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On August 27, Jordanian authorities suspended the director of the country’s largest prison after we notified them that hundreds of inmates had injured themselves to protest rampant beatings. Shortly after Human Rights Watch visited the Swaqa Correction and Rehabilitation Center, which houses more than 2,000 men, prison staff beat all or nearly all of the inmates. When we learned of the beatings, we returned to investigate. In an attempt to signal their distress, more than 350 prisoners slashed their bodies, a common form of protest in Jordanian prisons because the official complaints process does not function. We immediately contacted the Ministry of the Interior and the police, and the prison director under whose watch the beatings took place was swiftly removed.

We visited the facility in the course of a larger investigation into allegations of torture and mistreatment in Jordan’s prisons, touring five of the country’s ten prisons. We found evidence of beatings in every prison we visited, and identified other serious problems including overcrowding and inadequate health care. Jordanian authorities granted us unprecedented access to the prisons after we exposed the use of arbitrary detention and torture in the General Intelligence Department’s detention facility last year, which operates separately from the country’s regular prison system. As we continue our work to improve conditions for detainees in Jordan, we are urging authorities to cease abusing prisoners, allow local activists regular access to all places of detention, institute effective processes for prisoners to report abuses, and hold those responsible judicially accountable.

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