Jordanians End Up in Prison For Failing to Repay Loans

(Amman) – An alarming number of Jordanians end up in prison each year solely for failing to repay their loans, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Imprisonment for debt is a clear violation of international human rights law which few countries impose.

In the 47-page report, “‘We Lost Everything’: Debt Imprisonment in Jordan,” Human Rights Watch documents the harsh treatment of people unable to repay their debts. In the absence of an adequate social security net, tens of thousands of Jordanians feel compelled to take out loans to cover utilities, groceries, school fees, and medical bills. They often use unregulated informal lenders. Jordanian authorities should urgently replace laws that allow for debt imprisonment with effective personal bankruptcy legislation and enact social security protections to support indigent people.


Jordan is one of the few countries to still put people in prison for failing to repay debt.

But there are many common misconceptions in the public about this.


One misconception is that this practice is necessary to make sure that debt is repaid.


The fact is debt imprisonment is one of the least effective ways to ensure debt is repaid.


Staying out of prison allows people to work and repay in installments. Personal bankruptcy laws and asset freezes are some alternatives used in other countries.


The people who have taken out these loans spend recklessly and should have known better.


Jordan has a woefully inadequate social security net, leading many, including doctors and lawyers, to take out debts to cover living essentials.


In 2015 4352, were wanted for debt. That increased tenfold to 43,624 by 2019. 


Only crooks and fraudsters end up in jail for failing to repay debt. 


Jordanian law does not make a distinction between people unable to pay and those who are unwilling to pay.


The government spends more than $750JD that’s $1,000 a month to imprison each person for debt.


Money that could be invested in building a better standard of living for all of us.


End debt imprisonment now.

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