Beatings and bastinado: life in a Jordanian prison

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The Independent Online

For four consecutive days they suffered severe beatings, often on the soles of their feet while suspended upside down with hands and feet tied, a technique known as bastinado. One of the men was threatened with sexual abuse and electric shock torture. "I couldn't bear it any longer ... even if I were an animal I wouldn't put up with it," the former prisoner told Amnesty.

Human rights abuses, including torture and ill-treatment of prisoners, are rife in the countries to which the 10 detainees will eventually be deported if the Government succeeds in sending them home. Jordan, one of the most common destinations for individuals transferred by the United States for "extraordinary rendition", has a dismal human rights record.

The National Centre for Human Rights (NCHR) received more than 250 complaints last year, alleging torture or ill-treatment of prisoners - the majority of which, says Amnesty, were made by people being held on terrorism charges.

Jordan's State Security Court, where scores of suspects are tried each year, cannot guarantee a fair trial, according to Amnesty, and in at least six cases last year, defendants alleged that their "confessions" had been extracted by torture. One man, Abdallah al-Mashaqbeh, is reported to have died while in custody at Jweideh prison. A government-funded report found he had been abused by prison staff - and that beatings were common practice in Jordanian jails.

Systematic torture of all kinds is also rife in Algeria, particularly, say human rights groups, in cases involving suspected terrorists. A Home Office report published in 2004 provides a list of methods used to obtain "confessions", including attempted strangulation, burning with cigarette butts and electric shocks. A speciality is the "chiffon" method, where a rag is stuffed in the mouth, and litres of contaminated water, bleach, urine or other chemicals are poured through the rag directly into the stomach. The torturers then kick his stomach, causing him to vomit violently.

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