NCHR report finds overcrowding still problem

An undated photo of a correctional facility in Jordan. (Photo: Saher Qaddara/JNews)
An undated photo of a correctional facility in Jordan. (Photo: Saher Qaddara/JNews)
The National Center for Human Rights (NCHR) called on authorities and stakeholders to take the necessary measures to ensure that concerns around reform and rehabilitation centers are addressed. اضافة اعلان

The third periodic report on the conditions of reform and rehabilitation centers in the Kingdom was released on Wednesday.

At a press conference, Alaeddin Al-Armouti, the commissioner-general for human rights, highlighted the report’s most important findings. According to the report, the number of inmates in the reform and rehabilitation centers exceeded the absorptive capacity. The actual number of inmates in these centers in 2020 was about 17,708, compared to 19,965 inmates in 2019. The legal capacity of these centers is only 13,352 inmates. 

However, this week the government announced that a total of 491 inmates who were convicted of minor misdemeanors would be sentenced to community service instead of incarceration, easing overcrowding in prisons.

Head of the Bar Syndicate, Mazen Rshaidat, contextualized the alternative sentencing as a social distancing measure. “In light of the pandemic, some prisons did not accommodate the presence of large numbers of prisoners, and to reduce the burden, this law was implemented,” he said.

The report also described a number of challenges facing reform centers, which include the obstacles preventing inmates from being classified in the manner laid down by law, the flawed mechanism for transporting inmates from reform and rehabilitation centers to hospitals and courts, the shortage of medical equipment, as well as the scarcity of psychological care, which is limited to one visit per week. 

“It is evident that there are a number of insufficiencies that need change,” Al-Armouti told Jordan News “Our duty is to point out these insufficiencies on an annual basis to eliminate them in the future.”  

The report highlighted some concerns about the inmates in reform and rehabilitation centers. Some inmates were in facilities that were far away from their homes, and many administratively detained inmates expressed dissatisfaction with the duration of their imprisonment, as well as bail fines being high. Some also expressed dissatisfaction with the limited number of phone calls they received.

“These inmates have rights that should not only be maintained with instructions but by the law itself, whether by improving the centers’ laws or creating a new independent (center) that is more effective and respectful,” Al-Aroumti added.

A number of changes were recommended for the correctional facilities. The most notable of these were the completion of the maintenance at Qafqafa Rehabilitation Center and the maintenance of the women’s detention section in Umm Lulu Center and the reactivation of both centers, equipping an operator in the Swaqa Rehabilitation Center to maintain sterilization gates, and creating an electronic system for sending inmate visit requests, while also extending the activation of the remote trial system in collaboration with the Ministry of Justice.

The report also stated that the centers set a number of safety procedures to limit the spread of COVID-19, such as using a security protocols to restrict the spread of the virus among the inmates, sterilizing the centers, and providing sterilization and public safety equipment, as well as providing instructional videos for inmates on general coronavirus safety procedures.

The report offered a number of recommendations focused on a holistic approach based on the concept of institutional state and mutual support in order to advance the reality of human rights in general, and in particular the rights of inmates in reform and recovery centers.

Some of these recommendations included following the procedures and criteria for classifying inmates as the first step in the reform and rehabilitation process. The report also focused on amending the law to ensure the organization of inmate searches by establishing specific inspection orders that respect the integrity of individuals and also the importance of paying particular attention to drug addicts and users of narcotic medications and psychotropic substances, as well as enrolling them in treatment facilities.

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