lebanese prisonsLebanese Prisons are Neighbourhood Graves, Roumieh: A Model Prison of Torture
The problem within Lebanese prisons began with the advent of prisons adopted within the premises of the official institutions. In this setting, the prison had spaces too narrow to accommodate the number of prisoners, and lacked adequate health conditions
Roumieh is the central prison in Lebanon, housing convicts and detainees, which holds a capacity for 1,500 prisoners, while the prison houses 5,500 prisoners, and each room does not hold space for more than 3 people; however, Roumieh places 7 to 8 people per room causing cramped conditions for prisoners.
The buildings in Roumieh prison consist of old dilapidated buildings, the building units are named “D” and “B”.
Prison overcrowding is severe, resulting from a slow pace of trials and the presence of large numbers of detainees awaiting trial because of the slow litigation process. These events are contrary to the Declaration of Human Rights, which requires adequate detention for all prisoners.
Within these prisons there is a deterioration of health due to psychological and social conditions. As a result, prisoners suffer from a lack of health services, the absence of psychosocial services, and overcrowded units. According to prisoner testimonies, the level of medical care in prison is insufficient, only two civilian doctors and one military doctor exist. Unfortunately, access to these doctors is limited even if the condition is critical.
Prisoners are mistreated by prison staff because the employees are not specialists and do not understand the requisite procedures and mechanisms in dealing with prisoners. One of the most serious problems facing Roumieh prison is the widespread drug usage within the prison, this issue raises serious questions regarding how prisons have the entry or sale of drugs, sleeping pills, and other agents that result in hallucinogenic prisoners. In addition, the report states forty prisoners died in prison, and causes of death account to "cardiac arrest". Unfortunately, the cause of these deaths did not warrant an investigation.
The deceased prisoners: A.S, M.S, N.O sentenced to five years in Roumieh, died after being transferred to the Medical Center in prison without the knowledge of causes.
This data led to the insurgencies in Roumieh prison:
* Summer 2007: After the outbreak of the battle of Nahr el-Bared, there have been clashes between Fatah al-Islam prisoners, prison guards, and some Islamist prisoners.
* April 24, 2008: A repeated scene of the rebellion, prisoners held some prison guards hostage and threatened to kill them. The prisoners justified their actions as an attempt to put pressure on the prison administration to answer demands to alleviate the congestion within the prison. The transfer of prisoner Y.S on May 2 to Halba was a punishment for the revolt
* March 10, 2009: A revolt in prison inmates Roumieh No. 3 where a spiral effect of inmates within a unit. Prisoners protested against the lack of air in their cells and set fire to their belongings which resulted in the defeat of the prisoner insurgency with nine wounded prisoners of the protesters.
All movements were suppressed and resulted in deaths and injuries.
On April 2, 2011, the largest and deadliest prisoner rebellions occurred in which prisoners began uprising. Roumieh prisoners protested the causes of physical, psychological, and social conditions.
Unfortunate consequences of protesting prisoner deaths and critical conditions. For example, the oldest of three young inmates at Roumieh’s central section wing "B", body had been attacked by sharp machines and was taken to Daher Al Bachek hospital for treatment and four prisoners died: R.A, J.A, N.D, and H.Z.
A.H, the mother of the victim and prisoner, J.A. He was a diabetes patient who entered prison as a result of a traffic accident. His car ran over a man who died, and relatives required 10 million Lebanese liras for the family of the victim. Due to difficult material situation and his inability to secure the requisite amount, he was imprisoned. She was on permanent medication for diabetes; his mother was cleaning homes to provide medication for him in prison. The events that took place in prison consisted of tear gas, a potential lethal smoke caused the immediate need for J.A medication and according to other prisoner testimonies his medication was not provided to him for 3 days prior to his death. Moreover, he has a two year old child who lives with his grandmother because of the divorce between the parents.
* R.A died after the explosion of a stun grenade in his hands was not detonated, and the question arises: how did the prisoners acquire weapons while they were in prison?
* N.D died from burns after the raid from the military use of rubber bullets.
* H.Z, an asthma patient, died in the building of the detainees (b) from asphyxiation due to smoke bombs and tear gas used by security forces.
Roumieh is not the first nor the last prisoner uprising as long as the official response remains slow and limited for this humanitarian issue to not be a priority for the government.
These events that have forced Roumieh prisoners to act through uprisings are a crime against humanity. This crime includes minimum standards for the treatment of prisoners and concerned authorities dealing with the issue in an inhumane manner. Detainees in Roumieh prisons and other prisons are human beings with rights, dignity and feelings, and it is required to form a committee from the Ministry of Health, Justice, Social Affairs and the Interior to determine the demands of the prisoners.. The health situation is dangerous for the prisoners and the Roumieh uprisings will continue and spread to other prisons as long as there is a slowed process or lack of trials, impunity, and a continued ignorance of prisoner demands.
It is noted, on May 8, 2011, when the Lebanese Parliament in its legislative session on August 4, 2011 killed the Prison Reduction Act in which prison terms for 12 months would be reduced to 9 months, the prisoners announced a hunger strike and prisoner M.Z died on July 8, 2011
The Human Rights Council's demands this humanitarian issue is one of importance. In addition, HRC reminded the Lebanese government to speed up the formation of the national preventive mechanism to prevent torture committed to signing the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture, to send a mission to investigate the massacre carried out against prisoners on April 2, 2011, and apply the minimum rules for the treatment of prisoners.