Jordans mechanisms to hold accountable those responsible for torture and ill-treatment or violations of prisoners rights are insufficient either to provide redress to victims of abuse or to deter perpetrators. The justice system does not effectively hold officials accountable for torture or ill-treatment, creating a climate of impunity. The lack of transparency and responsiveness to prisoner complaints also shows that the mechanism to address grievances is equally broken. Indeed, officials have repeatedly dismissed allegations by individuals or human rights organizations regarding violations of prisoner rights without starting a serious and transparent investigation.
The Convention Against Torture stipulates that states have an obligation to proceed to a prompt and impartial investigation, wherever there is reasonable ground to believe that an act of torture has been committed.125 Reasonable allegations of torture not just incontrovertible material evidence, are thus sufficient to launch an investigation. Furthermore, every person subjected to torture has the right to complain to, and to have his case promptly and impartially examined by, [the] competent authorities. Steps shall be taken to ensure that the complainant and witnesses are protected against all ill-treatment or intimidation as a consequence of his complaint or any evidence given.126
Human Rights Watch heard accounts of over 60 prisoners alleging torture or ill-treatment in 2007.127 In the cases we investigated, guards appear to have abused prisoners with near total impunity. This is in part because there is no independent body to hold them accountable. The Public Security Directorate (PSD), which is the agency that employs all prison staff, including guards and prison directors, is also the authority that investigates and prosecutes prison abuses by such staff. Police prosecutors under the PSDs Legal Affairs department are responsible for bringing charges against their fellow officers in the prison administration. The PSD also convenes a special court, the Police Court, to which it appoints the judges; the Police Court tries all crimes involving PSD officials.128 The PSD director can personally adjudicate criminal cases of misdemeanors carrying a prison sentence of less than three years.129 Ordinary courts do not have jurisdiction of crimes committed by PSD officials. As can be expected, this internal prosecution mechanism has failed adequately to investigate and prosecute its own staff.
Deficient Complaints Mechanism
Prisoners have four ways to complain about mistreatment: formally to the director of the prison, often via the guards in their wards; to the PSD Legal Affairs prosecutors now present full-time in seven prisons; to the PSDs Grievances and Human Rights Office during its regular visits, or by posting a complaint to its complaints box; or informally to external visitors, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the National Center for Human Rights (NCHR), or their lawyers or visiting family members.
The lack of confidentiality in the formal complaints process, the lack of independence of the prosecutors, who appear in the same uniform as prison guards and report to the same authority, as well as fear of retaliation from prison guards, appears to dissuade prisoners from filing complaints of torture. In addition, prosecutors do not vigorously investigate the cases of abuse they are informed about by obtaining credible witness testimonies, but rely too heavily on incontrovertible forensic reports proving torture to pursue cases. Furthermore, the ability of prison directors to decide which cases of abuse to refer to prosecution and to settle cases internally by disciplining abusive guards also results in few cases of formal prosecution with criminal sanction for abusers.
The Grievances and Human Rights Office in 2007 received 710 complaints, of which 95 per cent were administrative complaints.130 Officials investigated 19 complaints of a potentially criminal nature, referred six to the Police Court for prosecution and decided not to refer five cases to court for prosecution for lack of evidence (see below for the outcome of prosecutions). Unit commanders disciplined officials in eight cases of misdemeanors or administrative transgressions without recourse to the courts. Between January and April 13, 2008, prison-based police prosecutors and Grievances Office prosecutors investigated only one case of alleged abuse.131 By August 2008, that number had risen to 24 cases.132
The official 2008 PSD guide instructs prison directors, all of whom make regular visits to the wards, about the steps they must take when presented with a complaint. Formalizing the complaints procedure is a welcome step, but the guide underscores the lack of independence of the formal complaints mechanism: while the officer receiving the complaint must record each prisoner complaint in a register and give prisoners a copy of the filed complaint without checking the content, prisoners are supposed to present their complaints to the officer in charge of the prison wing, who also supervises the registry.133 This officer, however, may well be the abuser.
