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Investigation ongoing after emergence of ‘prison riot’ video

By Rana Husseini - Sep 23,2017 - Last updated at Sep 23,2017

AMMAN — Government officials on Saturday said an individual is being questioned on suspicion of providing a mobile phone to inmates at a correctional and rehabilitation centre that exposed purported riots at the facility over the weekend.

Video clips purportedly showing riots and inmates harming themselves with sharp objects at Swaqa Correctional and Rehabilitation Centre (SCRC) circulated on social media on Friday causing outrage among many Jordanians.

Police Chief Maj. Gen. Ahmad Sarhan Al Faqeeh, who visited the prison repeatedly since the riots occurred and was later contained by gendarmerie and other security forces, “immediately” ordered the formation of an investigation committee, according to Government Coordinator for Human Rights Basil Tarawneh.

“The committee’s preliminary findings indicated that there was ‘an individual inside the facility’ who was cooperating with inmates and smuggled a mobile phone in return for JD600,” Tarawneh told The Jordan Times.

Tarawneh added that the riots occurred after authorities conducted inspection campaigns over the past few days in several dormitories of the facility following information that “inmates were making sharp objects from beds and other equipment in the rooms”.

“It seems that the inmates were not happy with the inspections and decided to harm themselves and started rioting,” Tarawneh added.

Meanwhile, Police Spokesperson Lt. Col. Amer Sartawi told The Jordan Times that investigations were ongoing into the incident that occurred in two dormitories at SCRC. 

The riots, according to a Public Security Department (PSD) statement, began following an inspection round that the prison administration conducted on Thursday to seize “illegal substances that were found with the inmates”.

“The riots also occurred because prison administration decided to move some inmates convicted of criminal offences and who had a bad misconduct record to other correctional facilities,” according to the PSD statement.

Gendarmerie forces along with police officers managed to contain the situation “as stipulated by the law and at the same time taking into consideration the humanitarian conditions of the inmates”, the PSD statement added. 

The statement said that “all inmates were treated for injuries and none had any life-threatening injuries”. 

Tarawneh said a team from the National Centre for Human Rights (NCHR) will visit the SCRC on Sunday “to check on the situation and the procedures that are being adopted by the prison officials regarding this incident”.

“The NCHR representative will be allowed to attend the investigation procedures with the committee that was formed to attend the investigations as part of the PSD’s transparency policy in handling such matters,” Tarawneh added.

In addition, Tarawneh added that four representatives from the Jordanian Coalition to Combat Torture will also visit the SCRC along with him on Sunday to check on the facility and to “listen from officials about the latest developments regarding the investigations”.

“Based on the results of the NCHR visit and the committee’s outcome, we will inform everyone of our next step,” Tarawneh told The Jordan Times.

According to Tarawneh, the inmates’ safety and security is a priority for everyone. 

 “We want to ensure the full safety and security of inmates and surely the inspection campaign was necessary to collect any harmful tools that could harm inmates and prison guards as well,” Tarawneh added.

The inspection campaigns seemed to “have bothered some inmates and they started the riots and harmful practices that were seen in the video clips”, according to Tarawneh.

“The inmates who were involved in the riots and harmed themselves were distributed among the prison in various dormitories in a scientific manner,” Tarawneh added.

People took to Facebook to comment on the video clips that circulated on social media purportedly showing inmates jumping on beds and slashing their bodies with sharp objects.

“We all know that mobiles are forbidden. How did these inmates possess a mobile phone and to whose benefit was it that these videos were released to the public,” Sameera Jabra wrote.

Meanwhile, Salah Maaytah questioned on his Facebook page how the inmates had access to sharp objects and mobile phones.

 

“ًWas there a security breach? How did this happen?  It needs to be seriously investigated,” Maaytah wrote.

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