The Constitution that was promulgated in 1952 and amended in 1974, 1976, and 1984 remained in force in 1989. It declares Jordan a hereditary monarchy with a parliamentary form of government and defines the people as "the source of all powers." The people are officially stated as being part of "the Arab nation." Islam is the official religion of the state and Arabic the official language. In nearly forty years of experience with the Constitution, adherence to the fundamental law of the land has varied in spirit as well as in practice from time to time, depending upon domestic and external circumstances.
Articles 5 through 23 of the Constitution stipulate the rights and duties of citizens and guarantee a long list of personal freedoms. Citizens are assured freedom from compulsory labor or forced loans, and no one may be discriminated against for reasons of race, religion, or language. Arrest, imprisonment, exile, forced residence, and the expropriation of property without due process of law are forbidden. Freedom of worship, opinion, and the press and the right of peaceful assembly are ensured within the limits of the law. Censorship is allowed in time of martial law or when a state of national emergency exists. The right of petition is guaranteed, and citizens are free to form political parties, trade unions, and associations--provided their objectives are lawful. Political refugees may not be extradited. For grades one through nine, education is compulsory and free in public schools. Every citizen is eligible for appointment to public posts, subject only to the candidate's merit and qualification. The Constitution also outlines various principles of labor legislation and directs the government to promote work and to protect labor.
Martial law was declared in 1967 and remained in force in 1989. The emergency regulations under martial law effectively abridged certain constitutionally guaranteed freedoms. These regulations permitted the martial law authorities and the secret police-- popularly referred to as the Mukhabarat rather than by its formal name of Dairat al Mukhabarat or General Intelligence Department (GID)--to arrest persons suspected of security offenses and to detain them without trial or access to legal counsel for indefinite periods. The emergency regulations also authorized the government to censor the press and other publications, banned political parties, and restricted the rights of citizens to assemble for political meetings and peaceful demonstrations.
The powers and functions of the state organs are elaborated in articles 41 through 110. The Constitution includes sections on finance, enforcement of laws, interpretation of the Constitution, and emergency powers and constitutional amendments. An amendment requires the affirmative vote of two-thirds of the members of each legislative house, deliberating separately. When an amendment bill is twice rejected by either house, however, the bill must be deliberated in a joint session of the legislature; in this instance, a two-thirds vote is required for adoption. An amendment bill takes effect only on royal consent. In a move to ensure dynastic stability, the Constitution forbids any amendment concerning the rights of the king and his heirs during a period of regency.
The five amendments to the Constitution that have been approved since 1952 all pertain to the National Assembly. Two amendments were adopted in November 1974. The first permitted the king to dissolve the Senate and to dismiss any individual senator for behavior unbecoming of the office. The second amendment permitted the king to postpone elections for the House of Representatives for one year. In February 1976, a third amendment permitted the king to postpone parliamentary elections indefinitely. The two amendments adopted in 1984 authorized the government to hold parliamentary elections in any part of the country where it was feasible, thus, only in the East Bank. Until late 1988, when Jordan renounced claims to political sovereignty over the West Bank, the House of Representatives was empowered to select deputies to fill vacant seats from the West Bank.
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