For the past few months, West Ammanis have been in love with the show “Prison Break”, buying the 1JD ‘DVD’ copies in bulk. I never really liked the show or understood some Jordanians’ infatution with it, especially when we have so much prison drama right here in Jordan.
Amman – The director of Jordan’s Swaqa prison, 60 kilometres south of Amman, has been suspended and replaced, three days after more than 100 inmates injured themselves during a visit to the facility by human rights activists, a senior official said Wednesday.
Public Security Department (PSD) spokesman Major Bashir Daaja said that the department had decided to name Colonel Abdul Karim Oqaili as new warden replacing Major Majed Rawashdeh, who was shifted to another post.
Daaja did not elaborate, but local newspapers said that Rawashdeh was suspended ‘for committing fatal administrative errors that do not conform to the PSD’s reform policy.’
‘Rawashdeh is being questioned in connection with Sunday’s incident and if it was proven that he was responsible for what happened, he will be subject to administrative measures,’ papers quoted sources familiar with the development as saying.
During a visit to the Swaqa Correctional and Rehabilitation Centre by a Human Rights Watch team on Sunday, more than 100 inmates ‘with criminal records inflicted injuries to themselves with toilet ceramic tiles to draw the attention of the human rights activists,’ Daaja said earlier.
Many of the prisoners were treated at the facility, which has over 2,000 inmates, while others were rushed to nearby hospitals for medical treatment.
HRW Middle East and North Africa Division researcher Christoph Wilcke, who was part of the team visiting the prison, welcomed the PSD’s ‘swift’ step.
However, he expressed hope that the investigations into the claims of torture by inmates he met would be ‘carried out by persons not connected with the PSD.’
Wilcke told Jordan Times that he noticed bruises on the inmates he interviewed and heard allegations that all the prisoners were subjected to ‘heavy beatings.’
In a related development, the head of Jordan’s National Human Rights Centre, Ahmad Obeidat, has criticised what he called the ‘irresponsible behaviour’ of the Swaqa Prison that led to the ‘deterioration of the human conditions of inmates.’
Obeidat, a former prime minister, urged the formation of a neutral judicial committee to investigate the ‘tragic situation’ at the prison. [source]
You can explain this in several ways. Either its become a trend to shut down prisons soon after a human rights group visits, thus giving prisoners a reason to injure themselves in hopes of that happening. Or, the situation is so bad that prisoners actually beat themselves to reflect the situation.
Either scenario sounds absurd.
But it seems neither the government nor the royal courts, or anyone else whose in charge of the issue, have any idea what they’re doing. Public policy seems to be based on reactionary measures to human rights reports. The idea is to “clean” things up by putting away the trouble makers and taking human rights groups on special “tours” to show them that every thing’s alright.
Everything is not alright.
Occam’s razor states that the simplest solution is often the right one and in this case it couldn’t be more true. Cleaning up the prisons is a good idea. Turning them in to actual correctional facilities and rehabilitation centers (in most cases) is not a bad idea either. It’s not a difficult task. The government receives less flak from human rights groups, the prisoners are dealt with humanly, and reformed prisoners may even alleviate tax burdens on the citizen who has to eventually pay for a prisoner’s inevitable return visit.
A neutral and independent judicial committee is also not such a bad idea.
But I doubt any of that will ever happen. And if it does, it will be a public policy based purely on window-dressing measures. It’s just easier to keep beating prisoners, firing scapegoats, and forming so-called neutral committees to investigate in a judicial system that is anything but independent.
In any case, speaking of prisons. Here’s some more interesting news to deal with:
AMMAN, Jordan: Jordanian intelligence services will allow independent human rights groups to visit detainees in its prison facility, a New York-based rights watchdog said Wednesday.
“The Jordanian intelligence agency has agreed to allow independent human rights monitoring organizations to visit prisoners at its secretive detention facility for the first time,” Human Rights Watch said in a statement.
The group said its representatives, along with those from the Jordanian-based Adaleh Center and Human and Environment Observatory, have been given permission to visit the prison later this month and speak with detainees. [source]