Al-Araby investigates the reality of Lebanese prisons…poor conditions and reports of torture

A beautiful sunset

Looks like jail Lebanon Today it is a microcosm of the state of the Lebanese state, as political fragility is reflected in it and economic reality Difficult. And between these two scenes, the citizen remains hostage to this tragic reality inside and outside the prison.

Without the state doing anything, prisons witness frequent escapes, dangerous sanitary conditions, prisoners without trials, evidence of torture during investigations, deaths of prisoners in mysterious circumstances, allegations and investigations with security personnel.

And of escape case This was recorded on the morning of Sunday August 7, 2022, when the capital, Beirut, woke up to news of a major escape carried out by 31 prisoners from the cell located near the General Security building under the Adliya Bridge.

At that time, she revealed the details of what happened, as if the prisoners had escaped from a place without any surveillance.

Another escape case was recorded two months later, when 9 detainees managed to escape from a Lebanese army prison in the Ramlet Al-Baida area.

The scene that day brought to mind the story of an escape from Baabda prison on November 21, 2020, in which the question of what happened and who bears responsibility remained unanswered.

That day, a large group of detainees escaped after a clash with security forces. After chasing a number of them through the streets of the capital, Beirut, five of the escapees were killed in a traffic accident.

During his appearance on the program “Eye of the Place”, retired Brigadier General of the Internal Security Forces, Naji Malaeb, explains that “the first thing that a prisoner thinks of, who stays in prison for a long time without being pursued is to escape.”

He points out that the prisoner in this case tends to monitor the shifts of the guards, and the guards whose physical structure does not help them to resist, and plans with his colleagues to escape, because he takes advantage of the opportunities and takes advantage lack of sufficient military personnel.

For his part, journalist Rami Naim recalls that members of the police station carry out many tasks that must be performed during their service, which is done to the detriment of the surveillance and protection of detainees.

“They fled and we put them back in jail.”

Moreover, a prisoner’s mother recalls the day when she received the news of the escape of prisoners, including her son, from Baabda prison, when she immediately went to the prison and to other mothers.

She says that her daughter then called her to inform her that members of the Intelligence Service of the Internal Security Forces had arrived at her house to find her brother.

She reveals that she went straight home, and answered the question about his whereabouts by saying that “she has no knowledge”, and that she is the one who should ask the question to find out where he is. finds after she hands it over. to the state, for which it is responsible.

And remember she advised her son to surrender, and he agreed with her after thinking, as he said: Should I stay on the run for the rest of my life?

The mother of another detainee says she collapsed when she learned that her son had escaped, and hastened to bring him back to prison. She says that he did not oppose her, but he complained to her about the poor conditions of his imprisonment.

The cases of escape are accompanied by the unsanitary and unsuitable conditions in which detainees live in Lebanon, and push them to seek a means of escape.

A report by the International Committee of the Red Cross concluded that most Lebanese prisons lack important elements, making them fall short of international standards.

The reality of prisons

Former Lebanese Interior Minister Marwan Charbel says there are about 22 prisons in Lebanon, but 90% of them need to be demolished and rebuilt.

He mentions that the prison is in reform, which requires the existence of a modern building and that the prisoner has a job to support his family if he is detained for a long time.

He stresses that prisoners cannot be crammed into a place that is shameful to call a prison, calling the state of prisons in Lebanon “firm”.

And Charbel, who tells “Ain Al-Makan” the story of the escape of prisoners from Baabda prison and what was said about it, confirms that no soldier escapes a prisoner, to enter the jail instead.

Furthermore, lawyer Diala Shehadeh points out that the problem of Lebanese prisons precedes the economic crisis and the collapse of the Lebanese currency.

And it is mentioned that it embraces more than 3 times the absorptive capacity, and the main reason is the gaps in the state budget, or at least what the government claims are gaps in its budget, in terms of concerns the development, improvement and expansion of these prisons.

delayed trials

She believes the problem is also linked to the performance of many judges who hear criminal cases. In terms of non-activation of articles of the criminal procedure code, in particular article 108.

She explains that the latter allows the judge to have the right to release people arrested for an offense or a crime, and gives the right to people arrested for an offense or a crime to set a maximum limit to their preventive detention.

For his part, the journalist Georges Chahine considers that “the prison crisis in Lebanon is real from several angles: economic-financial, security, and social-human.

According to Shaheen, the investigations proved the existence of complicity with the military in the escape operations in exchange for financial compensation, that is to say brokerage.

He recalls that in democratic countries that respect human rights, prisons are not under the guard of security forces, but rather of judges and social affairs experts. Sometimes the innocent or the one who has committed a crime does not come out of prison as a real criminal. after two or three years.

“No bed and we buy water”

Regarding the humanitarian conditions, the mother of one of the prisoners says that her son sleeps on a blanket in the absence of a mattress.

And while she says that the family is forbidden to get it for her, she specifies that she must transfer a sum of money to get one for him in prison. She talks about his suffering from more than one health issue, pointing out that no one cares about the matter in prison, so he travels to see a doctor.

During a telephone conversation with “on the spot”, one of the prisoners clearly explained the conditions of detention, which lack minimum human standards. He pointed out that health care has become impossible and traveling to a hospital requires a fee before examining the patient.

Another inmate confirmed that inmates buy bottled water from the store, speaking of both the spread of scabies and allergies with the lack of hygiene.

Criminologist Pamela Hanina stresses the importance that criminologists attach to the food an inmate receives, as it helps him to develop intellectually and mentally.

He stresses the need for the food provided to include all foods that provide the prisoner with the energy needed to complete his day and ensure his mental well-being.

On the other hand, she points out that some of the prisoners cannot see their families on a regular basis, noting the extent of the impact on their psyche.

It indicates their need for family support to survive inside the prison, which must mainly take into account the issue of rehabilitation within it and social reintegration after release.

For his part, lawyer Muhammad Sablouh affirms that prisons in Lebanon are on the verge of exploding, “in view of the sleeping consciences of officials in Lebanon who do not wake up”, stressing that “the treatment of prisoners is very bad “.

He evokes what the prisons suffer from in terms of food and health, recalling that the Ministry of the Interior or Defense was obliged to treat the prisoner and refer him to the hospital.

He speaks of the absence of any field hospital for emergency cases in Roumieh prison, which is the largest in Lebanon, and which originally housed 1,500 prisoners, and currently houses 4,000 prisoners.

He recalls the decree published in 1968 which assigned the Ministry of Justice the management of prisons in Lebanon, but indicates that it is still under the direction of the Ministries of Interior and Defense to this day.

Torture in Lebanese prisons

Moreover, systematic torture is considered one of the major crises experienced by prisons in Lebanon.

According to the Lebanese Human Rights Commission, more than 80% of detainees in Lebanese prisons suffer torture in all its forms. There are approximately 43% of female prisoners who have been tortured inside detention centers.

While these practices were of great concern to human rights centers, on November 16, 2021, they prompted the Prisoners’ Rights Center of the Tripoli and Northern Bar Association to activate a torture complaint against the former Defense Minister Elias al-Murr in Switzerland.

The complaint, which included a number of live testimonies from torture victims in Lebanon, is based on tracking dozens of cases of torture during al-Murr’s tenure as defense ministry, knowing that since 2013 , he holds the position of head of the Interpol Foundation for a safer world.

“On the Spot” features the testimony of the mother of a prisoner who said he was tortured at al-Qobbeh prison. What did she say about the conditions of his incarceration and what he went through, and why did other mothers express remorse at sending their children back to prison after escaping? Answers and more in the attached episode.


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