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Rights group decries Jordanian treatment of detainees

[JURIST] Jordan's General Intelligence Department (GID) [official website] frequently makes arbitrary arrests, detains suspects without charges and abuses political dissidents, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] said in a new report [text; press release] released Tuesday. The monitoring group found that detainees are arbitrarily arrested and held in GID's detention facility in Amman without access to their family or a lawyer. The report investigated the arrest of 16 people by the GID who provided testimony about torture and abuse they suffered while in detention. To date, 13 of these detainees have been released without trial. HRW urged Jordan [JURIST news archive] to ensure that the GID provides all detainees with independent judicial review of the charges filed against them and gives them access to legal counsel, "Especially when governments rely heavily on security services, it is important to ensure that they operate within the framework of basic international human rights standards."

The Jordanian government has denied the allegations of abuse. HRW called on President Bush and members of Congress to address these concerns with King Abdullah II [official website] during his current visit to the US and with the director-general of the GID, Maj. Gen. Muhammad al-Dhahabi, who is accompanying the king. AP has more. BBC News has additional coverage.

In June, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Manfred Nowak told a press conference [JURIST report] following the conclusion of a two-day visit to Jordan that the country should criminalize torture and end the use of special courts that protect accused police and intelligence officials. Nowak said he had evidence that torture is systematically practiced at two detention centers in Amman run by the GID and the Central Investigation Department (CID) of the Public Security Forces, as well at as the much-maligned Jaefer prison, but that officials at both centers obstructed his investigation through denying access to areas of the prison and hiding evidence. Animated by similar concerns about detainee treatment, the British government concluded a special memorandum of understanding [PDF] with Jordan in August 2005 under which Jordan promised that any persons deported by the UK to Jordan would be treated "in a humane and proper manner, in accordance with internationally accepted standards." The agreement has nonetheless been criticized by rights groups [HRW press release] as inadequate.

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