In January 2008 the PSD assigned police prosecutors under its Legal Affairs department to seven prisons to more effectively investigate claims of crimes committed by prison personnel.134 This is a significant step toward providing more localized and timely monitoring of prison abuses. Ideally, such a presence would send a strong deterrent signal to the prison guards. However, it is not clear that these prosecutors are always fulfilling their mandate to actively investigate any incidents of abuse.135
For example, on a visit to Birain prison on April 15, 2008, the newly-assigned prosecutor there told Human Rights Watch that he had not had a single case of abuse against a prison employee.136 Three detainees in the same prison, however, separately recounted to Human Rights Watch an incident of torture in early March, in which several guards had taken them and two other prisoners at night to a courtyard out of sight of the prison wings and beat them for about two hours, before suspending them cuffed to a metal bar for one hour because one prisoner caught trying to smuggle drugs into the prison had named them as co-conspirators.137 The prison director was aware of the incident, but neither he nor the prosecutor had investigated the alleged abuse by the guards.138
The number of investigations has increased since April. The director of the prison service, Sharif al-Umari, told Human Rights Watch in July 2008 that prison-based prosecutors had investigated 24 incidents of abuse in 2008, at least one in each of the seven prisons.139
The PSDs Grievances and Human Rights officials work closely with prison-based police prosecutors. They conduct their own prison visits every two weeks and empty a sealed mailbox for complaints located in an accessible area, like the dining hall.140
Only Grievances officials are supposed to have the key to the complaints box. However, prisoners in Muwaqqar and Swaqa told Human Rights Watch that the prison staff have emptied the boxes and read the complaints with their own key.141 The PSD denied that this had occurred.142
Informal complaints to outside visitors benefit from greater confidentiality, but do not generally lead to judicial investigations. The National Center for Human Rights (NCHR) can only refer cases it receives during visits or via telephone to the Grievances officials for judicial investigation or can decide to report publicly, but anonymously, on incidents of abuse.143
In the aftermath of the mass beatings of prisoners and riots in August 2007, the PSD on February 3, 2008 allowed the NCHR to open an office inside Swaqa prison, staffed every Monday, to receive complaints from prisoners. This new NCHR presence complemented the new prison prosecutors at the prison and visits from the Grievances Office.144 However, PSD officials denied the NCHRs request to visit Swaqa prison during disturbances there on April 15, 2008 and reneged on its promise to extend NCHR offices to other prisons, too.145
One concern with the current complaints mechanism is its lack of confidentiality and the failure to protect complainants and witnesses. Prisoners told Human Rights Watch that they had not told police prosecutors from the Grievances Office all of what they told us.146 Prisoners said they feared retaliation for telling the truth because the investigating prosecutors wear the same uniform and are administratively responsible to the same body as the prison official accused of misbehaving.147
Prisoner Hazim told Human Rights Watch during a visit that there is a 90 per cent chance that the prison guards will come in here after you leave, interrogate us about your questions, and punish us for talking to you.148 In all prison wings Human Rights Watch visited, prisoners were frank about informers among prisoners who relayed information to the administration in exchange for favors from the guards.149 One prisoner in Juwaida said I cant tell everything that goes on here, in a whispered comment repeated in other prisons.150 Another prisoner in Swaqa, Raid, said that when the [guards] came in to beat us, they taunted us, saying, You think the ICRC is better than us, then, do you? While they were beating us, they said Spit on the ICRC.151
Another reason for few complaints and the low number of investigations besides fear of retaliation may be the failure by the Grievances officials to protect complainants or witnesses. Prisoners told Human Rights Watch that prison guards emptied the complaints box and punished the prisoner for complaining.152
In one incident of abusing witnesses instead of protecting them, guards and special forces beat witnesses and failed to remove threatening guards from contact with them.
Ziyad, a former detainee described the investigation into the Muwaqqar prison fire in April 2008: The prosecutor came and asked us only why we cut ourselves up. Then they took us to the solitary confinement cells, and beat us on the way there. They put two of us to one cell.153 Fawzi, another former prisoner questioned in the same incident said a civilian prosecutor came the second day after the incident to take my statement, but the clerk who wrote it down was a prison guard who looked at me intimidatingly.154 Fawzi also described beatings three days after the prison riot and fire:
International guidelines on investigating torture require that officials implicated in torture be removed from positions of control or power over witnesses:
Problems with the complaints mechanism have produced fewer complaints than the incidence of torture and ill-treatment in Jordans prisons would warrant. Additional problems occur at the stages of investigation and prosecution. Overall, the number of prosecutions for physical or mental pain prison guards inflict on their charges is low compared to the widespread and routine use by guards of violence against inmates Human Rights Watchs research in 2007 indicated.
One reason for fewer prosecutions is the provision of the Public Security Law allowing unit commanders such as prison directors of the militarily organized PSD to discipline subordinates for misdemeanors without trial.157
Our research indicates that police prosecutors proceed to trial only where incontrovertible forensic medical reports indicating injuries consistent with physical torture exists. The offices director told Human Rights Watch that in several cases of alleged abuse, he could not proceed with an investigation because the medical report did not specify that injuries were sustained as a result of ill-treatment.158
Hospital doctors may not be specialized in detecting the effects of torture, including psychological torture, and the prisoner remains cuffed and in the presence of a prison guard in hospital, making it difficult for him to ask the doctor to examine signs of possible torture. All prisons have video monitoring of public areas, corridors, open spaces, entry and exit areas, and the space around the solitary confinement cells, accessible on screens from a separate control room and the prison directors office. However, no routine recordings are made and preserved for some time to serve as potential evidence in cases of abuse, although the Ministry of Interior planned to do so in the future.159
Grievances officials appear to make little effort to independently research conditions of abuse, for example by frequently and repeatedly visiting the wards to interview inmates as victims and witnesses in private and individually, speaking to prison doctors, or operating an anonymous complaints mechanism that prisoners trust. In the cases known to Human Rights Watch, prosecutors from the Grievances Office relied on a formal complaint before opening an investigation, and did not routinely research prison conditions.160 Their biweekly prison visits are too infrequent to secure timely information to stop or document torture as it happens.
In 2007, officials investigated 19 complaints potentially indicating a crime out of 710 received, but referred only six to trial while internally settling five cases. Prison directors appear to receive more complaints of abuse but, without objection from police prosecutors, mete out mild disciplinary rebukes to abusive guards under their authority as unit commanders.
