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Lebanon News

Ragheb Alama tours Roumieh, vows to help inmates

Lebanese singer Ragheb Alama, center, arrives at Roumieh Prison on Wednesday, May 21, 2014. (The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)

BEIRUT: Lebanese singer Ragheb Alama Wednesday toured Roumieh Prison, Lebanon’s largest detention facility, to check on the conditions of inmates, his first task as a U.N. Goodwill Ambassador.

Alama, one of Lebanon's most prominent artists, met with several inmates in their cells where he listened to their needs and demands, accompanied by Col. Antoine Thekr and Internal Security Forces Spokeperson Lt. Col. Joseph Moussallem.

During a brief news conference after concluding the visit, Alama said that his tour in Roumieh was his "first step after his appointment as Goodwill Ambassador."

The award-winning artist also said inmates spoke to him about issues they were facing inside the prison. chief of them being overcrowded cells and the slow judicial process, particularly trials.

He added that the ISF was doing its best to improve conditions inside the prison but was unable to do so "in light of the weak capabilities and lack of sufficient funds."

Alama promised the prisoners to make their demands heard with the help of the ISF to improve conditions "because they have the right to live in dignity."

Inmates in Roumieh have observed several hunger strikes in protest of the deteriorating prison conditions, demanding amnesty for prisoners and speedy trial procedures.

Alama, who kicked off his career in the 1980s, has also contributed to supporting United Nations Environment Program activities and other nongovernmental organizations addressing climate change in the region and Lebanon.

Hours later, Alama said that he contacted the head of the Higher Judicial Council Judge Jean Fahed to discuss his tour.

"[Fahed] told me that he would dedicate enough time to help the prisoners in a humanitarian and legal framework," Alama, who has at least 2.3 million followers on Twitter, said on his feed.

"I ask God to help me assist the prisoners, particularly those oppressed whose detention has been far too long,” he added.

 

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