Jordan
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    Profile

    Jordan

    Capital

    Amman

    Gross domestic product (GDP)

    USD 44,502.90 million

    Income group

    Upper middle income

    Population

    10,101,694

    Area

    89,320 km²

    Geography type

    Coastal

    4.72

    Criminality score

    106th of 193 countries

    32nd of 46 countries in Asia

    12th of 14 countries in Western Asia

    Criminal market

    4.55

    Human trafficking

    6.50

    Human smuggling

    5.50

    Arms trafficking

    6.50

    Flora crimes

    3.50

    Fauna crimes

    3.50

    Non-renewable resource crimes

    1.50

    Heroin trade

    3.50

    Cocaine trade

    3.00

    Cannabis trade

    6.00

    Synthetic drug trade

    6.00

    Criminal actors

    4.88

    Mafia-style groups

    1.50

    Criminal networks

    7.00

    State-embedded actors

    6.50

    Foreign actors

    4.50

    5.92

    Resilience score

    39th of 193 countries

    5th of 46 countries in Asia

    2nd of 14 countries in Western Asia

    Political leadership and governance

    7.00

    Government transparency and accountability

    5.00

    International cooperation

    8.00

    National policies and laws

    6.50

    Judicial system and detention

    4.50

    Law enforcement

    7.00

    Territorial integrity

    6.00

    Anti-money laundering

    6.50

    Economic regulatory capacity

    4.00

    Victim and witness support

    4.50

    Prevention

    6.50

    Non-state actors

    5.50

    5.92 4.88 4.55 5.92 4.88 4.55

    5.92

    Resilience score

    39th of 193 countries

    5th of 46 countries in Asia

    2nd of 14 countries in Western Asia

    Political leadership and governance

    7.00

    Government transparency and accountability

    5.00

    International cooperation

    8.00

    National policies and laws

    6.50

    Judicial system and detention

    4.50

    Law enforcement

    7.00

    Territorial integrity

    6.00

    Anti-money laundering

    6.50

    Economic regulatory capacity

    4.00

    Victim and witness support

    4.50

    Prevention

    6.50

    Non-state actors

    5.50

    Analysis

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    People

    Jordan is a country of origin, a waypoint and a destination country for trafficked adults and children. Victims are mainly sourced from Syria, Egypt, Southern and South-eastern Asia, and East Africa. Individuals migrate to Jordan from surrounding countries looking for work and become vulnerable to exploitation, with trafficked men often employed in forced labour and female refugees forced into marriage and sexual exploitation. In refugee camps, children are at risk of being recruited for illicit activities related to drugs, forced labour and forced marriage. The criminal actors running the groups are often foreigners, who bribe low-level law enforcement officials to facilitate their activities.

    With regard to the transnational human smuggling market, Jordan is mainly an origin and destination country. Smugglers use social media websites to identify those wishing to migrate to Europe; they then obtain false identification documents and ship them through transit countries into Europe. The Kafala (sponsorship) system used to monitor migrant labourers in Jordan has been criticized for creating more demand for smuggling. The deterioration of the security situation in Syria led to the proliferation of human smuggling networks across the border from Jordan, which were effectively monopolized by tribal groups.

    Trade

    Arms trafficking in Jordan is significant and has increased in recent years, primarily due to the crisis in Syria. The two-way arms trafficking over the border is often run by Bedouin tribes, some of whom have links with terrorist organizations and regime forces in Lebanese Hezbollah. In particular, weapons are sold in a number of ‘arms bazaars’, particularly in Ma’an, Sahab and in the Jordan valley, where anyone who can afford it can purchase a firearm. Arms possession is normalized within Jordan, where domestic demand for weapons accounts for 90% of the total demand, while the remaining arms travel on to Palestinian territories. The government has made some progress in clamping down on weapons smuggling across the border, aided by stability inside the West Bank and the collapse of ISIS.