The directors of Muwaqqar, Qafqafa, and Swaqa prisons together told Human Rights Watch of 20 complaints of abuse they had received in the first seven and a half months of 2007 alone. They settled these cases internally, although the prosecutors were informed.161
Of the 24 cases the Grievances Office and prison-based police prosecutors investigated until August 2008, information on the outcome was only available for four cases that occurred in Salt prison. The Grievances Office had referred three cases to Legal Affairs prosecutors to pursue the prosecution at trial, and in one case had stopped the charges, the director of the Grievances Office told Human Rights Watch.162
In some cases, Grievances officials failed to prosecute suspected guards, despite ample evidence of abuse. For example, the Office did not prosecute guards for the torture of all or nearly all Tanzimat prisoners in Swaqa and Juwaida of June and July 2007. These incidents did not feature among the reported 19 cases the Grievances Office investigated in 2007. When the Grievances Office visited Swaqa on August 27 in the wake of a separate riot there on August 22, its staff could have recorded allegations of abuse, and what some prisoners said were marks on their bodies from the torture they endured in June and July. Yet there appears to have been no investigation into these earlier incidents. The PSD did investigate and prosecute the August 2007 torture of Swaqa prisoners, but the results were disappointing (see below).
In April 2008, the Grievances Office and other PSD prosecutors conducted a lengthy investigation into the riot and prison fire resulting in three inmate deaths at Muwaqqar prison, but quietly concluded that no official had done anything wrong.163 Human Rights Watchs research into the Muwaqqar riot and fire in April 2008 showed that beatings and ill-treatment were the underlying reason for the riot on April 15, 2008 (See Appendix 3). The PSD in July 2008 strongly disagreed with our findings and we therefore carried out further research with eyewitnesses, who largely confirmed our findings.
The PSD disagreed that Firas al-Utti and Hazim Abu Ziyad had been tortured in the days prior to their deaths during the fire. New eyewitnesses came forward to say that Amir al-Qutaish, the prison guard alleged to have abused them, took Firas out of his room on April 13 and cuffed him to the holding pen for a few hours before sending him to the solitary confinement cells.164 Mundhir, Wadi, and Jamal, all confirmed earlier accounts of guards beating inmates as they exited their burned out room, and one guard shooting one prisoner , Muhammad al-Tabbasha, with a rubber bullet. Wadi said, We went into a large area, outside the buildings, but inside the prison walls and stayed there for four hours. Al-Tabbasha lay there like dead without medical assistance, surrounded by special forces in balaclavas with electric stun devices.165 These former prisoners also shed further light on why three prisoners burned to death in their room.166
These former prisoners also reported problems with the PSD investigation. Mundhir said that the prison director intimidated me before the release, telling me to affirm that Firas al-Utti [a prisoner who died in the fire], not the guards, beat me causing marks on my body. He told another prisoner in my presence to lie to investigators about which room he was in.167 Guards beat prisoners who had cut themselves up and put them into solitary confinement cells, two prisoners to a cell. They isolated the rest in an unused wing of the prison.168
The Police Court is not independent and averse to public scrutiny. Its verdicts reveal lenient sentences for torturing prison officials.
The PSD director appoints qualified police officers as its judges and prosecutors who try fellow officers. Jordans constitution and Public Security Law allows, but does not mandate, the establishment of this special court with jurisdiction over members of the Public Security Directorate for any crime, whether committed on or off duty.169
The PSD points out that the Police Court adheres to the highest standards of justice, and its former head told Human Rights Watch that no one interfered in his work in the two years of his judgeship there.170 Nevertheless, the leadership of the PSD could not convincingly answer why such a special court was necessary in the first place. The current head of the police court, Col. Muhammad al-Zubi, replied that it existed because it was prescribed by law.171
The court, which generally holds its trials openly, does not invite scrutiny. When Human Rights Watch visited the Police Court to obtain a copy of the verdict in the Zaidan case, court officers declined the request and told us to speak to the PSDs information office.172 In a subsequent visit coordinated with the PSD, the chief of the Police Court, Muhammad al-Zubi, provided us with six verdicts of the six cases of alleged prison abuse concluded in 2007. However, only three were related to prison abuse, one from 2004, and the two 2007 cases of the mass beatings at Swaqa on August 22, 2007 and the beating to death of Firas Zaidan at Aqaba prison on May 9, 2007, and al-Zubi requested Human Rights Watch not mention the names of the convicted officers, which he had blanked out.173 A court that is so ill-disposed to public disclosure of its work can hardly serve the cause of public justice by acting as a deterrent against crime.
The Jordanian media has not covered proceedings at the court in contrast to more extensive coverage of the State Security Court, a military dominated special court set up to try suspects accused of crimes against national security.174
As described earlier, the August 2007 Swaqa case involved the prison director and a group of prison guards beating dozens of inmates before subjecting inmates to the forced shaving of their heads and beards.175 Following its investigation into the incident, the prosecution charged the prison director and 12 other prison guards, including one Preventive Security officer, with exercising unlawful authority resulting in harm, according to Article 37.8. of the Public Security Law for having treated inmates in a manner not in accordance with instructions issued by the PSD.176 The court did not charge the director with a crime under Jordans penal code, such as assault.
