2- The State of Prisons in Lebanon

The State of Prisons in Lebanon

A disgrace and dark record of Lebanon in the field of human rights


     Over the years Lebanese and International Human Rights NGOs have repeatedly reported that Lebanese prisons do not meet the minimum international standards.  The prisons are a disgrace and dark record of Lebanon in the field of human rights.  They are badly managed and severely neglected.  They are packed to twice their capacity; the actual capacity of Lebanon's prisons is around 3600 inmates, currently detaining more than 5300 prisoners.  The prisoners are detained in cruel and inhumane conditions.  An important number of inmates constitute cases of arbitrary detention, detained for excessive periods of time pending trial.  Numerous illegal migrants, asylum seekers and refugees often spend months languishing in cells past their release due date.  On top of all these conditions, there are many reported cases of death, use of torture and ill-treatment in prisons.

     These problems are regularly brought to the attention of the Lebanese authorities by the concerned NGOs during their works on individual cases. These organizations feel the urgent need to assess the global situation on the issue of detention in Lebanon and to find solutions to the problems.  The reports of these organizations about the prisons in Lebanon are useful not only to their works, but also and foremost to the state authorities, as well as to the institutions whose works are more or less related to prisons.

     Although there is a broad consensus in Lebanon about the description of the miserable prison conditions, until now there is no serious formal approach to address this issue.  The Lebanese Government is failing in its obligations and its responsibility to find an adequate solution to the above mentioned problems and to improve the detention conditions in prisons. The Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights which is supposed to have a monitoring role and legislative is failing to turn up for work and to make an effective approach to the issue of prisons despite the fact that from time to time members of the Committee visit a number of Lebanese prisons, and after the visit, they are out to public through media flashes by giving information about the miserable and inhuman conditions in prisons and the need to develop emergency plans for treatment.

     The issue of Lebanon’s prisons should be a priority for the Lebanese government, not only for its humanitarian importance and because it makes a staggering blow to prisons and to the Lebanese community in general, but because it shows as if the Lebanese government is unwilling to fulfill its international obligations concerning human rights.  The Lebanese government has to address the issue and find real and concrete solutions to all related problems.  However, as a first step it has to accelerate without delay in the formation of the national preventive mechanism to monitor prisons and to start the serious treatment.