“Walled in by Alienation: Working and Living Conditions of Migrant Workers in Jordan”

Amman – A local report recommends the Jordanian government to join the International Covenant on the Protection of Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, and to make migrant workers equal with Jordanian workers by ending the exception for the minimum wage. In addition, the report recommends activating the role and efficiency of the inspection system, increasing the number and qualifications of inspectors, and providing them with knowledge and modern technological tools.

In addition to that, in their annual report titled “Walled in by Alienation: Working and Living Conditions of Migrant Workers in Jordan,” Tamkeen Fields for Aid recommended activating the role of the Authority of Wages, creating a mechanism to decide on the issues of migrant workers, and for the Ministry of Labour to maintain detailed information about employers such as home and work address and cell phone number. Furthermore, to more accurately and clearly redefine the crime of human trafficking, while taking into account the legislative environment in Jordan that does not fit the definition of the protocol, in order to reduce the definition related difficulties in applying the law – along with many of the recommendations that will contribute to the reduction of violations against immigrants in Jordan.

In the details of the report, the center brings attention to the fact that the number of migrant workers in Jordan is close to 1,200,000 and that the number holding a work permit is 315,016.

The report adds that Jordan has taken substantial and concrete steps to protect migrant workers legislatively, even though some practices and gaps hinder these measures.

The report shows the migrant workers in particular are exposed to numerous violations because of their presence in a foreign country with limited social and economic support. Accordingly, it is important to implement a system that seeks to protect the rights of migrant workers through providing them social assistance and services. If methods of prevention and protection fail, it is important to prosecute those who violate the human rights of workers.

The report also discusses several topics such as: the international and local legal framework for migrant workers, their work conditions and environment, their numbers, nationalities, and distribution across sectors of work. Furthermore, one section of the report is set aside to talk about the victims, and suspected victims, of human trafficking in Jordan. Another segment will discuss the detention of migrant workers and alternatives to detention.

The report devotes space to talk about the administrative detention of migrant workers. The number of administratively detained migrant workers in correctional and rehabilitation centers or security centers reached to about 198,600 by 2015; the percentage of detained or arrested non-Jordanians was 4% of the total number.

Regarding administrative detention, the report said they are “a violation of the right to personal liberty, in light of general prosecutors’ continued application of the Crime Prevention Act without following the established legal procedures guaranteed by the Code of Criminal Procedure when making the decision to arrest someone.

As for the cost of reform and rehabilitation centers, the report details that it costs “up to about 92 million and 700 thousand dinars per year, or 750 dinars per month per guest. If other penalties were available, the cost would drop by 25% to reach 69 million and 600 thousand dinars.”

Moreover, “Despite the fact that Jordanian legislation (Article 100 of the amended Criminal Procedure Code) stipulates that a defendant should be forwarded to the Attorney General 24 hours after their arrest as the relevant judicial authority to conduct the investigation, police stations are still holding arrivals for longer than this period. In interviews of about 281 detained, individuals reported remaining in police detention centers for a period ranging from one day to 11 months.”

The report added that the number of migrant workers who have obtained work permits between the years 2013 and 2015 reached 925,623 workers, of which 718,880 were male and 206,743 female.

The report also noted that in the previously mentioned years the Ministry of Labor has more than once issued a correction of all workers’ status, including 218,783 workers of all nationalities, at a cost of nearly 62 million dinars.

The report also addressed the conditions of Syrian refugees in the labor market noting that they “are subject to Jordanian labor law except for regulations, instructions, and reports issued by the Ministry of Labor. The work of Syrian refugees is linked to Article (12) of the amended Labour Law No. 26 of 2010 which stipulates the following and implementation of the mechanisms and terms of recruiting foreign workers within the instructions issued by the Ministry of Labor, and fining those who violates these regulations an amount not less than 200 dinars and no more than 500 dinars, excluding the cost of work permits, the cost of which range from 60 to 825 dinars.

The report also discussed the common reasons for regular migrant workers becoming irregular. Among the most important of these reasons was employers not renewing work and/or residency permits and the applications of a system where foreign workers are prohibited from certain professions. For instance, an employer may be in need of a migrant worker for use in a closed profession. In this case, they employ the worker under the pretense of an open profession but instead use them in a closed one.