Torture rampant in Jordan’s prisons, report says

Human Rights Watch condemns the U.S. ally, saying prisoners are tortured and abusers go punished.
By Raed Rafei, Special to The Times
3:22 PM PDT, October 8, 2008
BEIRUT — For three days, he was severely beaten by prison guards. Then, on an early morning in May, Firas Zaidan was found dead in his solitary-confinement cell in Jordan, one of the United States’ staunchest allies in the Middle East.

An investigation was launched. But, as with numerous other cases, there are doubts about whether Jordanian authorities will hold prison officials accountable for the alleged torture and death, according to a lengthy report published Wednesday by Human Rights Watch.


 Jordanian Prison where some of the torture and killings take place on a regular basis.

U.S. officials often refer to human rights violations in condemning geopolitical rivals such as Russia, Iran and Syria. But the report says that prisoners in the small Arab monarchy, whose ruler, King Abdullah II, is strongly allied with the United States, are regularly subjected to torture and that their abusers are rarely punished.

In the 95-page report, “Torture and Impunity in Jordan’s Prisons,” the New York-based watchdog organization accused the Jordanian government of failing to prevent extensive human rights violations of inmates, often political dissidents or government opponents.

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