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Egyptian guest worker wins lawsuit against public institutions for ‘arbitrary detention’

By Laila Azzeh - Nov 02,2014 - Last updated at Nov 02,2014

AMMAN — For the first time in Jordan, a guest worker has won a case against several state institutions for allegedly taking “arbitrary” measures against him, according to a local advocacy group.

In a judicial precedent, Amman Magistrates Court Judge Haifa Kayyali recently ruled in favour of Egyptian Hamadeen Najdi, who filed a lawsuit against the interior minister, the Public Security Department director, the director of Jweideh Correctional and Rehabilitation Centre and the Amman governor for putting him in administrative detention for 70 days, then detaining him for 13 months until deportation procedures were over.

Najdi was arrested by Labour Ministry inspectors for not renewing his work permit, which the employer — who is responsible for permit renewal — terminated after disputes with him, according to Tamkeen for Legal Aid and Support, which handled the labourer’s case.

The worker was then detained at the south Amman police station, although the Criminal Court Law does not allow detaining any suspect for more than 24 hours before referring him/her to court.

Moreover, the Amman governor issued a decision to deport the Egyptian and keep him in detention until deportation measures were completed, resulting in detaining him for 13 months, according to Tamkeen.

The labourer was only released after going on a hunger strike.

In her ruling, Kayyali said the measures taken against Najdi had “arbitrarily” deprived him of his freedom and caused him psychological and financial losses, particularly as he came to work in a new country accompanied by his wife and young daughter.

“The court forced the defendants to pay JD2,000 to the worker, including lawyers’ fees,” Tamkeen Director Linda Kalash told The Jordan Times on Sunday.

“The amount is nominal compared to the deprivation of freedom, but the ruling is important in and of itself,” Kalash said.

“The case was first filed in 2011 and then dismissed, but the court decided to look into it again,” she said, noting that this is not the first time a worker has filed a lawsuit against the government, but “perhaps Najdi’s persistence to take his right after feeling humiliated” contributed to reaching such an “unprecedented” verdict.

“This verdict is the first of its kind in the region, not just Jordan,” Kalash said.

The court’s decision to compensate the worker is also very significant in the Kingdom’s history because it is in line with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

The judge ruled based on Article 9 of the
ICCPR, which stipulates that “No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention. No one shall be deprived of his liberty except on such grounds and in accordance with such procedure as are established by law,” in addition to other provisions safeguarding human rights during detention.

Kayyali also underlined that the measures taken against the labourer were “harsh and inhumane” according to Article 16 of the UN Convention Against Torture, which the Kingdom endorsed in 2006.

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