HRW calls on Jordan to end imprisonment for debt

Cairo, May 8 (Latest) .- The organization Human Rights Watch (HRW) asked the Jordanian authorities this Sunday to commit to ending imprisonment for debts before the current moratorium expires in June 2022, given that Jordan it is one of the few countries in the world that still jails people for defaulting on their payments.

“As of April 1, at least 148,000 people are wanted to serve prison sentences for not paying their debts, according to the Ministry of Justice,” says HRW in a statement, adding that they have documented how, “in the absence of a network adequate social security, tens of thousands of Jordanians took out loans to cover basic needs only to end up in prison or wanted for defaulting on debts.

On March 28, 2021, in response to pressure to end imprisonment for debt, Jordanian Prime Minister Bisher Khasawneh issued a moratorium on arresting people solely for non-payment of debt, but the moratorium ends in June.

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“By allowing imprisonment for debt, Jordan puts tens of thousands of people at risk of being sent to prison and not for any crime, but for borrowing to cover basic needs like rent, food or medical treatment,” he said. in the statement the Middle East researcher for HRW, Sara Kayyali.

While the amendments proposed over the past two years are a “significant improvement” and reflect a greater balance in addressing debt default, they fall short of unconditionally ending imprisonment for it, HRW said.

“Imprisonment for debt is a clear violation of international human rights obligations and Jordan should end this practice immediately,” according to the NGO.

The crisis in Jordan has been exacerbated since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, given that the Arab country was the strictest in the Middle East region in applying health policies.

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