    Environment

    Flora crimes are mainly concentrated in the illegal logging market, with the forests of Jerash and Ajloun especially targeted by illegal loggers. This is a particular concern as Jordan only has 1% forest cover, and wildfires are often used to destroy forest to make logging easier. The flora crimes market is mainly driven by the needs and demands of the local population, as residents with low incomes resort to illegal logging to cover their needs for heating. The conflicts in places such as Syria and the Gaza Strip have significantly impacted natural habitats and created a market for wildlife smuggling in which Jordan acts primarily as a transit country. However, Jordan also has its own problem of illegal poaching and hunting that has led to more species being added to the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species. Finally, although in past years ISIS engaged in illegal oil smuggling from Iraq through Jordan and Syria, since the fall of their last territorial holdings this illicit activity has decreased significantly.

    Drugs

    Cannabis is the most widely consumed and available drug in Jordan, most commonly originating from Afghanistan and Lebanon. All distribution networks are supervised on the Syrian side by Hezbollah, which relies on Syrian and Jordanian merchants to coordinate the trafficking operations. Jordan also has an important synthetic drug market, with an increasing amount of Captagon reaching its youth population from production sites in Syria and Lebanon. Another cheap synthetic drug, named Joker, is synthesized in Jordan and is similarly widespread; it is also smuggled in high quantities into the Gulf countries. While cocaine is not widely available or used in Jordan, the trafficking of cocaine from Syria into Jordan has increased considerably in recent years, which has been reflected in the increasing number of arrests. Jordan only has a small domestic market for heroin, and is generally used as a transit country, moving heroin into the Gulf countries and Europe.

    Criminal Actors

    While there is no evidence of mafia-style groups operating in Jordan, there are criminal networks largely based on historical tribal connections operating throughout the border provinces. Bedouin tribes on the Syrian border are involved in the smuggling of arms and drugs and have links to various parties including ISIS and Hezbollah. Although the networks operate all over the country, they are mostly concentrated in the vicinity of refugee camps, hotels and universities. Corruption is also a significant problem in Jordan, particularly within the security forces that operate along the borders. These state-embedded networks are often extensions of clan and tribal structures, especially prevalent inside the security services. Senior members of the networks attempt to buy allegiances from communities to allow their criminal operations to run smoothly with money sourced from Hezbollah. Interaction with foreign criminal groups is high, with ties often forged in efforts to cross international borders. Palestinian, Iraqi and Syrian actors have been identified as being involved in various criminal markets in Jordan.

    Leadership and governance

    Compared to neighbouring countries, Jordan is politically stable. It has numerous government agencies that link Jordanian law enforcement agencies to their international counterparts and play a major role in protecting the country from the expansion of international organized crime. The government has established various law enforcement departments to try and control the borders and prevent the smuggling of drugs. However, the number of terrorists moving from Jordan into Syria is becoming a concern, and the government has moved to prevent them returning to Jordan. Jordan’s government makes attempts to be accountable and transparent, but these are often sporadic and inconsistent. For example, in adherence to the UNCAC, Jordan publishes information about criminal cases it refers to the judiciary, but there are often inconsistencies in the information given to the public, especially in high-profile cases. Furthermore, despite top government officials being investigated and sometimes charged with corruption, Jordan's penal code is not implemented effectively and corrupt officials often operate with impunity. Jordanian authorities also increased the arrests of protesters and anti-corruption activists in 2019, detaining dozens and charging them on the basis of vague provisions under the law to limit their freedom of expression.

    Jordan is heavily reliant on foreign assistance and therefore has a good record in international cooperation. It is a signatory to the Statute of the International Criminal Court, and INTERPOL’s intervention is undertaken through the National Central Bureau, which is embedded within regional programmes. Jordan has for decades been keen to comply with extradition processes as part of bilateral or regional treaties. While there is an intention to pass national laws to prevent organized crime, most fail to be implemented effectively. The anti-human trafficking legislation created new units and departments to manage this crime; however, authorities have fallen short in its implementation. Notably, forms of punishment for sex trafficking are not compatible with penalties for other offences, and there are no provisions for victims’ rights, while laws around firearms control are also insubstantial and fail to produce results. Jordan has legislated against most other areas of organized crime but is struggling to enforce these laws effectively.

