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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
06AMMAN9071 2006-12-24 10:53:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Amman
Cable title:  

KING ABDULLAH CLOSES AL-JAFR PRISON

Tags:   PGOV PHUM JO 
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1. (U) KING ABDULLAH ANNOUNCED DECEMBER 17 THAT AL-JAFR
PRISON, LOCATED IN THE DESERT APPROXIMATELY 260 KM SOUTH OF
AMMAN, WOULD BE CLOSED AND TRANSFORMED INTO A VOCATIONAL
TRAINING CENTER. IN REMARKS MADE AT THE NATIONAL CENTER FOR
HUMAN RIGHTS (NCHR) THE KING EMPHASIZED THE NEED TO IMPROVE
PRISON CONDITIONS THROUGHOUT JORDAN, STRESSING THAT A PRISON
IS NOT ONLY A PLACE FOR PUNISHMENT BUT ALSO FOR
REHABILITATION.



2. (SBU) BUILT IN 1952, AL-JAFR WAS ONE OF THE OLDEST
PRISONS OPERATED BY THE PUBLIC SECURITY DIRECTORATE (PSD).
JORDANIAN AND INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS GROUPS ALLEGED THAT
THE LIVING AND SANITATION CONDITIONS AT AL-JAFR WERE BELOW
INTERNATIONAL STANDARDS. POOR PRISON CONDITIONS HAVE
RECEIVED SIGNIFICANT PUBLIC ATTENTION IN JORDAN OVER THE LAST
YEAR, AND CONTRIBUTED TO RIOTS AND HUNGER STRIKES IN MULTIPLE
FACILITIES (REF'S A AND B). NOTE: NO RIOTS OR HUNGER STRIKES
OCCURRED IN AL-JAFR ITSELF. END NOTE. ACCORDING TO THE NCHR,
AL-JAFR PRISON HAS HAD NO INMATES FOR THE LAST FEW WEEKS.



3. (SBU) PSD DIRECTOR LT. GENERAL MOHAMMAD MAJED AL-EITAN
EARLIER TOLD THE AMBASSADOR ON DECEMBER 14 THAT THE PRISON
WOULD CLOSE SOON. IN THE MEETING, EITAN ALSO SAID THAT THE
PSD WOULD OUTLINE A STRATEGIC PLAN IN CONJUNCTION WITH THE
MINISTRY OF HEALTH (MOH) TO IMPROVE CONDITIONS IN PRISONS
THROUGHOUT JORDAN BEGINNING IN EARLY 2007. IN PUBLIC
STATEMENTS, EITAN HAS BLAMED OVER-CROWDING FOR POOR
CONDITIONS IN PRISONS. THE PSD HAS PLANS TO INCREASE
CAPACITY BY OPENING THREE NEW REHABILITATION CENTERS IN THE
NEXT YEAR: ONE IN AL-MUWAQQAR, ONE IN UMM AL LU'LU', AND ONE
IN THE SOUTH OF THE COUNTRY. AS THESE NEW FACILITIES ARE
BUILT, OTHER, OLDER PRISONS MAY BE SHUT DOWN.



4. (SBU) HUMAN RIGHTS GROUPS AND NGOS WELCOMED THE KING'S
ANNOUNCEMENT. ALLEGATIONS OF MALTREATMENT AT AL-JAFR WERE
RIFE. JAFR ALSO MADE NEWS WHEN FOUR MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT
WHO WERE ARRESTED FOLLOWING THEIR VISIT TO ABU MUSAB
AL-ZARQAWI,S CONDOLENCE TENT WERE DETAINED THERE (REF C). IN
THE LAST SIX MONTHS, AL-JAFR WAS VISITED BY THE UN SPECIAL
RAPPORTEUR FOR TORTURE (REF D), AND BY INTERNATIONAL
ORGANIZATIONS SUCH AS AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL AND HUMAN RIGHTS
WATCH. THE NCHR CALLED FOR THE CLOSURE OF THE PRISON LAST
YEAR, AND THE KING DECIDED TO CLOSE IT AFTER VISITING THE
PREMISES. STATE NEWS AGENCY PETRA REPORTED THAT THE NCHR
"PAID TRIBUTE TO THE ROYAL DECISION SAYING 'AL-JAFR (IS)
BEHIND US FROM THIS MOMENT".


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