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Activists welcome decision on children of Jordanian women married to foreigners

By Rana Husseini - Mar 27,2017 - Last updated at Mar 27,2017

AMMAN — Activists on Sunday welcomed Parliament’s decision to limit the authority of issuing residency to children of Jordanian women married to foreigners to the Interior Minister. 

“This is an important decision that will ease the restrictions and suffering forced upon thousands of families in Jordan, where mothers are Jordanian but fathers have different citizenship,” said Rami Wakeel, one of the lead campaigners of “My Mother is Jordanian and her nationality is a right for me”.

During a joint parliamentary session, a majority of lawmakers voted in favour of giving the Interior Minister the authority to issue residency for children of Jordanian women married to foreigners, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported.

“This decision means that we only have to deal with one government entity and no longer have to visit other security agencies to obtain our yearly residency, as we did in the past”, Wakeel told The Jordan Times.

Wakeel added that he was hopeful that this decision would also ease obstacles in other areas, such as working and obtaining various forms of official documentation.

“Our obstacles are sometimes related to residency issues, and to the fact that government agencies are not willing to provide us with the necessary papers to lead our lives like any other Jordanian citizen,” Wakeel added.

Last week, over 150 men, women and children staged a sit-in demonstration in front of the Parliament, calling on the government to grant full citizenship rights to children of Jordanian women married to foreigners.

The protesters also called on the government to honour its previous pledges  and to ensure the proper application of the “privileges” the government granted to children of Jordanian women married to non-Jordanians in 2014, including residency permits, applying for driving licences and real-estate ownership, as well as availing of benefits in the educational, health, labour and investment sectors.

Protesters complained that government agencies are not recognising the official identification documents that were issued to children of Jordanian women married to non-Jordanians. 

Others complained about their inability to donate blood to their loved ones, to enrol in public universities, forcing them to enrol in expensive private universities, and highlighted the hurdles and restrictions they face when travelling abroad and reentering the country.

Most protesters said that the identification documents issued by the Civil Status and Passports Department (CSPD) were “useless” and “not acknowledged in many government institutions”.

The demonstrators have staged 75 sit-ins in various parts of the country since the late Nimeh Habashneh started the campaign on Facebook in 2009.  

In 2014, the government announced that it was granting the children certain “privileges”, provided that their mothers had been living in Jordan for a minimum period of five years, for at least 180 days per year, according to the CSPD.

Government officials have previously stated that there were 88,983 Jordanian women married to non-Jordanians, mostly Gazans, and that these families have 355,932 children registered with the CSPD.

Palestinians, except for Gazans, who became refugees after the creation of Israel on Palestinian land, and those who were living in the West Bank when it was occupied by Israel in 1967, have been given Jordanian citizenship.

If no changes are made on the part of the government agencies, “then we will demonstrate in front of the Prime Ministry next week, and, if nothing happens, then we will sit in front of the Royal Court”, Wakeel said.

Women’s rights activists have been demanding that Jordanian women be allowed to pass on their citizenship to their children and spouses for years, a right that only men enjoy.

 

Individuals and entities who oppose granting citizenship to family members of these women, particularly those with Palestinian husbands, say such a measure will only lead Israel to implement its “ultimate plan of creating a substitute homeland for Palestinians in Jordan”.

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