The evidence in the case consisted of forensic medical reports of injured inmates, statements of the accused and of prisoners who were witnesses, as well as a report by the National Center for Human Rights. The prison director personally participated in the beatings; he was found to have used an electric stun device, which is not among the PSDs authorized weapons.177 He confessed to having beaten prisoners, ordered their heads and beards shaved, and put some prisoners into solitary confinement. The remaining 12 officers confessed to the same things, but claimed they acted on orders of the director. The court accepted the evidence that the director had, in the words of one witness cited in the verdict, gathered around 70 inmates and put them in the corridors and, together with a group of prison officials, beat them because they were the chiefs of the prison. However, it found that the director had issued these orders with good intention and with the motive of controlling the inmates, and sentenced him to a fine of JOD120, or roughly US$180.178
The court did not convict the other officials, accepting that they had followed orders and thus were not personally liable. While the court noted that Article 61.2. of Jordans penal code does not absolve a person of criminal responsibility for following an unlawful order, it argued that the nature of the military system and the proper performance of ones work constitutes an excuse for the guilty when considering the extent of the legality of the order by the prison director.179
This verdict reveals a great deal about the prison system: first, that prison officials may not recognize that beating prisoners is illegal and followed the order believing it to be legal; second, that the PSDs instructions prohibiting beatings either had not reached their intended targets or were being ignored; third, that for prison officials obedience to ones superiors is clearly more important than any perceived risks in committing a crime by carrying out the orders; and fourth, that there is no appropriate mechanism to protect officials who refuse to carry out unlawful orders, which the court could have cited had it existed. In its ruling, the court legitimized crimes committed by prison officials when they were following orders.
In another case, the prosecution and trial of five persons involved in the beating to death of inmate Firas Zaidan at Aqaba prison in May 2007 was more thorough, but exhibits different problems. The prosecution did not fully investigate all guards involved, failed to protect witnesses, and the judges issued lenient sentences.
The court convicted two guards of beating Zaidan to death, but found a third guard innocent of these charges because of conflicting testimony of witnesses with long criminal records and never charged a fourth guard with intimidating witnesses. In a September 17, 2007 memorandum, Human Rights Watch conveyed to the prosecution the results of our interviews with eyewitnesses to the events, who clearly implicated the third and fourth guards as having participated in the deadly beatings and intimidating witnesses, respectively.180The court sentenced two guards to two and a half years in prison with hard labor for beatings resulting in death, and the fourth guard to two months in prison for neglect in carrying out duties.181
The prosecution only upgraded charges of neglect of duties, acting against orders, and abuse of power, to beatings resulting in death, following Human Rights Watchs consultation with leading psychiatrists in the United States, and interventions by the US embassy in Amman (Zaidan was engaged to a US citizen and his immediate family members are US citizens)and the Royal Palace.
Prosecutors based their initial charges on an early autopsy report that identified the cause of death as an extremely high dosage of Clomipramine, a chemical substance used in psychiatric medications, in Zaidans blood sample. Outside intervention resulted in a further autopsy finding Clomipramine levels within the therapeutic norm, and thus only a contributing cause of death.182
In contrast to the verdict in the Swaqa case, the court in the Aqaba case found that the prison director had committed neglect in carrying out duties, in violation Article 37.6. of the Public Security Law for ordering Zaidan into solitary confinement without assessing his health. The director, who did not participate in the beatings, received a JOD120 (US$180) fine.183 PSD director Maj.Gen. Mazin al-Qadi told Human Rights Watch he had personally appealed the sentence to the civilian Court of Appeals.184
An earlier case from 2004 again shows the leniency of verdicts handed down to guards guilty of murder. In September 2005, the Police Court found 10 prison officials guilty of beating resulting in death of Abdullah al-Mashaqba, an inmate at Juwaida prison, in January 2004. The court sentenced them to five years in prison with hard labor, but immediately reduced by half the sentence because the prison guards are in the prime of their youth, and to provide them with an opportunity to change their behavior in the future.185
Jordans successive governments have been among the most open to local and international human rights investigations in the region, but quickly dismiss as unfounded human rights criticism.186 Jordanian officials increasingly have also recognized the need for speedy media responses to incidents such as prison riots.187 For its transparency and willingness to engage on the issue of torture in Jordans prisons, the government is to be commended.
Since 2007, however, the government has allowed markedly fewer prison visits by local human rights organizations. In 2006, the Arab Organization for Human Rights and the Public Liberties Committee of the Engineers Association had been able to carry out multiple visits to ordinary prisons.188
Jordans openness toward independent human rights scrutiny contrasts with its reserved, even dismissive, attitude toward the findings of such organizations. Officials disparage human rights organizations, dismiss their findings, while their own investigations remain non-transparent internal affairs with unsatisfactory results.
