. The
agents must submit to a background check, deposit $70,000 in
an escrow account, and agree to standards of acceptable
conduct, among other requirements. UNIFEM and source country
embassies worked closely with the GOJ to draft the new
contract, which provides many protections not previously
accorded under Jordanian law, and copies of each signed,
enforceable contract are provided to the agents, source
country embassies, and the FDWs. These improvements have
almost certainly changed the extent of employment fraud
involving FDWs. However, the lack of historical data,
comprehensive statistics and the recentness of the changes
make the impact hard to evaluate.

D. The regulatory changes detailed in reftel will provide
more reliable statistics on the number of FDWs in Jordan, as
well as greater insight into their conditions.

E. Some FDWs in Jordan have been subject to non-payment of
wages, illegal immigration status when employers do not
obtain residence permits, retention of passports and other
documents, verbal abuse, and, less frequently, physical
(including sexual) abuse. From January 1998 to December 2003,
72 cases of sexual assault against FDWs were reported to the
Public Security Directorate (PSD or police).

F. n/a

G-I. The MoL has acted conscientiously to improve the
conditions of FDWs, and in late February 2004 the parliament
passed into full validity the provisional law described in
reftel. Trafficking is not considered to be a widespread
problem and there is no credible evidence of trafficking
unrelated to FDWs. However, GOJ entities -- including the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, PSD, MoL, and Ministry of
Justice -- have been cooperative in collecting and providing
information for this report. Post is not aware of any
government participation in trafficking, including by
individual officials, and the government does not condone it.
However, in practice the government would be limited by
budgetary constraints in its ability to fund investigative
and prosecutorial institutions which might focus on
trafficking, nor would it possess sufficient resources to aid

L. n/a




3. A. The government acknowledges that some FDWs live and
work in less than satisfactory conditions (its public and
private justification for measures taken last year), but has
no credible evidence of trafficking networks.

B, E, G-K. The Interior and Labor Ministries are most
directly involved in activities affecting trafficking. The
PSD, under the Interior Ministry, actively controls the
borders with both entry and exit controls, and the military
assists by monitoring the borders between ports of entry. The
PSD also investigates crimes including physical abuse and
immigration violations, and the Interior Ministry issues
residence permits to foreigners already present in the
country. As of last year, the Labor Ministry regulates the
recruiting and employment conditions of FDWs (see reftel).
The government has not formally assigned anti-trafficking
duties to a specific body, nor does it have a national action
plan, and it is limited financially in its ability to carry
out trafficking-related programs. The government does have
active public corruption task forces involving several law
enforcement and prosecutorial bodies.

C. UNIFEM,s ongoing national program for Jordan includes
plans to publicize the poor work and living conditions of
some FDWs and the government has been supportive of the
program. In addition, local newspapers and magazines whose
readership includes a broad distribution of current and
prospective employers of FDWs have reported on FDWs, living
and working conditions in recent months. However, given the
limited scope of the problem, there are no comprehensive
anti-trafficking information or education campaigns.

D. The King and the current cabinet have made the empowerment
of Jordanian women, politically and economically, a top
priority, and the Queen is a strong advocate for women's and
children's rights. The government has a number of programs
that could be defined as combating trafficking in women and
children, e.g. a Ministry of Social Development program to
rehabilitate street children and Ministry of Labor vocational
training programs for young rural women. However, we have no
evidence of the trafficking of Jordanians.

F. The government has created a steering committee that
monitors and evaluates the conditions of FDWs in Jordan.
Membership includes government agencies, UNIFEM, NGOs, and
three FDW source country embassies (see reftel). This
committee has an active and cooperative working relationship.
UNIFEM considers its program for migrant workers in Jordan,
including particularly GOJ participation and the GOJ-endorsed
standard contract, a model for the region. Trafficking is not
commonly discussed in civil society and is not a widespread




4. A. A 1926 law specifically bans trafficking in children.
The 1929 slavery nullification law makes it a crime to force
or entice a person to come to or depart Jordan to be traded,
purchased, or sold. Traffickers can also be prosecuted under
the penal code of 1953, which bans all forms of slavery.
Penal law 16 of 1960 criminalized extramarital intercourse
(including prostitution), providing for punishments ranging
from 5 years imprisonment to execution, depending on the age
of the victim and the relation of the accused to the victim.
Under Penal Code articles 333 and 334, physical harm that
causes a victim to miss work is punishable by imprisonment of
three months to three years and/or small fines, with
punishments of up to ten years for causing a permanent
disability or inducing an abortion.

