موجز أخبار راديو البلد
  • الحكومة تؤكد إنجاز أكثر من اثنين وستين بالمئة من قائمة التعهّدات التي أعلنها رئيس الوزراء عمر الرزّاز ضمن البيان الوزاري.
  • وزير الخارجية أيمن الصفدي، يعلن أن الأردن يعمل بالتعاون مع عدد من الدول والهيئات المعنية؛ على تنظيم مؤتمر لبحث سبل تجاوز الأزمة التي تعاني منها "الأونروا"
  • عشرات المستوطنين يجددون اقتحام باحات المسجد الأقصى من جهة باب المغاربة، وبحراسة من شرطة وقوات الاحتلال الإسرائيلي.
  • أمانة عمان تزيل مئة وتسع وتسعين حظيرة ذبح للأضاحي، وتحرر أكثر مئة وستين مخالفة لعدم التزامها بشروط السلامة العامة.
  • وفاة خمسة أشخاص وإصابة حوالي أربعمئة وتسعين آخرين، بحوادث مختلفة خلال عطلة عيد الأضحى.
  • وحدة تنسيق القبول الموحد تستقبل أكثر من ثمانية وثلاثين ألف طلب التحاق الكتروني بالجامعات الرسمية.
  • وأخيرا.. يطرأ انخفاض على درجات الحرارة نهار اليوم، وتكون الأجواء صيفية معتدلة في المرتفعات الجبلية والسهول،و حارة في الأغوار والبادية والبحر الميت.
Victims of Human Trafficking Behind Bars
2015/05/20

Amman Net – Ezzedine Al Natour

Translated into English and Edited by Julia Norris

The Sri Lankan worker “Siderana” spent an entire year administratively detained in the Jwadeh Correctional and Rehabilitation Center, in the capital Amman, due to her inability to pay for her bail or for the price of a plane ticket back to her country. The police arrested her following the expiration of her work and residency permits. It was subsequently found that she was a victim of human trafficking and that she had been forced to overstay her permits by at least two years.

 

Siderana, age 44, mother of two, came to Jordan in 2004 through a recruitment office, with a signed contract guaranteeing her a salary of $200. However, she was shocked to find that the office agreed to employ her three separate times with a salary not exceeding $100. According to her talk with us, she did not receive any payment from them even after the close of her contractual period in 2006.

 

Siderana recalled one of her work experiences during the period of her contract in which she worked for one year without wages for a family in the Madaba governorate, “I was waking up at five, at dawn, to wash cars then I would go to work in the school owned by the head of the family I worked for, and after the office hours I would go back to the home and work until 2 o’clock in the morning.”

 

At the end of Siderana’s contractual period, she turned to her country’s embassy for help. The embassy in turn followed up with her employers, asking them for her salary or for the cost of a return plane ticket, to which they refused. This forced Siderana into staying at the embassy for a period of seven months before they asked her to leave and look for work in order to afford the cost of a return ticket. This order served to force her into working in illegal conditions, with salaries that did not exceed $100, for seven years, until she was arrested in 2013 and administratively detained in the Jwaideh correctional Centre.

 

Siderana is considered a victim of human trafficking, which includes forced labor under its definition. It is possible that we would not know her story if not for having met her inside the Jwaideh women’s prison, with a team from the Enable Center (مركز تمكين) for Legal Aid and Human Rights, at the end of 2013. Her case is similar to dozens of cases in which those who were administratively detained were proven afterwards to be victims of human trafficking.

 

The Difficult Conditions of Detention

The Enable Center, in their last visit to Jwaideh on March 25th, found Filipino, Sri Lankan, and Bangladeshi nationals. The center does not rule out the possibility that 18 of the women may be victims of human trafficking.

 

The deputy executive director for the Enable Center, Diala Omari, who participated in the visit, said that the Jwaideh center claimed to be ignorant of the information that the inmates told her and her team.The center asserted that no questions were asked about the working conditions of the detainees during the initial stages of investigation or after they were administratively detained. These working conditions included non-payment of wages, physical and psychological assault, and sexual assault in some cases.

 

Another case which is no different from Siderana’s is that of the Filipino domestic worker “Maria,” who came under administrative detention this year after the expiration of her residency permit. Maria, a pseudonym given to her to protect her identity, confirmed that they did not ask her about her working conditions during the initial stages of the investigation at the security center or even after she was transferred to the Jwaideh detention center.

 

Maria said that she left the family that she had been working for following ill-treatment where she was forced to work from six in the morning until midnight. Her passport had been confiscated in order to force her into working these hours.

 

According to Maria, a lawyer was not appointed to defend her during the initial stages of the investigation and she was not asked whether she wanted legal representation or an interpreter. It was confirmed that she signed onto her testimony without being able to understand what had been written because she was unable to read the Arabic script.

 

Workers administratively detained in Jwaideh described their conditions as “difficult.” In particular it was described that about 20 inmates were kept in a single cell and it was not permitted for them to acquisition even one piece of clothing. In addition to that, the inmates were provided with only two pieces of soap for the duration of their stay. In the case of running out, they were forced to purchase them from the canteen know as the “cafeteria.”

