Despite differences, Jordanian and Danish lawyers exchange knowledge

By Clara Simonsen Tørsleff

Five Danish legal experts visited Jordan in mid-April to discuss a new manual for Jordanian defense lawyers and participate in trainings for lawyers and prosecutors with the aim of reducing the use of pre-trial detention in Jordan.

Both Jordan and Denmark struggle with high numbers of pre-trial detainees, and have for a longer period exchanged knowledge and experience amongst lawyers, judges and prosecutors from the two countries.

The Danish defense lawyers Asger Bagge-Jørgensen and Peter Kragh took part in the visit, organized and supported by DIGNITY and the Jordanian Ministry of Justice. Together they represented the Danish Criminal Committee within the Danish Bar Association, and gave their input to the new manual from a Danish perspective. Additionally, they made a roleplay for their Jordanian colleagues to demonstrate how a criminal case is handled from the time of arrest in the Danish legal system, and how the Danish lawyer proceed with their clients.
We had the chance to ask the two experienced lawyers a couple of questions regarding the cooperation between Danish and Jordanian lawyers:

As Danish lawyers, what does it give you to pay a visit like this to Jordan?

It is very instructive to get an insight into how other legal systems work. Basically, it is the same fundamental considerations that must be balanced and handled in practice, and a visit like this naturally implies reflections on the Danish way of doing things. Additional, we sense equal respect and interest from our Jordanian colleagues.

What is for you the most important issue in this dialogue between lawyers in Jordan and Denmark?

An active role for a lawyer helps securing external monitoring on imprisonment, contact between detainee and family, independent insight and thus control of the work of the police and court. It is about acknowledging that the lawyer actually has an impact, both in the individual case, but also structurally – as a guarantee that mistakes and weak evidences will be discovered. A visit from foreign lawyers can support and confirm the importance of the work you do as a lawyer.

Can you compare the judicial system in Jordan and Denmark – how / how not?

There is no doubt that our systems are very different. Therefore, it is also important to focus on the core of the task as a lawyer in the individual case, namely to safeguard the client’s rights.

According to you, why is it so important to focus on the use of pre-trial detention? – Where are Denmark and Jordan regarding the use of pre-trial detention based on your assessment – are we on the right track?

It is always important to focus on pre-trial detention. It is a physical deprivation of the right to freedom which should only take place if it is very well justified – and furthermore as gentle and as short as possible. These points are universal, and it is healthy to continuously consider whether improvements can be made. This applies to both Jordan and Denmark, and just the fact that they in Jordan are inviting Danish defense lawyers, amongst others, show us that they definitely are not stuck in some old patterns.