The PSDs public announcements following prison unrest have provided essential facts to the public, but at the same time have sometimes misrepresented the underlying reasons for the protests. The PSD publicly responded to prison riots in 2006 and 2007, announced the start of an investigation, but then did not inform the public about the proceedings or the results of the investigation.189 The families of prisoners at times turned to human rights organizations for information.190
In April 2008, the PSD spokesperson described the Muwaqqar riots as protests against the new segregation of convicted prisoners from those awaiting trial, when in fact separate investigations by the National Center for Human Rights and Human Rights Watch found that the overriding reason for the protests was ill-treatment. The head of the prison service, Sharif al-Umari, in an interview with al-Ghadd newspaper, criticized the NCHR report, saying organizations
Despite announcements in April and early May 2008 that the investigation into the Muwaqqar riots would conclude imminently, no results had been made public by late July.192 One person familiar with the inquiries said they had concluded by absolving all officials of wrongdoing and referring nine inmates to the regular courts on various charges related to the riots.193
In another instance, the government ignored Human Rights Watchs private account to the government about a riot at Swaqa prison that our researchers witnessed, choosing instead to misrepresent the events to the media. During our visit on August 26, 2007, we witnessed prisoners suffering from apparently self-inflicted injuries. We also recorded the accounts of 22 prisoners who described to us earlier mass beatings of prisoners on August 22, the day following our first visit. We immediately informed the PSD, the Ministry of Interior, and the National Center for Human Rights of both incidentsthe mass beatings on August 21, and the self-inflicted injuries on August 26, clarifying that those injuries appeared to be a sign of protest against torture the prisoners had endured four days earlier but that prison officials had not investigated. Nevertheless, according to identical reporting in three major Jordanian daily newspapers, the government spokesperson the next day continued to claim that the Swaqa prisoners had beaten themselves up so that they appeared to carry marks of being subjected to torture.194
In addition to misrepresenting underlying reasons for prison riots to the public, officials roundly dismiss as unreliable prisoner accounts of torture.195 However, court documents in two instances show that witnesses separately interviewed by prosecutors and by Human Rights Watch gave similar accounts of torture.For example, on the occasion of Minister of Interior Eid al-Fayezs visit to open Muwaqqar prison in April 2007, al-Rai newspaper quoted him as stressing the importance of striving for accuracy in the reports of international organizations, which seek their information from untrustworthy sources.196 Almost one year later, during another prison visit, al-Fayez called on international organizations to derive their information from trusted sources and not to rely on falsified sources.197
While such dismissals may be expected from government officials, Jordans parliamentarians and media are equally defensive of the security services. Aside from a few local human rights organizations, the PSD faces little scrutiny of its treatment of detainees.198
125 CAT, art.12.
126 CAT, art.13.
127 Of the 66 cases of allegations of abuse, three came from detainees in Birain in April 2008.
128 Public Security Law No 38 (1965), art. 85.
129 Public Security Law No 38 (1965), art. 81.c.
130 Human Rights Watch interview with Mahir al-Shishani, director, Grievances and Human Rights Office, PSD, Amman, April 13, 2008.
131 Human Rights Watch interview with Hani al-Majali, director, Swaqa prison, August 21, 2007. In 2006, the Grievances and Human Rights office received 56 complaints of beatings, nine of which concluded with a suspended investigation, three cases were decided not to be referred to court, four cases were settled within the PSD, and one case was referred to the Police Court, while investigations in 39 cases were ongoing. Luqman Iskandar, Has the Prison Administration Benefited from the Recommendations of the National Center for Human Rights?, Al-Arab al-Yawm, September 1, 2007, http://www.alarabalyawm.net/pages.php?news_id=41238&select=%C3%A1%C3%A3%C3%98%C3%87%C3%A1%C3%88 (accessed May 28, 2008). A representative of a human rights organization in Jordan who provides individual legal services to prisoners said that numbers of complaints of torture had declined in recent years. Human Rights Watch interview with human rights lawyer, Amman, July 31, 2008.
132 Human Rights Watch interview with Mahir Shishani, director, Grievances and Human Rights Office, PSD, Amman, July 31, 2008.
133 Sad al-Limun and Khalid al-Majali, Working Guide for Directors of Correction and Rehabilitation Centers, Public Security Directorate, 2008, p.29.
134 The seven prisons are: Balqa (Salt), Muwaqqar, Qafqafa, Juwaida, Swaqa, Birain, and Juwaida.
135 The UN Committee Against Torture found that, to effectively prevent torture, States should establish impartial mechanisms for inspecting and visiting places of detention and confinement, and [make available] to detainees and persons at risk of torture and ill-treatment judicial and other remedies that will allow them to have their complaints promptly and impartially examined. UN Committee Against Torture, General Comment No. 2, Implementation of Article 2 by States Parties, U.N. Doc. CAT/C/GC/2 (2008), para. 13.
136 He said that he instead spent his time helping the detainees speed up their court dates. Human Rights Watch interview with Zaid (last name was not given), PSD prosecutor, Birain Correction and Reform Center, April 15, 2008.
137 Human Rights Watch interview with prisoners at Birain, April 15, 2008.
138 Human Rights Watch interview with director of Birain prison, April 15, 2008.
139 Human Rights Watch interview with Sharif al-Umari, director, prison service, Amman, July 31, 2008.
140 In April 2008, an official said the boxes are emptied every two weeks. Human Rights Watch interview with Mahir al-Shishani, director, Grievances and Human Rights Office, April 13, 2008. In August 2007, prison officials at Muwaqqar said the box was emptied every week. Human Rights Watch interview with Rakat Mahmud al-Hallalat, director, Muwaqqar prison, August 19, 2007. Since Tanzimat prisoners do not share the dining hall, however, it is unclear how they can present complaints other than through their guards.
141 Human Rights Watch interview with prisoner Dawud, Muwaqqar, August 19, 2007 and with a prisoner Hasan, Swaqa, August 21, 2007.
142 Human Rights Watch interview with Major General Mazin al-Qadi director, PSD, April 13, 2008.
143 Since a change in the law governing the center in 2006, the NCHR has the right to visit Correction and Rehabilitation Centers according to the established foundations. Law No 51 of 2006 on the National Center for Human Rights, Official Gazette (No. 4787), October 16, 2006, art.10.a.
144 A Grievances Office prosecutor would accompany NCHR staff when they visited the prison, but the centers rights monitors could meet prisoners in private without the presence of officials. Human Rights Watch interview with Nisreen Zureikat, supervisor of the prisons unit, National Center for Human Rights, Amman, April 9, 2008.
