1997 Several political parties, associations and leading figures boycott parliamentary elections. The Muslim Brotherhood party along with eight out of 19 parties, the professional associations, the Jordanian Women's Union and 80 politically and socially significant people decide not to run for or vote in the elections. Along with advocating for a constitutional reform with a separation of powers, they also call to cancel the one-man, one-vote law and replace it with a more modern law that guarantees free and fair elections, where citizens are able to choose the deputies who truly represent them. Dialogue between the government and the boycotting parties proves fruitless, and elections are carried out but with a significant political boycott.
Jan. 26, 1998 The Supreme Court suspends the May 1997 amendment to the 1993 Press Law, and clears the way for 13 newspapers to resume publishing. The court decides the amendments are unconstitutional because they are enforced without the approval of the Jordanian Parliament. Article 19 of the 1993 Press Law continues to support the demands of non-governmental organizations to be involved in drafting a new press law, which guarantees fundamental rights to freedom of expression and access to information.
Feb. 7, 1999 Shortly after his father dies, Prince Abdullah ibn-al Hussein is sworn in as king of Jordan.
October 2001 King Abdullah sanctions the Ali Abul Ragheb-led government's temporary press restrictions immediately after they are quietly introduced without public or parliamentary debate. The amendments give government authorities increasing powers to jail journalists for up to six months, fine them for as much as US$7,000, and shut down publications that print "false or libelous information that can undermine national unity or the country's reputation," "aggravate basic social norms," "sow the seeds of hatred," or "harm the honor or reputation of individuals," among several other restrictions. The Penal Code article in the new amendment has been extended to criminalize "insulting the dignity of the king" by specifying a jail term of up to three years, along with a fine as much as 5,000 Jordanian dinars (US$7,100) for anyone insulting the King, attributing false statements to the King in print, in cartoons, or on the Internet.
March 3, 2002 The state security court bans the March 4 edition of a weekly publication, Al-Majd, unless it agrees to remove two articles about alleged government corruption, as they do not comply with the Penal Code. One of the articles describes a large-scale financial scandal while the other criticizes former internal security chief Samih El-Bateekhi. Critics decry what they view as the court acting arbitrarily by censoring Al-Majd and not granting it a hearing, trial or any other form of litigation.
In January, the editor of Al-Majd, Fahd al-Rimawi, is detained for two days and charged with allegedly publishing false news in a number of Al-Majd articles that criticize the Ali Aboul Ragheb-led government.
May 16, 2002 Toujan Faisal, Jordan's first female lawmaker, is convicted of slandering the government. She is charged with harming the government's reputation in an open letter accusing the prime minister of financial misconduct, bribery and corruption. She is sentenced to 18 months in prison.
Faisal is the most well-known dissident of the government to be sent to jail since King Abdullah's accession to the throne. She has become a leading advocate of free speech, has supported an end to political detention and vehemently attacks violations against human rights.
June 2002 Jordanian Prime Minister, Ali Abul Ragheb, heads a meeting of a legal committee responsible for reviewing a draft law on illegal acquisition of funds. A new version of the draft proposes that parliamentarians be included in a wider category of public officials who have to disclose their assets to a special department. The minister of Justice and minister of State for Legal Affairs, Faris Nabulis, drafts the legislation.
August 2002 Jordan claims a program on Qatar-based Al-Jazeera TV insulted its royal family. Jordan shuts down Al-Jazeera's office in Amman and summons its ambassador in Qatar to return to Jordan.
June 17, 2003 Jordanians vote for a new Parliament. Allies of King Abdullah win more than 50 percent of the seats in the parliamentary elections. Unlike many Arab legislatures, Jordan's Parliament can block bills and dismiss a prime minister and his Cabinet.
April 2004 Eight Islamic militants are sentenced to death for killing a senior U.S. diplomat, Laurence, Foley in 2002. Foley was gunned down outside of his home in Amman, and his murder was the first assassination of a Western diplomat in Jordan in 2002.
November 2004 Investigations carried out by the British Broadcast Corporation (BBC) find that many businesses were willing to give Saddam Hussein's government huge sums of money in return for Oil for Food contracts while Iraq was under the sanctions regime. Jordanian financial institutions alone processed US$100 million of fraudulent contracts, according to the probe carried out by BBC.
The revenue from the Oil for Food program, a system administered by the United Nations allowing Iraq to export oil despite the sanctions, went into accounts audited by the U.N. to spend on food and medicines to improve living conditions in Iraq. Saddam managed to embezzle as much US$21 billion in this financial scandal. The embezzled money was paid by businesses to Iraqi officials in the form of bribes and kickbacks in exchange for the oil contracts. The Jordanian businesses, trading with Iraq, routinely paid surcharges of 10 percent of the value of the deal. According to BBC, the money was allegedly transferred to the Jordanian branches of the Iraqi National Bank. Most of the deals, however, involved Russian and Middle Eastern firms.
The United Nations has blamed the United States and the United Kingdom for turning a blind eye on this financial scandal, especially because they were heavily supervising the region with U.S. and British military jets regularly patrolling the skies of Northern Iraq. Their silence with respect to the illegal smuggling of oil into Jordan and Turkey is explained by their political allegiance and favorable diplomatic relationship with them.
April 10, 2005 Security authorities delay publication of the April 10 edition of Al-Wihda, a weekly paper, until an article written by journalist Muwaffaq Mahadin is removed. The article criticizes how Prime Minister Adnan Badran's government was formed, claiming its elections were undemocratic. Al-Wihda is allowed to publish only after Mahadin's article is excluded from the edition.
Feb. 4, 2006 A Jordanian tabloid editor, Jihad Momani, is arrested after his newspaper, Shihan, publishes controversial cartoon drawings of the Prophet Mohammed.
