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35 local, int’l groups to visit Swaqa prison Monday — gov’t human rights coordinator

By Rana Husseini - Oct 08,2017 - Last updated at Oct 08,2017

AMMAN — The office of the government coordinator for human rights, in coordination with the Public Security Department (PSD), is organising a visit to Swaqa Correctional and Rehabilitation Centre (SCRC) by 35 local and international organisations, as well as diplomats and journalists on Monday.

The visit by the local and international community comes almost two weeks following alleged riots and arson by dozens of SCRC inmates that turned the attention towards the situation in the Kingdom’s 16 correctional facilities, Basel Tarawneh, the government’s coordinator for human rights, said on Saturday.

Several video clips purportedly showing riots and inmates harming themselves with sharp objects at SCRC circulated on social media on September 22 causing outrage among many Jordanians.

Dozens of inmates were referred to the State Security Court (SSC) on terror related charges as a result of the incident at the correctional facility, and over 20 police officers were referred to the police prosecutor for questioning  for allegedly violating duties in addition to charges of smuggling illegal substances to the inmates.

In addition, over 100 police officers from various correctional facilities were relocated to serve in other PSD offices following the SCRC incident.

“The Swaqa incident was an important lesson to us and we will build on it to tackle all the negative practices and aspects that are present in our correctional facilities,” Tarawneh told The Jordan Times

A coalition of human rights delegation visited the facility shortly after the incident occurred and were informed by prison officials about the nature of the events and the “swift actions” taken to deal with it by the SCRC administration.

Following the delegation’s visit, images were released to the media showing two dormitories entirely destroyed by fire as well as photos of dozens of sharp objects, iron bars, ropes and other light objects, that were reportedly found with some inmates.

“The aim of our visit is to monitor the latest procedures that are being adopted by the prison administration to deal with inmates and also allow the visiting delegation to meet with inmates themselves in person to learn more about the nature of the services provided to them,” Tarawneh explained.

The delegation, according to Tarawneh, will get a first-hand look at the services provided including “health, food, recreational activities, education and the facility’s environment in general”.

“We want to ensure a long-term and sustainable programmes that would serve the inmates in the best manner and would ensure securing their human rights while serving their time,” Tarawneh added.

The government coordinator added that the focus will also be on reintroducing Islamic and Christian religious teachings at the facilities, as well as “ensuring interactive programmes and providing academic opportunities via the Internet for inmates who desire to purse higher degrees”.

He added that his office and other “organisations who work on programmes related to inmates and correctional facilities in specific will visit the facilities on a monthly basis to follow up on the situation, the environment and the inmates”.

The alleged riots reportedly started two days after a decision by the prison administration to move a few inmates to different dormitories and to conduct inspection campaigns. This move resulted in the alleged seizure of illegal substances and sharp objects.

 

The prisoners had previously complained during meetings with representatives from human rights organisations of “overcrowding, bad food quality and refusals to their demands to move to different dormitories”.

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