145 Human Rights Watch interview with Maj.Gen. Mazin al-Qadi, April 13, 2008. The NCHR reported on the denial of the visit. Report on the Events of Muwaqqar and Swaqa Prisons, National Center for Human Rights, Amman, April 20, 2008. The PSD maintained this was to allow the situation to quiet down. Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Mahir Shishani, head, Grievances and Human Rights Office, Amman, April 22, 2008. NCHR officials had not publicized the PSD reneging on its promise. Human Rights Watch interview with Nisreen Zuraikat, supervisor of prisons unit, NCHR, Amman, July 31, 2008. The Human Rights Office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was not informed about these developments. Human Rights Watch interview with Ibrahim Awawdeh, director, Human Rights Office, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Amman, August 5, 2008.
146 Human Rights Watch telephone interviews with former Jordanian prisoners Bilal, Amjad, Abduh, Amman area, May 2 5, 2008. The NCHR also described to Human Rights Watch the problem of prisoners withdrawing their accounts made to the center when formally questioned by police prosecutors. Human Rights Watch interview with Nisreen Zuraikat, supervisor of prisons unit, NCHR, Amman, April 10, 2008.
147 Human Rights Watch telephone interview with former prisoner Abduh, Amman area, May 5, 2008.
148 Human Rights Watch interview with prisoners Hazim and Saddam, Muwaqqar, August 19, 2007.
149 The informers were generally different from the bosses of the prison wing. The bosses at times also discouraged frank recounting prisoner-on-prisoner or guard-on-prisoner violence.
150 Human Rights Watch interview with prisoner Numan, Juwaida, October 22, 2007.
151 Human Rights Watch interview with prisoner Raid, Swaqa, August 26, 2007.
152 Human Rights Watch interview with prisoners Hazim and Saddam in Muwaqqar, August 19, 2007 and with prisoner Dawud, Swaqa, August 21, 2007.
153 Human Rights Watch interview with former prisoner Ziyad at Muwaqqar, Rusaifa, August 4, 2008.
154 Human Rights Watch interview with former prisoner Fawzi at Muwaqqar, Rusaifa, August 4, 2008.
155 Human Rights Watch interview with former prisoner Fawzi at Muwaqqar, Rusaifa, August 4, 2008.
156 Manual on the Effective Investigation and Documentation of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (Istanbul Protocol), August 9, 1999., p.19.
157 It is not always clear how the PSD decides which incidents to refer for prosecution at the Police Court and which to leave in the hands of prison directors. One the one hand, the Police Court has issued verdicts for misdemeanors, such as violations of the Public Security Law, while on the other hand, Grievances Office prosecutors in 2007 were involved in investigations that led to disciplinary measures.
158 Human Rights Watch interview with Mahir Shishani, director, Grievances and Human Rights Office, Amman, April 14, 2008.
159 One control room operator told Human Rights Watch We monitor the prison 24 hours. It is my job to observe, and, when there is an irregular occurrence, to record it, but I dont make routine recordings.159 Officials cited privacy concerns prohibiting filming inside wards and cells, but could not explain why they did not use the cameras for routine recordings, kept for a specific amount of time before being destroyed. Human Rights Watch interview with control room supervisor, Swaqa, August 26, 2007 and with Jordanian prison director, Washington, D.C., May 8, 2008, and Human Rights Watch interview with Mukhaimer Abu Jammous, secretary-general, Ministry of Interior, Amman, October 25, 2007.
160 The National Center for Human Rights reported that it had noticed a tangible reduction and decline in the numbers of complaints and accusations of subjection to beating and ill-treatment during the last quarter of this year 2007 following a trend since it began reporting on prison conditions in 2004. National Center for Human Rights, Fifth Periodic Report on Conditions of Rehabilitation and Reform Centers and Places of Temporary Detention in the Kingdom for the Year 2007, Amman, December 2007, p.20.
161 The director of one prison alone, Muwaqqar, reported that between January and August 2007, there had been six complaints of abuse reported to the public prosecutor, resulting in two staff being suspended. Two of these cases involved the use of excessive force, prosecutors did not refer them to the police court only because the forensic report from the second case did not indicate signs of torture. Human Rights Watch interview with Rakat Mahmud al-Hallalat, director, Muwaqqar prison, August 19, 2007.
In Qafqafa prison, between January and August 2007, there had been four complaints against guards for abusing inmates. In two cases, the prison directors internal investigation found the guards not guilty; in the third case, he internally disciplined a guard he found guilty of abusing a prisoner. The fourth case remained under investigation by the Grievances Office. Human Rights Watch interview with Mahmud Ashran, director, Qafqafa prison, August 25, 2007.
In Swaqa, there had been 10 cases of alleged abuse against prisoners between January and August 2007. The director again investigated and settled most incidents internally. He said he fired one officer for abusing a prisoner, detained another officer for one week for abuse caught on camera, and docked another guards pay for two weeks for assaulting a prisoner, although the prisoner did not file a complaint and an earlier internal investigation had found the guard not guilty. Human Rights Watch interview with Hani al-Majali, director, Swaqa prison, August 21, 2007.
162 Human Rights Watch interview with Mahir Shishani, director, Grievances and Human Rights Office, Public Security Department, Amman, July 31, 2008.
163 Human Rights Watch interview with Mahir Shishani, director, Grievances and Human Rights Office, Public Security Department, Amman, July 31, 2008.
