Contributor(s)Prison Insider

Contact with the outside world

A person who is placed in a pre-trial detention centre must wait an average of three weeks to more than a month to contact their family.

The visiting schedule differs for each prisoner because of the system of hierarchy established among the prisoners (see “Prison Population”). Discrimination exists between the Lebanese and foreigners. Palestinians report that their visiting hours are reduced. They are obliged to stay at a distance of a metre from their visitors, while the Lebanese are allowed to touch their loved ones through the bars1.

Telephone calls are not permitted inside the prisons. Prisoners need to pay or make arrangements with the “shawish” (see Prison Population) to make a call, even to communicate with their lawyer1.

Prisoners have no access to internal prison rules and are not informed of their rights.

Theoretically, they can file a complaint against the Interior Security Forces for ill-treatment. The complaint must be presented in person, by telephone, by the General Prosecutor’s Office or by an intermediary. In practice, there is no system in place to follow-up on the complaints. The police usually discard the complaints by citing a lack of evidence1.

Lebanon ratified the United Nations Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT) in 2000. It signed onto its Optional Protocol (OPCAT) in 2008, obliging it to create a National Mechanism of Prevention that year. Lebanon did not meet that timeline because of political and legislative roadblocks.

Parliament sat during October 2016 and created the National Human Rights Institute (NHRI) which includes a committee for the protection from torture1. This committee will be able to conduct unannounced visits to detention sites, investigate the practice of torture and make recommendations to improve the treatment of prisoners.

  1. Human Rights Watch, “New Law a Step to End Torture”, 28 October 2016