Special populations

Female prisoners

3.4 % (224)

Variation in the number of female prisoners


The number of female prisoners has decreased by approximately 21% between 2015 and 2020.

Women can be held in four designated facilities (Baabda, Tripoli, Zahle, and Beirut) or in the female wing of Roumieh Prison.1

  1. The Lebanese Democratic Women’s Gathering RDFL, “Lebanon: Women’s Prisons Are Worse”, 12 September 2013. 

There is an effective separation between men and women


Untried female prisoners are separated from the convicted


The prison staff is

mostly female

The only male staff allowed in women’s prisons are those in charge of prison searches (Article 24, Prison Regulations 1949)1.

  1. Lebanese Centre for Human Rights, “Prisons in Lebanon: Humanitarian and Legal Concerns”, 2010, p. 77. 

Gender-specific needs are not always catered to. Female prisoners have regularly complained about the lack of basic hygiene products, such as sanitary towels, deodorants, and underwear.1 Pregnant women are not given sufficient food during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. However, the authorities are obliged to provide them with special meals prescribed by the facility’s doctor (Article 80 of Decree No. 14310). Lebanese civil society organisations have denounced the lack of gynaecological services.2 The Dar al Amal association has been working with female prisoners since 1996. It meets their needs in detention (food, hygiene products, clothing, medication, legal assistance) and supports them when they are released.

  1. Lebanese Centre for Human Rights, “Prisons in Lebanon: Humanitarian and Legal Concerns”, 2010, p. 24. 

  2. Civil Society Reports, “Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Third Round Lebanon”, 2020, p. 101. 

Female prisoners can receive support from associations whose mission is “limited to giving advice to prisoners and training them in certain jobs, under the supervision of the governor” (Article 28 Decree No. 14130).

Civil society organisations occasionally offer activities and training to female prisoners. Between 2012 and 2013, the cultural association Zakira ran introductory photography courses. Around 40 women from the Barbar El Khazen prison (Beirut) took part. One of the association’s photographers, Zahraa Mortada, reported that female prisoners usually take sewing, knitting, and make-up classes.

The legislation provides for a sentence adjustment for pregnant women or women with young children


The 2001 Code of Criminal Procedure states that “if a pregnant woman is sentenced, the execution of her sentence shall not begin until ten weeks after she has given birth” (Article 409).1 A pardon may be requested by persons with a dependent child who otherwise has no parent to care for them on the outside (Article 49 of the Internal Prison Regulations).2

Mothers are allowed to keep their children with them


The law does not detail until what age the child can stay with their mother in detention. In theory, this would be possible for the duration of the breastfeeding period.

There is reportedly no adapted living space or unit for children in prison with their mothers.

In 2020, Lebanese civil society organisations condemned the failure to meet the specific needs of newborns in detention.1

  1. Civil Society Reports, “Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Third Round Lebanon”, 2020, p. 101. 

The law bans the imprisonment of minors


Minimum age of imprisonment for minors

12 years old

Criminal liability is set at seven years old.1 Children can be incarcerated from the age of 12.2

Incarcerated minors

2.2 % (147)

Variation in the number of incarcerated minors


: The number of incarcerated minors has decreased significantly between 2016 and 2020. In 2016, there were 611 children in prison. Nearly 80% of them were in pre-trial detention.1

Ministry in charge of incarcerated minors

Ministry of Justice

Minors are subject to a special justice system. Law No. 422 of 6 June 2002 sets out provisions for the protection of minors who are currently or are at risk of being in trouble with the law. The death penalty, forced labour, and corporal punishment are prohibited for minors. A social worker assists in the implementation of court decisions concerning children.1

The range of criminal sanctions for children is outlined in the 2002 Act. The law favours alternative educational measures to custodial sentences such as community service or reparation. The juvenile judge can change, modify, or suspend the measure at any time in the child’s best interests. These sanctions can be imposed up to the age of 21 “if the minor’s circumstances so require”.1

Juveniles can be held in a dedicated ward in Roumieh Prison or in either of two designated prisons (one for girls and one for boys).

Figures on minors in prison are published


Minors in prison are separated from adults


The separation of minors from adults is stipulated by law and internal rules (Article 2 of Act No. 422 of 6 June 2002, Article 8 of the Internal Prison Regulations of 1949). Juvenile prisoners may come into contact with adults in Roumieh Prison, primarily in the prison yard. The juvenile wing consists of a designated floor in a building where adults are held.1

  1. Act for Human Rights, “Annual report 2018, The situation of Human Rights in Lebanon”, April 2019, p. 19. 

The law provides for single cell accommodation for minors


The schooling of minors is compulsory


Civil society organisations offer literacy courses to juvenile prisoners.

