As His Majesty King Abdullah Bin Al Hussein has asserted in various forums over the years, justice is the foundation of governance and the guarantor of the values of tolerance, affinity, integration and national unity.
In Jordan, political reforms have supported vast economic changes and they continue to be a necessary platform for the country's sustainable political, administrative and educational development. Without an accessible and affordable judicial system that protects the rights of all citizens equally, businesses cannot grow, investors cannot feel safe and private individuals have little incentive to create new enterprises, add value to the economy or pursue positive social change. One of the core functions of government is to facilitate the processes of the judicial system, developing its efficiency and empowering it to fully play its role.
The clarity of the King’s vision and strong political will drove a steady modernisation programme for the judiciary. A royal committee was formed in 2000 and a judicial reform and development strategy was prepared for 2004-2006, running parallel to the Social and Economic Transformation Programme. It focussed on training judges, enhancing the efficiency of the judiciary, reducing legal transaction costs for citizens and businesses, strengthening the autonomy of the court system, establishing modern information systems and ensuring transparency.
By the end of 2008, numerous laws had been reformed, a new system of inspections had been created to ensure that judges comply with the rules of practice and procedure and computerised systems had linked the Kingdom's 74 criminal courts and prosecution offices with the Ministry of Justice. Future years will see yet more progress, as an ambitious and unflinching programme of reform upgrades both the physical infrastructure of the court system and the organisational capacity of its members.
Perhaps the most significant testament to the success of Jordan's reforms in this area has been the renewed public confidence in the integrity, fairness and efficiency of the judicial system. According to a recent study by the Centre for Strategic Studies at the University of Jordan, 74 per cent of Jordanians have confidence in the judicial system and consider the efforts to improve it successful.
The country's experience in judicial reform has become a regional model of good governance. International organisations consider it a success story and agencies like the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development have worked to extend Jordan's experience of judicial reform to other Arab countries.