 

Inmates said that the field team did not provide for any of their feminine hygiene needs, and they were forced to buy these supplies as well from the “cafeteria.” Those who did not have the money had to tear their clothing and use that instead.

 

Inmates also face difficulty in accessing health care. Communicating about health issues to those in charge of the center has proved especially difficult. One injured inmate held at the detention center was found to be in the final stages of cancer. Her disease was detected entirely by accident.

 

The “Dignity” team from the National Center for Human Rights was allowed to carry out unannounced visits to correctional and rehabilitation centers in order to monitor the real state of conditions inside. The Public Security Directorate confirmed that it has been systematically working to reform the prison environment for nearly 7 years.

 

The Governor’s Powers

The administrative governor has the power to arrest and detain migrant workers whose residency or work permits are set to expire until they meet certain requirements or return to their countries. This is in accordance with the controversial Crime Prevention Law, applicable in Jordan since 1952, which grants the administrative governor and the power to arrest without restrictions.

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The number of administrative detainees during the past year reached 20,216, including the 2,304 female detainees who make up about 11% of the total, according to statistics issued by the Correction and Rehabilitation Centers Directorate.

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The precise number of non-Jordanian administrative detainees is not known. The Geneva-based Global Detention Project recently criticized Jordan for the absence of these statistics and called on Jordan to provide them.

 

But even so long as the National Center for Human Rights, an independent quasi-governmental institution, demands in its annual reports for either the abolition or modification of the Crime Prevention Law, the law continues to contribute to the suspension of freedoms for individuals who are detained for long periods of time without being brought to trial. As documented by the center, some inmates were detained for up to a decade.

 

The center asserts in its report for the year 2013 that foreign administrative detainees are the group that is most vulnerable to long detention in accordance with the Crime Prevention Law. This is the result of their inability to afford bail, delays in deportation proceedings or the severance of detention orders. As described by the report, they are also a group that contributes to the overcrowding and increased unrest in reform and rehabilitation centers.

 

Incomplete Security Investigations

The former director of the Correction and Rehabilitation Centers Directorate, Hussein Al Troanh, said that the Crime Prevention Law gives a detainee the right to know his or her charge before the seizure of the detainee’s freedom. He underlined that the law gives the detainee the right to be fully investigated and granted full knowledge of both his charge and the financial value of his bail before being incarcerated.

 

Al Troanh, who was also previously director of the Legal Affairs Department in the Public Security Directorate, after being asked about the reasons for failing to identify potential victims of human trafficking before, or even after, they are administratively detained, confirmed that some administrative behaviors may violate the Crime Prevention Act.

 

According to their latest report, the National Center for Human Rights indicates that some administrative governors violate the right to due process and do not allow the presence of lawyers in the initial investigative stage, prior to the administrative detention of suspects.

 

Former government spokesperson and director of International Institute for Women’s Solidarity, Asma Khadr emphasized the right of foreign domestic workers who are detained to defend themselves, through the provision of both a lawyer and an interpreter, especially in the early stages of the investigation.

 

“Investigations must cover all aspects and must ask questions about working conditions when investigating the category of immigrant labor, which may reveal that they are victims of human trafficking,” said Khadr. She called, also, for the need to review the legislation governing the labor market in Jordan in order to protect this exploited category of workers.

 

Networking and Follow-up

The anti-trafficking unit for the Public Security Directorate asserts that it previously received information from civic institutions or from prison authorities about administratively detained workers and pursued a court ruling on whether they were potential victims of human trafficking.

 

With that in mind, the unit director Ahmad Al Zabi, indicates that not all detentions are permissible. If an employer delayed in delivering a worker’s salary, then this may be an indicator, in his opinion, that the worker was a victim of human trafficking. However, he stressed the need for a range of indicators to consider potential victims and he pointed out that the final judgement in these cases goes back to the courts.

 

Administrative detainees who are suspected of being victims of human trafficking are held in specially qualified facilities, according to Al Zabi.

 

A major barrier to making complaints is the high cost of access to justice. Sometimes, this is what causes workers to remain in administrative detention. However, some civic institutions may provide legal services for those who fall into this category. One recently helped Egyptian workers obtain compensation, an action that was considered a judicial precedent.

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Some emigrant workers complain about negligence on the part of their embassies in following up on their cases, as was recorded in the report by the National Center for Human Rights on the special status of correctional and rehabilitation centers. However, other embassies provided services that were described as good. For example, the Embassy of the Philippines introduced an office specialist to follow up on its nationals working in the country and set up a center for domestic workers.

 

To avoid the complexities of legal battles and the lengthy detentions that victims are forced to endure, it is essential that full information regarding whether detainees are victims of human trafficking be obtained in the initial phases of these investigations. It is not logical that a victim who has committed a minor infraction should be behind bars while one who has committed the crime of human trafficking should be a free man.

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