Khiam Center Report on June 26 Activities in 2009In the context of the activities organized by IRCT, the International Council for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Torture, the United Nations and humanitarian organizations, and on the occasion of June 26, the United Nations Day in Support of Victims of Torture, Khiam Rehabilitation Center for Victims of Torture (KRC) has organized different activities for several days.
The invitation for these activities has been announced through a press conference for the KRC Secretary General Mr. Mohammad Safa in which he talked about the torture issue, prisons and the activities on this occasion. Mr. Safa also called upon all civil society organizations, all anti-violence and torture, all human rights activists to participate in the activities of June 26 program.
Workshop on the situations of the Lebanese prisons and the process of forming the National Preventive Mechanism
On June 25, Khiam Center organized a workshop at the UNESCO entitled: “Open national dialogue on the situations of the Lebanese prisons and the process of forming the National Preventive Mechanism”.
The Center’s Secretary General Mr. Mohammad Safa delivered the opening speech in which he welcomed the participants and attendees and talked about the goals of the workshop. The most significant goal is to establish a positive dialogue between the ministries and the security systems and the civil society bodies in order to find legislation that preserve the prisoner’s right, dignity and security.
Then there was a presentation on “The prisons in Lebanon; its distributions and conditions” prepared by the Information and Documentation unit in KRC. It was presented by the social services administrator in KRC, Amal Khalil.
The most significant points in the presentation:
1. There are 20 prisons in Lebanon:
• Roumieh Central Prison contains the largest number of prisoners (males and females), including two reform institutes for female minors in Roumieh and another for juveniles in Al-Fanar.
• There are also 16 sub-jails distributed on the whole regions and each held between 8 to 168 prisoners.
2. The buildings:
• Not all the prison buildings were established for this goal except for Roumieh Central Prison. The other jails were innovated in headquarters of official institutions like municipalities and Serail.
3. Mutiny incidents in 2007, 2008 and 2009:
• There were several mutiny incidents in different prisons calling for reducing the overcrowding in the cells, improving the conditions and reducing the penalties based on law 463 in 2002.
Later head of the Lebanese Human Rights Committee, lawyer Nehmeh Joma’a, presented several recommendations for new jurisdiction for the prison. Among these recommendations, establishing a committee for prisons administration connected with Justice Ministry, classifying the prisons and detention centers based on the arrested or the convicted, establish modern prisons that could rehabilitate the convicted and prepare him to reintegrate with the society as a good citizen, etc.
Dr. Sabika Al-Najjar from the Bahraini Human Rights Committee also presented a lecture on the adopted work methodology in visiting “Jaw jail” and the lessons drawn from it. After identifying the nature of the committee and its receiving for the detainees’ complaints, Dr. Al-Najjar talked about the committee’s adopted mechanism in their work:
- Connecting the concerned people in the Interior Ministry and visiting some of the arrested people in the jails to make sure that the law is applied.
- Preparing for the visit and forming a staff of 13 members with different domains and holding coordinating meetings with the legal affairs administration in the Interior Ministry, meeting with the concerned officials in Jaw’s Jail and the representatives of International Red Cross to prepare for the visit.
- Writing a report of two main parts: the first deals with analyzing the laws related to the prisons and the second deals with the situation of the rehabilitation center known as “Jaw Central Jail”.
Dr. Najjar said that after presenting the committee’s report, there was a negative attitude from the Interior Ministry and the committee did not know if there were any procedures taken to develop the prisons based on its recommendations.
Then Dr. Abdul Rahman Al-Mubasher from Al-Karama association introduced a presentation in which he called for a national workshop to improve the prison conditions in cooperation with government especially the Justice Ministry and concerned ministries, the syndicates, the civil societies and the United Nations.
At the end of the workshop, there was a discussion among the participants and brigadier general Elias Saadeh, responsible for Roumieh prison, said in an interposition that the concerned systems are seeking to improve the prisons’ conditions in cooperation with the United Nations and the civil society organizations.