164 When Firas returned the next morning, he did not speak about what happened, but went to sleep in his room. Human Rights Watch interview with former prisoners Mundhir, Wadi, and Jamal, Rusaifa, August 4, 2008. Former prisoner Wadi said that he did not see or hear of Firas being beaten, while Jamal said he knew Firas had been beaten. Wadi said that Amir Qutaish beat him severely in the weeks preceding the fire, too. Human Rights Watch interview with former prisoner Wadi, Rusaifa, August 4, 2008. Jamal said Qutaish and others beat him, too, including shortly before the fire. Human Rights Watch interview with former prisoner Jamal, Rusaifa, August 4, 2008.
165 Human Rights Watch interview with former prisoner Wadi, Rusaifa, August 4, 2008.
166 As the riot spread and prisoners were shouting and cutting themselves with sharp objects, special forces entered the prison and went from room to room, beating prisoners, they said. To prevent them entering, prisoners barricaded the door of their room with steel beds and set a foam mattress alight. Guards then pushed the burning mattress into the room with their truncheons, and stood by while the room started burning, with the civil defense departments fire fighters behind them, unable to get to the room. Prisoners fled to a courtyard outside through an open door except for three prisoners, who were trapped. One escaped prisoner, Firas, went back into the room to rescue a friend, but could not get out. Muhammad al-Tabbasha, one of the four now inside, managed to get out. Breaking the windows caused the fire to ignite even more, accounting for what earlier witnesses had said were two fires. Human Rights Watch interview with former prisoners Mundhir, Wadi, Jamal and Ghassan, Rusaifa, August 4, 2008.
167 Human Rights Watch interview with former prisoner Mundhir, Rusaifa, August 4, 2008.
168 Human Rights Watch interview with former prisoners Mundhir, Wadi, Jamal and Ghassan, Rusaifa, August 4, 2008. The PSD also queried whether prisoners had been transported to other prisons. Four new eyewitnesses confirmed that prisoners were taken to other prisons, but they placed these events at between four and seven days after the prison fire, not the following day. Human Rights Watch interview with former prisoners Mundhir, Wadi, Jamal and Ghassan, Rusaifa, August 4, 2008.
169 The Constitution of The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, January 1, 1952, arts 99, 102, and 110, and, Law of Public Security, art. 85.1. The Police Court also tries PSD officials for traffic violations committed off duty. PSD prosecutors do not have jurisdiction to investigate crimes committed by prisoners inside prison, such as rape or assault.
170 Human Rights Watch meeting with Isa al-Rababa, director, Juwaida prison, and former head of the police court, Washington, D.C., May 8, 2008.
171 Human Rights Watch interview with Muhammad al-Zubi, head, Police Court, Amman, April 13, 2008. In fact, Article 85 of the PSD law allows the PSD director to establish such a court, but it does not make its establishment mandatory.
172 Human Rights Watch visit to the Police Court, Amman, April 13, 2008.
173 Human Rights Watch interview with Muhammad al-Zubi, head, Police Court, Amman, April 14, 2008.
174 A search of the archives of four major Jordanian dailies, al-Rai, al-Dustur, al-Ghadd, al-Arab al-Yawm, revealed only occasional mention of the Police Court, and no mention of the verdicts in the Zaidan and Aqaba cases.
175 Prisoners at Swaqa told Human Rights Watch that all or nearly all of the around 2,000 prisoners were beaten on August 22, 2007. Human Rights Watch saw about 100 prisoners, all of whom had their heads and beards shaved. The court verdict found that the director and prison guards beat around 70 prisoners. Human Rights Watch interviews with prisoners at Swaqa, August 26, 2007.
176 Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, Public Security Directorate, Police Court, Decision in the Criminal Case Number 760/2007, October 29, 2007, p.1.
177 Human Rights Watch interview Mazin al-Qadi, director, Public Security Directorate, Amman, April 13, 2008.
178 Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, Public Security Directorate, Police Court, Decision in the Criminal Case Number 760/2007, October 29, 2007, pp.3-5.
179 Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, Public Security Directorate, Police Court, Decision in the Criminal Case Number 760/2007, October 29, 2007, p.4. The PSD follows military ranks and organization.
180 Letter from Human Rights Watch to Abd al-Karim Radaida, Memorandum Concerning the Investigation Into the Treatment of Firas Zaidan at Aqaba Correction and Rehabilitation Center, May 6-10, 2007, September 17, 2007. International standards require the removal of a person implicated in torture from contact with victims or witnesses. Manual on the Effective Investigation and Documentation of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (Istanbul Protocol), August 9, 1999., p.19.
181 Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, Public Security Directorate, Police Court, Decision in the Criminal Case Number 383/2007, April 3, 2008, p.16.
182 Clomipramine is used in anti-depressant medication and witnesses told Human Rights Watch that two prisoners, also prosecution witnesses sharing a ward with Zaidan, were taking psychiatric drugs at the time, given to them by guards who participated in the beating of Zaidan. The prosecution did not investigate how the substance entered Zaidans body, despite orders of the head of the Public Security Directorate urging the Legal Affairs departments prosecutors to find out how the [substance] entered Zaidans body. Handwritten note by Maj.Gen Mahmud al-Aitan, the previous PSD director, written on prosecution documents in the case. Papers on file with Human Rights Watch.
183 Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, Public Security Directorate, Police Court, Decision in the Criminal Case Number 383/2007, April 3, 2008, p.16.
184 Human Rights Watch interview with Maj.Gen. Mazin al-Qadi, director, PSD, Amman, April 13, 2008.
185 Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, Public Security Directorate, Police Court, Decision issued by the Police Court / First Chamber, in the Criminal Case Number 299/2004, March 9, 2004, p.14.