B, C. The penalty for indecent assault, without force, is
punishable by a minimum of 5 years imprisonment if the victim
is less than 12 years of age (Penal Code art. 298), with
greater punishments for use of force (Penal Code articles
296-299). Inducing a woman to extramarital sexual relations
is punishable by a minimum of 3 months imprisonment (Penal
Code art. 304). Labor exploitation is subject to legal bans
on bonded labor and slavery as described above. The penalties
for rape range from 5 years imprisonment, if the victim is
over 15 years of age, to execution, if the victim is under 15
or in cases of incest.

D, F-H. The government prosecuted the former honorary consul
of Sri Lanka in Jordan, a Jordanian citizen, for trafficking
in babies. In 1995, the government uncovered a scheme in
which he induced Sri Lankan women in Jordan to give up their
(mostly) illegitimate newborn children, who were then sold to
(adopted by) foreign families. He was subsequently prosecuted
under the 1929 slavery nullification law and sentenced to 3
years hard labor (an increased sentence over the three
years, imprisonment spelled out in the law), as well as 5
years imprisonment for forgery. Due to his ill health and old
age, the sentence was later reduced to the three year term. A
Jordanian accomplice was found innocent of all charges and a
Sri Lankan accomplice was sentenced to one year imprisonment
after her charge was reduced to conspiracy to sell children.
Both of those found guilty served prison time, and the
prosecutor brought further motions before the Court of
Cassation (appeals) on this case as recently as October 2003.
The government is not aware of any other cases, cross-border
or otherwise, and does not provide specialized training in
trafficking. From 15 July 2003 to end January 2004, the MoL
received 28 labor-related complaints from FDWs, of which 25
were resolved administratively and 3 were referred to courts.

E. The FDWs brought to Jordan under fraudulent circumstances
usually deal with a recruiter in their home countries, as
well as an agent in Jordan once they arrive. These are
typically bound by loose, informal networks and are not
connected to crime groups. The new Jordanian requirements to
use a standard labor contract and licensed agents should
significantly reduce the ability of unscrupulous recruiters
in source countries to defraud their clients.

I, J. There are no known cases of nationals charged with
trafficking in other countries, and it is not clear whether
the GOJ would extradite any nationals who might be charged
with trafficking. While general corruption is a concern,
there is no evidence of government involvement in or
tolerance of trafficking on either a local or institutional

K. n/a

L. ILO Convention 182: ratified 20 April 2000

ILO Convention 29: ratified 6 June 1966 and Convention 105:
ratified on 31 March 1958

The Optional Protocol to the CRC on the sale of children,
child prostitution, and child pornography: signed 6 September

UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime: signed
26 November 2002; Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish
Trafficking in Persons not yet signed; Convention for the
Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation
of the Prostitution of Others: acceded 13 April 1976




5. A-F. The interagency Family Protection Department (FPD),
coordinated by the PSD, states that it offers the following
assistance to all victims of abuse, including FDWs,
regardless of citizenship or socio-economic status:
translation/interpretation services, interviews conducted by
a female police officer in a private room, medical exams
conducted by forensic doctors at FPD facilities as opposed to
public hospitals, provision of clothing and &secure resort8
until investigation is complete, consular notification, and
access to counseling. In practice, shelter and legal
assistance are also provided by the respective embassy and/or
friends. Immigration assistance, e.g. temporary relief from
deportation or waiving of overstay fines, may be provided on
an ad hoc basis, but all overstayers are subject to fines,
regardless of reason. Jordan is in the nascent stages of
developing shelter and other support services to women and
children victims of abuse, including Jordanian citizens. The
FPD coordinates closely with a small number of domestic NGOs
to help abuse victims access the limited services available.

Though there is a general ignorance of the plight of FDWs in
Jordan, cultural sensitivities and funding limitations,
rather than lack of political will, are the primary reasons
that greater victim support services have yet to be provided.

G. The government does not provide training on how to assist
victims of trafficking. However, the FPD has raised the
profile of abuse within Jordanian society and its personnel
are becoming increasingly adept at handling this crime,
particularly investigations and prosecutions.

H. n/a

I. UNIFEM has assisted with the creation of a local chapter
of Advocacy for Migrants, a Geneva-based organization
advocating for migrant workers in the Arab world. This NGO is
registered with the Interior Ministry, but has not yet begun
operations and is seeking funding to do s

6. Embassy point of contact on trafficking is political
officer James Fellows. Office phone number is 962-6-590-6597,
fax 962-6-592-0159, e-mail As of June
2004, political officer Keith Heffern will be the POC, same
phone numbers and e-mail

7. Time spent preparing this report (primarily basic
research): FS03 poloff 90 hours, FS02 poloff 3 hours, FS01
poloff 6 hours.