Solidarity Day with Victims of Torture and the Missing in front of the UN Headquarters
In cooperation with SOLIDE Association, the Khiam Center organized a sit-in in front of the mothers of the missing people’s tent in solidarity with the victims of torture and the missing at Jebran Khalil Jebran Park (in front of the United Nations headquarters) on 26/6/2009 within a long day full of various activities.
Head of SOLIDE Association Mr. Ghazi Aad delivered a speech in which he asked the new Parliament to make amendments to the penal procedural law to be consistent with the International Convention against Torture. He also demanded to establish a mechanism to prevent torture in the Lebanese prisons.
The Center’s Secretary General Mr. Mohammad Safa also delivered a speech in which he recalled all the victims of torture and the missing people in the world. Mr. Safa greeted all those who are behind the bars and every detainee detained for his ideas and principles, and he called for the release of all detainees, and uncovering the destiny of the missing. He also called on the new parliament the new government to put the issue of the missing people on top of its schedule.
The representative of the Middle East and North Africa at the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Mr. Fateh Azzam hoped that the new parliament would put on its priorities the ratification of the Convention for the Protection of Persons with Disabilities, and take the necessary legislative actions to make sure that Lebanon would meet all its commitments in accordance to the conventions and treaties of human rights signed and ratified by the country.
Mrs. Mariam Al-Saidi, a member in the missing and kidnapped people’s families Committee, asked the mothers to stay awake at night before the officials’ doors until they say what they have of mass graves, adding that the mothers are passing away one after another.
The long day in the tent included: An exhibition of the tent’s guardian martyr Odette Salem, photos, posters, letters and handicrafts of the victims of torture and wars and Khiam Center’s posters. At 5:00 pm, a forum on human rights and anti-violence and torture issues was held in which Mr. Ghazi Aad talked about the missing people’s cause and the stages they have passed by. Then Dr. Sabika Al-Najjar, from the Bahraini Human Rights Committee, announced the solidarity with the mothers and expressed the Committee’s readiness to develop the solidarity campaign with them after that an intimate dialogue was held between Dr. Sabika and the mothers. The long day was concluded with a recital for singer Lola Hatti in which all the audience were excited and they held dabkeh (folkloric Lebanese dance) in participation with the mothers who forgot their agony and depression for some period of time and looked forward to the hope for life and future, then candles were lit paying tribute to the victims of torture and the missing people.
On the same day, Khiam Center sent four doctors from different majors, accompanied by two Psychotherapists, to the Roumieh Prison by the mobile clinic where they examined 100 prisoners there and distributed them booklets on the prisoners’ rights and the swine flu. The health assistance of the detainees has had a positive impact on them asking the Center to pay another visit to the prison.
On 27/6/2009, the Khiam Center organized an entertaining activity for the children whom relatives were detained or tortured (father, brother, uncle…etc) at King Fahed Park in Tripoli. The Park was covered with the white balloons and the children lit candles expressing their rejection of the violence and participated in various games and competitions. And through their drawings, the children expressed the suffering they have witnessed among their families.
The Carnaval started with a minute of silence in tribute to the lives of those martyred under torture then the Lebanese national anthem was played. After that the head of the Khiam Center, Northern Branch, Mrs. Nariman Derbas stressed on the necessity to stand by the detainees who were subjected to all kinds of torture, injustice and deprivation in order to reduce their suffer. Mrs. Derbas talked about the Center’s goals that offer the free health, psychological and social support for the released detainees and their families and the families of the missing people regardless of their nationalities and affiliations.
Moreover, a number of former detainees in the Syrian prisons presented their certificates to the media in which they demanded the Lebanese government to treat them as they treated the detainees freed from the Israeli jails particularly regarding the medical insurance and social assistance pointing that they are suffering a lot due to their detention stressing that the new government headed by Saad Hariri should take care of them and specify compensation to enable them to resume their lives normally.
At the end of the Day, artistic sections were held and the children participated in various games and in the drawing competitions and general information and gifts were distributed to the children.
The Center has issued a brochure and poster on the occasion.