186 For example, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the body internationally tasked with looking after the welfare of detainees around the world, has visited Jordanian detention centers since 1979, and has not suspended visits in protest at official obstruction since 2006. Jordans National Center for Human Rights regularly visits places of detention, including the detention center at the General Intelligence Department (although visits there remain announced despite the GIDs promises to allow for surprise inspections). Human Rights Watch interview with officials of the General Intelligence Department, Amman, August 30, 2007, debriefing them on our findings following two weeks of repeated surprise visits to the detention facility in which they agreed on similar conditions for the NCHR. In 2006, Jordan became the first country in the region to invite the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, although officials in two detention centers obstructed his visit. Jordan has not at present signed the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture providing increased methods of prevention and detection of torture.
187 Relationship with the Press During Times of Emergency, in: Sad al-Limun and Khalid al-Majali, Working Guide for Directors of Correction and Rehabilitation Centers, Public Security Directorate, 2008, pp.33-34.
188 Arab Organization for Human Rights, Annual Report, Amman, 2007, and Report of the Freedoms Committee of the Jordan Engineers Association, Amman, April 12, 2006.
189 This was the case in riots at Qafqafa prison in March 2006 in which one prisoner died, and in riots in Swaqa prison in August 2007 at which Human Rights Watch was present.
190 Several families contacted Human Rights Watch for information about their loved ones following riots at Swaqa prison in July and August 2007, and following riots at Muwaqqar prison in April 2008.
191 Muwaffaq Kamal, Col. Al-Umari: International Organizations Speak of Human Rights and Neglect the Duties, Al-Ghadd, March 8, 2008 http://www.alGhad.jo/index.php?news=312831 (accessed August 25, 2008).
192 Hashal al-Adayila and Ziyad al-Dakhil, Publication of Results of the Inquiry into Muwaqqar, Swaqa, and Qafqafa Riots Within Days Al-Ghadd, April 19, 2008.
193 Human Rights Watch interview with Mahir Shishani, Amman, July 31, 2008.
194 Zayid al-Dakhil, Judeh: Some Prisoners Beat Themselves Before the Visit of a Delegation of Human Rights," Al-Ghadd, August 27, 2008 http://www.alGhad.jo/index.php?news=196384 (accessed August 25, 2008).
195 Following publication of the Human Rights Watch report, Suspicious Sweeps. The General Intelligence Department and Jordans Rule of Law Problem, in Amman in September 2006, Al-Rai newspaper reported that the secretary of the parliamentary Committee for Public Freedoms and Citizen Rights, Deputy Jamal al-Dumur, said that the sources of this [reports] information came from suspicious parts known to attach epithets to the Jordanian state and to distort its snow-white image in international circles. Parliamentary Freedoms Rebuts False Accusations by Human Rights, Al-Rai, September 21, 2006.
196 Al-Fayez: Necessity of Striving for Accuracy in the Reports of International Organizations, Al-Rai, April 26, 2007.
197 Muwaffaq Kamal, Minister of Interior: International Criticisms of Kingdoms Prisons Not Objective Al-Ghadd, January 6, 2008. Similarly, the head of the PSDs Grievances and Human Rights Office, Mahir Shishani, whose job is to investigate police abuse, dismissed human rights reporting, saying that some human rights institutions and activists pretend to forget the human right to live in security far from terrorism or crime. Muwaffaq Kamal, Security Tries 12 Police for Abusing Citizens, Al-Ghadd, April 1, 2007. The previous head of the prison service, Husain al-Tarawna, also considered information human rights organizations obtain from prisoners to be mostly incorrect. Muwaffaq Kamal, Director of Correction and Rehabilitation Centers Confirms to Al-Ghadd that its Doors Are Open for Civil Society Institutions, Al-Ghadd, June 3, 2006.
198 Muhammad al-Shahwan, the head of the Parties of the National Movement, a bloc of political parties, wrote to the United Nations Secretary-General following the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Tortures report on torture in Jordan. Al-Shahwan, who later told Human Rights Watch he had no expertise in conducting prison visits, insisted that he himself had visited the General Intelligence Departments (GID) detention center and Juwaidah prison and found that they were completely in compliance with the stipulations of the Convention against Torture. National Movement Parties Respond to Nowak and Deny the Presence of Transgressions in Rehabilitation Centres, al-Rai,. Human Rights Watch communication with Muhammad al-Shahwan, February 2007. When Human Rights Watch briefed the president of the parliament, Abd al-Hadi al-Majali, about our findings concerning arbitrary arrest and torture by the GID in September 2006, he called the report an insult to Jordan, while pointing out that torture existed not only in Jordan, but also in other countries like West Germany in the 1970s. Human Rights Watch interview with Abd al-Hadi al-Majali, President, Lower House of Parliament, Amman, September 18, 2006.
When King Abdullah ordered the closure of Jafr prison, which the National Center for Human Rights recommended in 2005, a columnist for the government-prone al-Rai dismissed the Royal Committee for Human Rights [sic], [which] does not have the attributes or law that would qualify its recommendations to be mandatory. The closure of the Jafr prison was not at its recommendation or under obligation but there had been for four years a desire [by the PSD] to close that prison. Abd al-Hadi Raji al-Majali, About the Prisons, Al-Rai, November 15, 2007. Jafr prison only re-opened in 2005.