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Jordan/U.S.: Summit Should Address Torture Problem

Jordan/U.S.: Summit Should Address Torture Problem

King Must Act to End Abuses

(Washington, D.C.) – King Abdullah needs to root out continuing serious rights abuses in Jordan, Human Rights Watch said today. President Bush should call on Jordan to take steps to end torture, especially by the General Intelligence Department, when he meets with the king tomorrow.

“King Abdullah’s reform agenda has won many accolades, but has not tackled continued serious abuses such as torture,” said Joe Stork, deputy director of the Middle East and North Africa division at Human Rights Watch. “Reform means not only changing laws but also holding abusers accountable.”

A number of Jordanians told Human Rights Watch about torture they had been subjected to or had witnessed at the hands of the General Intelligence Department. Under Jordanian law, security forces can detain suspects in crimes under the jurisdiction of the State Security Court for seven days without charge or access to a lawyer. In almost all cases investigated by Human Rights Watch, the alleged torture took place during these initial days of detention.

The General Intelligence Department holds suspects incommunicado and interrogates them in its own detention center, contrary to the specific recommendations made by the U.N. Committee against Torture in response to Jordan’s last report to the committee in 1995. These call for a separation of the personnel managing detention facilities and those carrying out interrogations.

While Jordan’s government and parliament are discussing new legislation to expand media freedoms and political participation, King Abdullah’s reform agenda has stopped short of addressing the deep flaws in Jordan’s criminal justice system. Access to lawyers, inadmissibility of confessions obtained by torture, and prosecution of rights violators are areas of Jordanian law and practice that the government should address urgently.

“King Abdullah should order an independent investigation into Jordan’s torture problem without delay,” Stork said. “Political reforms won’t mean much unless citizens can engage in peaceful political activity without fear of arrest and torture.”

Jordan is receiving $210 million in U.S. military assistance and $250 million in economic assistance in 2006, including a large portion as budgetary support.

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