Human Rights Watch slams Jordan for prison torture

October 9th, 2008 - 2:21 am ICT by IANS  

Amman, Oct 9 (DPA) The Human Rights Watch Wednesday accused the Jordanian authorities of practicing “routine and widespread torture” at its prisons and urged the government to amend its mechanisms for investigating, disciplining and prosecuting abusers.The charges came in a 95-page report entitled “Torture and Impunity in Jordan’s Prisons: Reforms Fail to Tackle Widespread Abuse” that was released at a press conference.

“Torture in Jordan’s prison systems is widespread event two years after King Abdullah called for reforms to stop it once and for all,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, HRW Middle East director.

“The mechanisms for preventing torture by holding torturers accountable are simply not working,” she added.

The report said that the findings were based on “credible allegations of ill-treatment, often amounting to torture” from 66 out of 110 prisoners interviewed at random in 2007 and 2008 in seven of Jordan’s 10 jails.

“Human Rights Watch’s evidence suggests that five prison directors personally participated in torturing detainees,” it added.

“Jordan has made some attempts to address the problem of torture in prisons, but the bottom line is that the measures have been insufficient, and torture persists as a consequence,” Whitson said.

The Jordanian Public Security Department (PSD) rejected the report, saying it “lacked precision and included several contradictions and erroneous conclusions”.

“The HRW based its report on individual allegations that lacked legal support, fairness and objectivity,” PSD spokesman Major Mohammad Khatib was quoted as saying by the official Petra news agency.

“The report was based on interviews with 110 inmates who represent only two per thousand of prisoners who frequent the correction centres annually and who were chosen on selective basis,” Khatib said.

“Torture and mistreatment of prisoners are classified as crimes under the Jordanian law and those who commit such acts should be punished,” he added.

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