The Karama Programme
Aims at eliminating the use of torture and other forms of ill-treatment in places of detention in Jordan.
Karama is a national anti-torture programme which was launched in 2008. Karama means dignity in Arabic, and the programme is inspired by a co-responsibility approach where state institutions, semi state institutions and CSOs cooperate to achieve the common goal; to eliminate the use of torture and other forms of ill-treatment. This objective is pursued through various preventing projects such as the continuous work to; reduce the use of pre-trial detention, awareness raising, and support lawyers’ work on cases of torture and assistance to prosecute perpetrators of torture.
Projects in this programme
- State Dialogues on Compliance
- Documenting Human Rights Violations
The Jordanian partners of the Karama programme are the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), the National Center for Human Rights (NCHR) and Mizan for Law (Mizan). DIGNITY has different activities with every partner to achieve a common goal, namely to fulfil the international obligations of Jordan to prevent and eliminate torture, as stipulated in the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT) that Jordan ratified in and published in the official gazette in 2006.
‘Documenting Human Rights Violations’ is a project where DIGNITY works with Mizan, a non-governmental organisation, on strengthening lawyers’ work on cases of torture among other issues. Mizan offers legal assistance to survivors of torture and work more broadly on promoting an efficient and fair legal system in Jordan. Moreover, Mizan has published educational manuals for lawyers and various relevant publications, including a draft on amendments to the Crime Prevention Law; studies on the State Security Court and a study on fair trial guarantees. Furthermore, Mizan has organized trainings for hundreds of key relevant professional groups.
The work with NCHR is under the ‘State Dialogue on Compliance’ project. DIGNITY in the past supported capacity building to professionals under the umbrella of NCHR to do monitoring of places of detention in order to prevent torture and ill-treatment and improve conditions of detention places. In 2015 NCHR published its first periodic report and then later in 2017 their second periodic report was out. DIGNITY now supports NCHR to carry out awareness raising sessions around the Kingdom on the citizens’ legal rights related to basic legal safeguard and rights when in detention and specifically on the UNCAT.
In partnership with MoJ, DIGNITY is working to enlarge the dialogue with the state about the prevention of torture in the legal system. This dialogue is established through an ongoing cooperation between the Danish Prosecution office, DIGNITY, MoJ and the Jordanian Public Prosecution office. The partnership includes the development of guidelines on investigating cases of torture and reduction of pretrial detention as well as trainings for judges and prosecutors on those guidelines. The cooperation also includes dialogue about law amendments to improve the rule of law in Jordan, e.g. Article 208 of the Penal Code which criminalizes torture. The partnership has also lead to two international conferences at the Dead Sea (June 2013 and June 2015).
Questions about this programme contact Country Director, Alexandre Adam
The first phase of the Karama programme began in 2008 when DIGNITY started working in Jordan. This was following the UN Human Rights Council published their first report of ‘the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment’ after a visit in 2006 that took place in agreement with the Jordanian state. Since then, the Karama programme has expanded and by 2017 the Karama programme entered its fourth phase – continuing its work on the main goal to eliminate torture and ill-treatment in Jordan.
Jordan is a constitutional monarchy with the government, the parliament and the King. Jordan has borders to Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the West Bank (Palestine/Israel), which makes Jordan more or less surrounded by war and conflict zones. Nonetheless, Jordan is being considered as the most (or one of the most) stable and safe country in the region per the latest Gallup index.
With the surrounding countries, Jordan is facing a general threat of terror which pressures the military and makes safety and stability a top priority in state politics. On many levels the state has succeeded to keep terrorism out of the country. Despite this, Jordan also prioritise to work on human rights, however, the space for that is being limited by security concerns. Jordan still has a long way to go to obtain international standards but the status of human rights is in some areas slowly moving forward.
For example, in the summer of 2017, the Jordanian government abolished the infamous Article 308, which allowed rapists to marry their victims to avoid punishment and the state is as well committing to combat torture.
Furthermore, Jordan’s capacity is challenged and the living standards have aggravated as a consequence of the huge influx of refugees. 2,175,491 Palestinians are registered refugees in Jordan and around 1,4 million Syrian refugees have entered Jordan since 2011.
The Karama programme is funded by the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs under the Danish Arab Partnership Programme (DAPP) and implemented within the framework of the bilateral agreement between Jordan and Denmark. DIGNITY – Danish Institute against Torture, the Danish Prosecution Authority, and the Danish Bar Association provide technical input to the Karama Programme.
The Karama Programme is inspired by the Human Rights Based Approach (HRBA), where state institutions (duty-bearers) and civil society organizations (rights-holders) cooperate to achieve a common goal. In addition, the programme is designed in participatory approach by working on a unified theory of change to access justice for victims of torture in Jordan and from this theory building a following logical framework.
Mizan for Law
Special Procedural Manual to Redress Victims of Torture – Dr. Mohammad AlMusa
Rights and Guarantees of the Defendant Prior to Trial Dr. Motasem Mosha’sha’
State Security Court Study
The case of Othman (Abu Qatada) against UK
Torture in the Middle East: The Law and Practice – 2013, jointly done with Redress English
Shouting Through the Walls: Discriminatory Torture and Ill-treatment English | Arabic
Results so far
Over the last decade, the Karama programme has contributed to generating debate in Jordan about the prohibition of torture and ill-treatment and about strategies for how to combat and prevent torture. The Karama programme has enhanced awareness of the need for legislation and policy reforms in order for Jordan’s criminal justice system to function in line with international human rights law obligations.
Examples of specific results of the programme:
- Article 8 of the Jordanian Constitution now prohibits torture and the use of evidence obtained by torture. Moreover, a specialized anti-torture law has been proposed by Mizan
- During the Karama programme, public prosecutors have begun to investigate allegations of torture and register the cases in an electronic national central registry before sending them to the Police court.
- Guidelines to investigate allegations of torture and reduce the use of pre-trial detention have been prepared for judges and public prosecutors in cooperation with MoJ
- An electronic Case Management System in courts has been enhanced in order to classify crimes and get reminded weather pre-trial detention is suitable for the suspect. This is just one of the means that have successfully helped reducing the use of pre-trial detention
- Capacities of key professional groups, including lawyers and doctors, have been strengthened during the programme so that allegations of torture are now better documented and reported
- Mizan has established a network of lawyers who litigate cases of torture and ill-treatment to seek justice and compensation for the victims.
- Mizan has published various relevant publications, including a study on the State Security Court, a handbook on redress for victims of torture and ill-treatment in Jordan, and a study on “The rights and guarantees of the defendant prior to trial”
- Jordanian State has published their first governmental report to the UN Committee against Torture (CAT) and both Mizan and NCHR have submitted their first shadow report for Jordan to the CAT
- The NCHR has established a National Monitoring Team with the purpose of undertaking preventive monitoring of places of detention, including Correction and Rehabilitation Centers (CRCs) and police stations
- NMT has published two periodic reports in 2015 and 2017 on conditions at CRCs in the Kingdom
- NCHR has established a National Coalition to combat torture (composed of organisations from all governorates) with a view to raise awareness of the rights under the UNCAT
- Knowledge, culture, and experience exchange between Jordanian and Danish professionals and medical and legal students.
- DIGNITY with support from Mizan and NCHR launched a study on ´Conditions for Women in Detention in Jordan: Needs, vulnerabilities and good practices’
- DIGNITY supported the establishment of the Jordanian Civil Alliance against Torture that now has submitted shadow reports to different UN committees and under the different UN mechanisms