Visit to the Muwaqqar I prison, with experts Susanne Gerlach (centre) and Martin Riemer (on the right)
Visit to the Muwaqqar I prison, with experts Susanne Gerlach (centre) and Martin Riemer (on the right)

From 19 to 21 December 2017, the IRZ and the Jordanian prison authorities organised a workshop on "Prison conditions in accordance with international standards and professional training and education for prison inmates". This took place as part of a transformation partnership project supported by the German Foreign Office, which began at the end of 2017.

The Jordanian participants included the management of the Jordanian prison authorities, the heads of all Jordanian detention facilities and the Director and employees of the training academy for Jordanian penal institutions.

One of the German experts taking part in the event was Susanne Gerlach, Senior Senate Councillor, Head of Department III Law Enforcement, Social Services and Grace at the Berlin Senate for Justice and Consumer Protection. Another German expert in Amman was Martin Riemer, Head of the Tegel penal institution. The event was divided into a workshop including expert lectures and discussions, followed by a professional visit to the Muwaqqar I prison, which is not far from Amman.

On the subject of "Prison conditions in accordance with international human rights standards from the perspective of German and Jordanian practices", the rules applied in the two countries (e.g. European prison regulations, UN Nelson Mandela Rules) and the individual procedures in the prisons of both countries were compared.

There was a widespread lack of understanding amongst the Jordanians of individual accommodation for prison inmates in the German prison system, even if the underlying concept could be understood in principle. Massive overcrowding in Jordanian prisons means that the Jordanian law enforcement system faces a major challenge when it comes to continuing to meet international human rights standards in prisons.

On the range of topics concerning professional training and education for prison inmates, on the other hand, it became clear that the general framework for professional training of prison inmates is totally comparable between German and Jordanian penal institutions. In the Jordanian prison system as well, participating in training and work programmes has a beneficial effect on the rest of the prison sentence (e.g. reduction of prison sentences).

During the visit to the Muwaqqar I prison, one of the five most modern closed prisons for male prisoners in Jordan, subjects of discussion included the process for dealing with Islamic extremists in the Jordanian prison system, as well as the issue of accommodation in accordance with international standards.

In Muwaqqar, a total of more than 300 extremists (all of whom are Jordanian citizens) are imprisoned. They are kept strictly separate from other prisoners in order to prevent any potential radicalisation of fellow prisoners. The Jordanian prison system has also developed a special "behavioural treatment programme" for Islamic prisoners involving contributions from social education workers, experts in religion and Imams.