BEIRUT: The Beirut municipality announced Tuesday it would donate $1.3 million to Roumieh Prison rehabilitation efforts.
Beirut’s Mayor Bilal Hamad met with Interior Minsiter Nouhad Machnouk Tuesday, to announce that his municipality had made a decision two weeks ago to contribute in funding prison restoration.
“We think that the aims of this [project] suit the goals of the Beirut municipality in terms of protecting society from crime, rehabilitating prisons and training prisoners to re-integrate into society,” Hamad said after the meeting.
Machnouk also met with MP Ghassan Moukheiber, the head of the parliamentary committee on human rights, to discuss the conditions of prisons in Lebanon.
“The prison has become a bad and inhumane place,” Moukheiber said after the meeting, in which he said he had stressed on the need for cooperation between himself, the Parliament and the Interior Ministry over the matter.
“We will cooperate to implement the series of recommendations related to prison restoration that were mentioned in the national plan for human rights in Lebanon,” he added.
Machnouk’s project also received support from the Banks Association, which donated a chunk of required funds to repair exisiting prison facilities.
While prisons across Lebanon are only designed to hold 2,500 prisoners, there are 7,800 inmates, 62 percent of are being held without trial.
A human rights report stated that while Roumieh’s prison is the most extreme example, most prisons across Lebanon are plagued with overcrowding, decaying buildings and lack of control over prisoners.
Overcrowding in particular leads to inhumane conditions for prisoners, who on average have one twelfth the living space required by international standards. Moreover, 69 percent of prisoners in Lebanon are still awaiting trial and those who have been convicted of minor crimes are often housed with those accused or convicted of serious violent ones.