    Criminal justice and security

    Civilian courts in Jordan are generally perceived as transparent and procedurally sound. Nevertheless, a significant case backlog exists because of inefficiency in the sector. Furthermore, court orders are often ignored by authorities. The structure of the justice system reflects good democratic principles, with the separation of powers protected in the constitution and the independence of the justice system guaranteed; however, there remain allegations of nepotism and special-interest influence. The reality of the prison system is very mixed, with allegations of widespread torture and human rights violations, standing alongside a strong emphasis on rehabilitation, with inmates receiving education and training to be able to contribute to society outside prison. Jordan has fulfilled its international commitments regarding the creation of many law enforcement units to tackle organized crime, but there is room for improvement as far as their effectiveness is concerned. The geography of Jordan’s borders, with vast areas of desert, makes its territorial integrity difficult to maintain. Although the breakdown in security in Syria has increased the traffic of people and illegal goods crossing in and out of Jordan, the government appears to take the matter seriously and maintains reasonable success rates in thwarting cross-border smuggling, in large part due to a strong security service.

    Economic and financial environment

    The Jordanian government is the best performer in the region as far as anti-money laundering policy goes, and has strong and clear money-laundering regulations. The Know-Your-Customer programme collects data on financial customers and has proved effective at uncovering money laundering schemes. However, the evolving black market coming out of Syria has been an effective route for terrorist groups to launder their money as it remains outside the government’s control. While the ease of doing business has improved over recent years in Jordan, it remains burdened with difficulties. Due to high taxes and low wages, many people choose to work in the informal market, which has now swelled to account for around a quarter of the economy, which in turn raises the pressure on firms working in the formal economy. Jordan has implemented strict measures on banking institutions, and its cooperation with international and national bodies to protect the economy has made it a safe investment environment where activities are kept free of any criminal activity.

    Civil society and social protection

    Jordan’s victim and witness protection schemes are insufficiently enforced to be truly effective. The systems are under-resourced and victims of domestic servitude are too often arrested, imprisoned and deported for deeds perpetrated directly because of being trafficked. Nevertheless, the government does fund drug treatment centres and works alongside NGOs to provide shelters for victims of organized crime, to whom confidentiality is afforded when giving testimony.

    In terms of prevention, the Public Security Directorate created a programme that is widely deployed in Jordanian communities in cooperation with local councils to educate people and develop a sense of security and responsibility within communities. The authorities maintained prevention efforts, such as raising awareness about trafficking crimes by circulating anti-trafficking brochures and handing them to all migrant workers who are coming into the country. The authorities make major efforts to prevent forced marriages among the Syrian refugees, provide some education and administer work permits to Syrian refugees to regularize employment and protect them from labour exploitation. The government has pledged to conduct campaigns to arrest anyone carrying unlicensed firearms, and with regard to drugs, the anti-narcotics department runs public-awareness campaigns in collaboration with universities, schools and the media.

    The Jordanian government has reason to welcome civil society organizations, as it relies on financial support and assistance from them in various areas, including humanitarian assistance. Civil society organizations operate in many of the larger cities in Jordan alongside international development organizations focused on combating organized crime. However, Jordan’s media environment is poor, and the government works hard to limit media freedom, with the media commission issuing gag orders and the government conducting close surveillance on many journalists. Many journalists are imprisoned under vague anti-terrorism laws, many websites are banned, and the highly contentious press and publications law was updated in 2012 to include news websites as well.

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    The criminal markets score is represented by the pyramid base size and the criminal actors score is represented by the pyramid height, on a scale ranging from 1 to 10. The resilience score is represented by the panel height, which can be identified by the side of the panel.

    This report was funded in part by a grant from the United States Department of State.

    ENACT is funded by the European Union and implemented by the Institute for Security Studies and INTERPOL, in affiliation with the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime.

    The opinions, findings and conclusions stated herein are those of the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime and do not necessarily reflect those of the United States Department of State.