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Authorities probing suspected violations at Jerash care centre

By Khetam Malkawi - Apr 13,2014 - Last updated at Apr 13,2014

AMMAN — The Ministry of Social Development on Sunday launched an investigation to look into complaints received about violations at a Jerash disability care centre.

Social Development Minister Reem Abu Hassan has formed a committee to handle the investigation, according to Fawaz Ratrout, the ministry’s spokesperson.

“We have received complaints related to violations in the centre, and we want to check whether they exist or not,” Ratrout told The Jordan Times over the phone.

Although he was reluctant to comment on the type of violations, the spokesperson said some of them are related to abuse of centre residents.

“The committee started its work today [Sunday] and it will soon prepare a report on the situation of the centre over the past three years,” Ratrout said.

The centre, which is affiliated with the ministry, houses 200 people with moderate to severe mental disabilities, he added.

According to Population and Housing data for 2004, the disability rate in the country stands at 1.23 per cent of the population. 

The 2005 World Bank report on international disability rates, however, puts the rate at a minimum of 4-5 per cent, or 194,000 people.

Last year, the Ministry of Social Development shut down eight care centres and issued warnings to 14 others.

The ministry stepped up its efforts to inspect care centres in 2012 after a documentary aired by the BBC featured children being abused in several special education centres, turning the matter into an issue of public concern.

Following the documentary, His Majesty King Abdullah paid unannounced visits to several special education centres and issued directives to the government to investigate all facilities providing services to people with disabilities and hold accountable every person involved in violations.

To this end, the Social Development Ministry formed a committee to investigate the alleged violations, which is continuing to examine the situation of orphans and disability care centres across Jordan.

Several centres have been closed down or received warnings since then, while legal action has been taken against staff members found responsible for violations.

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