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France to send legal experts to help reform Jordan courts

[JURIST] French Justice Minister Michele Alliot-Marie [official profile, in French] and Jordan's King Abdullah II [official profile] met Sunday to discuss increasing cooperation [press release] between France and Jordan's judicial and legislative branches and strengthening the ties between the two countries. Alliot-Marie told reporters that France would send legal experts [AFP report] to Jordan to help strengthen its court system. Sunday's talks follow the protocol [Petra report] signed by France and Jordan last April to enhance the countries' legal cooperation. The protocol provides for the exchange of current legal and judicial releases and research highlighting the countries' judiciary, and underscores revisions of Jordan's current civil and criminal laws.

Jordan has employed a series of legal reforms to address the concerns of many human rights groups. Last year, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] urged Jordan to restore its rule of law [JURIST report] by ending extrajudicial detentions of crime victims, personal enemies, and persons freed by the courts. Per the 1954 Crime Prevention Law [DOS backgrounder], which is currently in effect, government officials have the power to order administrative detentions on mere suspicions of improper behavior rather than on the showing of evidence that a crime has been committed. HRW asserted that the formulation and application of Jordan's Crime Prevention Law violates international standards as well as Articles 7 and 8 of the Jordan Constitution [text], which states that "Personal freedom shall be guaranteed," and that "No person may be detained or imprisoned except in accordance with the provisions of the law." The HRW report alleges that Jordan officials frequently circumvent the judicial system under which potential defendants are afforded due process and also that the subjects of such extrajudicial detentions are often the victims of crimes rather than the perpetrators themselves.

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