June 8, 2006 Abu Qudama, brother-in-law of a terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, is interviewed by Al-Jazeera in al-Zarqa, north of Amman, when security services abruptly enter the premises, halt the interview and arrest Qudama. Al Jazeera reporter Yasser Abu Hilala, his crew along with a CBS freelance correspondent and cameraman, waiting to interview Qudama, are briefly detained, and their equipment is confiscated.
June 11, 2006 Four lawmakers are arrested because they visited the slain terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's family. They are charged with "instigating sectarian strike" and "fueling national discord."
April 2007 The Jordanian government seizes a taped Al-Jazeera interview with former Prince Hassan bin Talal. Shortly after the interview, Jordanian Intelligence authorities stop the producer of Al-Jazeera at Amman's Queen Alia Airport where they confiscate the videotape along with pictures taken of Prince Hassan during the interview.
In the interview conducted by Ghassan Benjeddou, Al-Jazeera's bureau chief in Beirut, the prince spoke critically of Saudi Arabia and American policies in the Middle East. Hassan asserted Prince Bandar bin Sultan, was officially financing Sunni militants to tackle the Iran-backed Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah, was critical of Arab governments cooperating with the United States in targeting Iran and criticized Arab leaders for stimulating friction between Sunnis and Shiites.
April 30, 2007 Security agents prevent printing of the weekly Al-Majd's April 30 edition because of a front page story about a "secret plan" to overthrow the Hamas-led Palestinian government. The article discloses what it claims is a 16-page secret plan, devised by the United States and unnamed Arab allies, that will enable Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to oust the rival Hamas-led Palestinian government from power. Security officials ban the entire edition because the article is not removed.
July 2007 The BBC reports, "First local elections since 1999. The main opposition party, the Islamist Action Front, withdraws after accusing the government of vote-rigging."
September 2007 Jordan Transparency Forum (JTF) President Bassem Sakkijha describes Jordan's drop in ranking to 53rd from 40th on Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) as "biased." However, TI says the decline is "statistically insignificant" and attributes the drop to the incorporation of new countries and "inclusion of more surveys that were not in last year's index." Despite TI's explanation, JTF announces in protest that it is no longer a representative of TI.
October 2007 The application for Jordan's first woman MP, Tujan Faisal, to stand in November parliamentary polls is rejected because she was sentenced in 2002 by the state security court to 18 months in prison for slandering Jordan's image and accusing officials of corruption. Following appeals by Circassians, whose unofficial population is estimated to be between 20,000 and 80,000 of six million people, King Abdullah II pardoned Faisal after she served 100 days.
November 2007 Parliamentary elections strengthen the position of tribal leaders and other pro-government candidates as Jordan's Islamist opposition, the Islamic Action Front (IAF), loses most of its seats in parliamentary polls. The IAF claims that vote-rigging and electoral fraud were involved in the elections. IAF candidates win only six of the 22 seats they contested, down from 17 held in the last parliament . Political moderate Nader Dahabi is appointed prime minister.
December 2007 Jordan's Court of Cassation upholds the prison sentence of Ahmad Oweidi al-Abbadi, the head of a small right-wing party called the Jordanian National Movement, who was convicted in October of harming the government's reputation after he e-mailed U.S. Sen. Harry Reid about the "exponential rise in corruption levels" among top Jordanian officials. Al-Abbadi was sentenced to two years in prison and fined 30 dinars (US$42).
January 2008 Representatives of 17 Arab countries gather in Jordan for a three-day conference on how to boost anticorruption efforts. During the conference the representatives debate reform laws and discuss strategies to fight corruption and how to implement the U.N. convention against corruption.
February 2008 A Jordanian parliament committee clears former minister Abdelrazzak Tbeishat of allegations of embezzlement in a 2002 equipment purchase. The committee says in its report that it found no evidence Tbeishat was involved in fraud or corruption. In 2006, parliament passed a law creating an independent commission tasked with investigating allegations of corruption against current and former officials.
The Center for Defending the Freedom of Journalists (CDFJ) issues a statement to the Jordanian government, calling for wider support of freedom of the press and its right of access to information. The statement comes after a news report posted on the Amman news website, which included a photo of a circular signed by Prime Minister Nader Dahabi warning public employees against handing over copies of documents to the media related to alleged administrative and financial corruption. In its statement, CDFJ says the circular contradicts Jordanian laws Article 15 of the Constitution and Article 7 of the Higher Media Council bylaw, which ensures freedom of the press and emphasizes journalists' right of access to public information and international conventions because Dahabi's instructions obstruct the media from accessing information necessary to keep the public informed.
June 2008 Jordan takes part in the Asia anticorruption conference under the theme: "Corruption-Free Asia: A Long Term Vision." Prominent organizations such as the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime, the U.N. Commission on International Trade Law, Transparency International, the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, and the International Chamber of Commerce attend the conference where strategies for enhancing integrity and transparency globally are discussed.
The Global Organization of Parliamentarians Against Corruption and Supreme Audit Institutions, made up of anticorruption agencies and transparency societies from the region, along with major firms and other government agencies are represented at the conference, organized by the Qatar's National Committee for Integrity and Transparency.
The Anti-Corruption Commission reports that it has referred 21 cases on to the courts after its first round of review.
July 2008 The Regional Conference on Preventing Corruption and Strengthening Cooperation between Anti-Corruption Bodies in the Region begins in Amman. The conference, which includes 19 Arab anticorruption organizations, inaugurates a network to unite mechanisms and increase coordination in the region.
A Higher Media Council survey reveals that almost half of the journalists interviewed had a hard time accessing information relevant to their reporting.
November 2008 Human rights activist, Ahmad Abbadi, is released from prison after serving a two-year term for posting a letter online accusing government officials of corruption and violating citizens' human rights.