PRI’s International Conference on ‘Criminal Justice Reform and Human Rights: Recent Trends’ opened today (3 November) in Amman under the patronage of His Majesty King Abdullah II Ibn Alhussein of Jordan.
The two day conference is organised by Penal Reform International (MENA) in collaboration with the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Public Security Department / Correctional and Rehabilitation Department of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, sponsored by the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) and the European Union.
More than 100 international representatives participated in the event, including human rights activists and experts, government officials, heads of prisons, Islamic scholars, journalists, as well as representatives of the United Nations, the European Commission, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the League of Arab States.
The conference aims to generate a platform for in-depth discussion between international experts, decision and policy-makers on the international and regional standards on administration of justice and human rights which have been developed during the past 10 years, as well as highlighting the best practices that have been adopted at the local level to comply with these trends. The conference includes specialised sessions and workshops to discuss the rights of vulnerable groups and their treatment within the criminal justice system including women, children and people with disabilities.
In her opening statement Ms Taghreed Jaber, the Regional Director of Penal Reform International’s MENA office, stated that this international conference is an opportunity for the exchange of knowledge and experience in the area of criminal justice reform. She confirmed that it was necessary to now move from theory to practice, to encourage government agencies and officials and urge them to take further reforms in this area, to accelerate the application of international standards and localisation of international laws and treaties, and to provide support and training to criminal justice institutions and their staff on best practices of these standards.
Ms. Jaber stressed the need to focus on the protection of vulnerable groups in prisons, such as women, including pregnant women and women with children, persons with disabilities, and children in conflict with the law and to ensure that specific international human rights standards in relation to these groups are also fully respected in the region’s prison systems. This comes in the framework of PRI’s regional project ‘Towards a Humanistic based approach in the management of prisons: Protecting the rights of vulnerable groups’.
In his welcoming speech, the Director of the Public Security Department (PSD), Lt. General Tawfik Hamid Tawalbeh said that justice is a guarantor of freedom, lives, and dignities, and confirmed that the role of the Public Security Directorate focuses on the parameters established by the Hashemites, whose objective is to provide an environment that embraces the human being, realises their dignity, and ensures development for individuals and society. His Excellency confirmed that the Public Security Department represented by the Correctional and Rehabilitation Centers, has adopted a policy which aims for the rehabilitation of inmates and his/her reintegration into society in the most efficient and effective manner.
Lt. Tawalbeh also added that in the efforts for consolidating the rule of law and protection of human rights, Jordan has ratified most international agreements, treaties, and declarations on human rights in order to enhance security, stability and respect for human rights in the Kingdom.
Other speakers today included: Mrs Helena Rietz, Ambassador of Sweden to Jordan; Prince Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights; Dr. Bassam Talhouni, Minister of Justice deputising for His Majesty King Abdullah; Dr Abdel Majeed Zaalani, Vice Chairman of the Human Rights Committee at the League of Arab States; Ambassador Adisak Panupong, Executive Director of Thailand Institute of Justice; Ms Amal AL Doseri, Vice-Chairperson, UN Committee On The Rights Of The Child and many more. Download the conference brochure here.
The conference continues tomorrow with a focus on rehabilitation, alternatives to imprisonment and identifying priorities for and challenges to reform in the MENA region – follow on Twitter @penalreformint #CJRHR