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"Knowledge from the region, for the region"
12 Jun

Access to justice for women and children the focus of WANA Forum 2014

12 June 2014 – Amman, Jordan: Government leaders, policy officials, legal analysts and religious representatives from seventeen countries came together to conceptualize and develop grassroots solutions to enable access to legal rights for women, children, refugees and migrant workers at the 6th West Asia – North Africa (WANA) Forum.

Closing the forum, His Royal Highness (HRH) Prince El Hassan bin Talal said we need to focus on enabling fundamental rights for the most marginalized sections of society. “We need to start listening to each other on common concerns such as water, education, and healthcare. These issues resonate with all of us not because we are Arabs or Christians or Muslims – but because we are humans.”

Participants discussed the discrimination faced by women due to misinterpretation of Shari’ah laws in the WANA region.  Nigerian legal expert and visiting lecturer at the Harvard Divinity School, Hauwa Ibrahim, provided insights about how women could find access to justice through Islamic law by leveraging local traditions. She gave insights on how groups like Boko Haram came into being in the absence of a strong and accountable local governance. Echoing her sentiments, HRH Prince Hassan bin Talal said, “Corruption is the antonym of good governance.”

The lack of legal rights for migrant workers was also highlighted as a major issue for the WANA region. The WANA region faces high unemployment rates - 22% for men and 40% for women.  A majority of workers are forced into the informal economy where they face unsafe working conditions, and are deprived of social security, minimum wage and other basic rights that many of us take for granted.

Linda Al Kalash, Director of Tamkeen for Legal Aid said in Jordan, migrant workers are a particularly vulnerable group. Employers in the region often withhold the passports of employees creating unsafe and exploitative conditions that have been termed as modern day slavery.

“It is very common to brag that Jordan is better than other countries in the region but we must recognise that there is a gap between the law and its implementation,” Ms Al-Kalash said.

Earlier this year, HRH Prince El Hassan bin Talal co-signed an urgent appeal with other world leaders to make access to justice for all part of the Sustainable Development Goals. This call to justice has subsequently been signed by over 300 organisations and over 500 individuals.

HRH said the Forum, that was focused on legal empowerment of the poor and most marginalized, was not about strengthening the police, the courts, or the judiciary.  “In many countries, the institutions of the state are far removed from the people,” HRH Prince El Hassan bin Talal said. “We should focus on empowering the most marginalized people so that they can set forth the agenda for new rights, new opportunities and new freedoms.” 

Notes to editors:

  • The 2014 WANA Forum runs from 11-12 June in Amman, Jordan and is being attended by leaders, academics, policy-makers and religious officials from all over the Arab world. The Forum is looking specifically at how governments can work together to enable access to justice for people that have no recourse to legal mechanisms for their most fundamental rights.
  • HRH Prince El Hassan bin Talal recently co-signed an urgent appeal to all UN member states along with former US secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, to make access to justice an integral part of the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals.

Media contacts:

Falha Brezat
Press Secretary to HRH Prince El Hassan bin Talal
Email: Falha.br@gmail.com

Julia O’Brien
WANA Forum Communication Advisor
Cell: +962 (0) 778 465 204
Email: jobrien@majliselhassan.org


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