(MENAFN - Jordan Times) The committee entrusted with investigating abuses in care centres on Wednesday referred the file of the SOS Children's Village Association of Jordan to the prosecutor general, citing "criminal" abuses that were "deliberately" hidden and ignored by the SOS administration.
SOS conducted a study on the situation of its homes in 2011, which showed cases of sexual abuse, violence and negligence inside the houses, but the report was suppressed and no legal action was taken regarding its findings, according to the committee's spokesperson, Rakan Saideh.
"Some of the abuses are new and some of them were committed and recorded in the SOS report itself" which was difficult to access as there were attempts by the administration to hide it," he told The Jordan Times on Wednesday.
The committee's report, which was referred to the social development ministry on Wednesday, listed violations that require immediate intervention, Saideh stressed.
Minister of Social Development Wajih Azaizeh told The Jordan Times that he would examine the report personally, but would not confirm that it was referred to the prosecutor general, saying that the details surrounding the report would be unveiled at the "appropriate time".
He noted that the ministry is committed to applying all the committee's recommendations.
The probe committee, which includes legal, forensic and human rights experts, held the ministry responsible for not following up on the SOS report last year and for the lack of overall supervision of the children in the villages and youth houses.
Saideh noted that the panel had discovered that a bylaw on the licensing and management of care centres, issued by Royal Decree in 2009, mandated that a steering committee be formed to monitor these centres.
"The committee, which is presided over by the social development ministry secretary general and includes representatives from the ministries of health, education, awqaf and interior, in addition to NGOs, has not met one single time since 2009," he said, holding the ministry's secretary general accountable for this.
The spokesperson highlighted that the SOS report included hundreds of testimonies from employees and beneficiaries that showed "flagrant" cases of abuse.
"We were surprised that none of these cases were followed up on by the administration and no legal action whatsoever was taken against any of the violators, except for verbal warnings against those responsible, which were never documented," Saideh said.
The committee also discovered that the children in the villages receive small amounts of money to live on, he added.
"Each child in the village receives JD1.5 a day to eat" I was hoping to find any of them eating chocolate or a banana or even playing with a toy," the panel spokesperson stated, adding that deprivation and ill-treatment had caused aggressive behaviour among a number of the villages' beneficiaries, who are mostly children under 18 years of age.
There are currently 350 children living in the association's three villages in Amman, Irbid and Aqaba.
The probe committee recommended a special education programme to modify the behaviour of children with violent tendencies and establishing liaison offices to follow up on the situation of graduates.
It also called for girls to remain at the villages until they turn 18 and for civil and military institutions to employ beneficiaries after they leave.
"We also called for initiating a national mechanism for inspection campaigns in the villages' houses and increasing the number of staff," Saideh said, noting that each "mother" in the villages is responsible for nine children, which is "too many" for them to deal with.
Last month, the British Broadcasting Corporation aired a documentary depicting children in private special education centres being subjected to systematic violence.
His Majesty King Abdullah paid surprise visits to several private centres following the documentary and asked the government to investigate all facilities providing services to people with disabilities and hold accountable every person involved in the violations.
To this end, the social development ministry formed a committee to investigate the alleged violations and is continuing to examine the situation of orphans and disability care centres across Jordan.