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King orders setting up judicial reform panel

Chaired by Zeid Rifai, committee will also work to enhance rule of law

By JT - Oct 19,2016 - Last updated at Oct 19,2016

AMMAN — His Majesty King Abdullah on Tuesday entrusted former prime minister Zeid Rifai with chairing a committee to reform the judiciary and enroot the rule of law.

The decision to set up the panel came days after His Majesty issued his sixth discussion paper on the rule of law as the key ingredient of a civil state. 

According to a Royal Court statement, the Royal Committee for Developing the Judiciary and Enhancing the Rule of Law comprises as members 10 figures with experience in the field. 

His Majesty sent Rifai a letter, in which the King highlighted the significance of improving the situation of the judicial apparatus and its performance. 

"Since assuming my constitutional duties, the judiciary has been a top priority and at the centre of our policies. We have always maintained that the judiciary plays a key role in protecting rights, serving justice and defending freedoms," the Monarch highlighted. 

The King added: "As one of the three branches of government in Jordan, the judiciary is entrusted with cementing the rule of law and the principles of justice, equality, and integrity as well as safeguarding citizens’ trust in state authorities and institutions."

A country’s ability to progress and prosper depends on the independence of its judiciary, its efficiency and ability to function within an integrated framework along other state institutions seeking to strengthen the rule of law, King Abdullah said.

“It is our firm belief that all citizens are equal before the law. They resort to laws, which apply to all without discrimination or nepotism,” His Majesty said, adding that this guarantees that the values of justice, integrity and active citizenship are enshrined in our society.  

Throughout Jordan’s history, the independence of the judiciary has been well established and preserved, the King said, noting that it is enshrined in the 1952 Constitution as a founding principle, the King emphasised. 

“The constitutional amendments of 2011 and 2016 further consolidated judicial independence. Accordingly, Jordan has always been widely reputed for its competent judiciary,” he added.

The Monarch also highlighted that the current stage requires doubling existing efforts and diligent work to enhance the capacities of the judiciary and enable it to develop continuously, function efficiently and embody the highest levels of integrity and justice. 

In this regard, His Majesty said that it is crucial to build on previous efforts, namely, the progress made by the Royal Committee for Judicial Development established in 2000 and the ensuing strategies formulated to advance the court system.

Today, there is an urgent national priority to draft a comprehensive strategy for judicial development and to advance judicial capacities. “I have addressed this priority in my recent sixth discussion paper,” the King added. 

“Accordingly, I entrust you with chairing a Royal Committee for Developing the Judiciary and Enhancing the Rule of Law, tasked with devising a comprehensive strategy to address challenges and continue efforts of development and modernisation to elevate the performance of the judiciary,” King Abdullah said.

The Monarch added that this mandate encompasses providing judges with proper capacities, enhancing their capabilities, endorsing standards of meritocracy and competency in judges’ appointments, transfers and promotions, as well as improving their overall conditions. 

The goal should be to provide a modern, institutional environment for the judicial authority and supporting apparatus, develop work processes in a qualitative manner, enhance procedures and laws to improve litigation and the enforcement of rulings across all involved bodies, as well as empower and advance judicial oversight, inspection and training, while benefiting from the best international practices, the King noted.

The committee is made up of the following members: president of the Judicial Council, minister of justice, Salaheddin Bashir, Mohammad Sharif Ali Zu’bi, Ayman Yahya Odeh, head of the Senate’s Legal Committee, head of the Lower House’s Legal Committee; president of the Jordan Bar Association, Qasem Momani, Mohammad Ghazou, Mahasen Mohammad Jaghoub, Naseem Farhat Nasrawi, Rajai Kamal Dajani and Saad Mofleh Lozi (Rapporteur). 

“I look forward to receiving your recommendations within the first quarter of 2017, which should include proposed policies, action plans and suggested legislation,” the King said.


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