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Contributor(s)Prison Insider

The penitentiary system

The most recent count of Lebanese prison facilities, taken in 2011, was 22. According to the article of Equaltimes published in the November 2015, “Roumieh is the only prison designed to accommodate convicts. The others ‘prisons’ are military barracks to which bars have been added”.

In September 2015, Lebanon and Italy reached an agreement, under the auspices of the UN, to improve detention conditions in Lebanese prisons, particularly in Roumieh1. At that same time, the Minister of Justice stated that it was impossible to construct separated facilities for women, minors and people with disabilities2. At the Universal Periodic Review, the Lebanese government said it was unable to proceed with the adopted plans to reduce prison over-population because of the massive increase in the migrant population.


  1. The Daily Star, “Lebanon partners with Italy, UN to improve prisons”, 30 September 2015 

  2. L’Orient Le Jour, “La situation à Roumieh est intolérable”, 1 October 2015 (only in French) 

Roumieh Prison personnel consisted of 200 guards (in January 2013) for more than 5,000 prisoners. The officers are poorly trained and can be moved at anytime from being on traffic patrol, to working in a facility of 1,400 prisoners, without any training provided for the new position1.

Some internal systems have developed, in practice, within the prison facilities. The “shawish” (see Prison Population) take over the administration and security of the prison. They control the other prisoners, assign them tasks, and extort services.