Observers report that conditions in the Roumieh Juvenile Detention Centre are “less undignified” than in the adult detention facilities. It is said to be less dirty and overcrowded. It is also reported that more training and courses are offered. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) finances the supply of basic commodities for juvenile prisoners (soap, shampoo, towels, sheets, underwear, toothbrushes, toothpaste). It also funds psychological counselling for young Syrian prisoners.1

The Ministry of Social Affairs and UNODC offer occasional activities for minors. In 2016, the UN Committee against Torture listed the following activities:

  • a three-month training course in agricultural techniques for 16 young people, after which they received official diplomas
  • an apprenticeship in car mechanics in Beirut
  • a literacy programme for girls, running two days a week
  • vocational rehabilitation programmes in sewing, crocheting, and wool work for girls In the 2013/14 school year, eight teachers were assigned by the Ministry of Education and Higher Education to train juvenile prisoners.1

Staff is not trained to deal with minors.

  • The relatives of prisoners have reported cases of violence at Roumieh prison. Juvenile prisoners have been beaten, tortured, and sexually assaulted by other prisoners. Security forces are not qualified to look after minors, says the vice president of the Committees for families of prisoners. Minors are treated like adults. No attention is given to their specific needs.

    / Al Hurra

Number and percentage of foreign prisoners

35 %

/ Ministry of Justice

In 2016, foreign prisoners were mainly Syrian (27%), Palestinian (6.3%), Egyptian (0.5%) and Sudanese (0.2%).1 The war in Syria caused many Syrian nationals to come to Lebanon. Most of them (73%) do not have legal residence and have settled in so-called wilderness camps. This has resulted in arrests and convictions of Syrians for “abuses and disturbances of public order”. Amnesty International has also reported that hundreds of Syrian nationals have been arbitrarily arrested since 2011 for alleged terrorism or affiliation with armed groups.

  1. Caritas Lebanon, European Research Institute, “Access to legal aid services in Lebanese prisons”, 4 mars 2017, p. 13. 

Foreign prisoners are informed of their right to communicate with their consular representatives


The authorities are obliged to immediately report the arrest of a foreign person to their home embassy.1 Foreign prisoners have the right to communicate with their consular authorities.2

The Lebanese Centre for Human Rights (CLDH) reported “a serious lack of information for prison staff on foreigners’ particular situation and insufficient coordination between the prison service and the entities in charge of foreign nationals (embassies, General Security and UNHCR)”.3

  1. UN Committee against Torture, “Consideration of reports submitted by States Parties under Article 19 of the Convention, Initial reports of States Parties due in 2001”, 14 April 2016, § 66 pp. 16. 

  2. Ibid § 313 p. 59. 

  3. Lebanese Centre for Human Rights, “Prisons in Lebanon: Humanitarian and Legal Concerns”, 2010, p. 28. 

Foreign prisoners can be assisted by an interpreter


Foreign prisoners have the right to the assistance of a sworn interpreter upon being taken into custody (Article 47 of the Code of Criminal Procedure). The CLDH reported that this right is not respected in detention: “No interpreters seem to be called in when a prisoner does not understand the languages spoken within the prison”.1

  1. Lebanese Centre for Human Rights, “Prisons in Lebanon: Humanitarian and Legal Concerns”, 2010, p. 28. 

Foreign prisoners are entitled to legal aid


Some civil society organisations, such as Caritas Lebanon and CLDH, provide legal aid to foreign prisoners.

Illegally entering and staying in Lebanon as a foreigner is considered an offence punishable by one to three years’ imprisonment, a fine, and deportation. This also applies to asylum seekers. The country has not yet acceded to the 1951 UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees.

Foreign prisoners are allowed to remain in the country after having served their sentence

under certain circumstances

The law permits the deportation of foreigners convicted of a crime or specific offences (Article 88 of the Penal Code). Deportation is either for life or for a period of three to fifteen years. The person concerned must carry out the deportation within 15 days or face a penalty of one to six months’ imprisonment (Article 89 of the Criminal Code). The law recognises the principle of non-refoulement of foreigners to places where they are likely to be exposed to persecution, torture, and inhuman and degrading treatment (Article 32 of the Law of 10 July 1962 concerning the entry and exit of foreigners into and from Lebanese territory). This principle is not always respected. Observers have reported the deportation of many Syrian nationals who entered Lebanon illegally. The NGO MENA Rights Group highlighted the case of two Syrian brothers who arrived in Lebanon in 2017. The brothers fled from the conflict and compulsory military service. They were arrested in 2019 on suspicion of involvement with Syrian armed groups. They claimed to have been tortured into making confessions. They were sentenced to three years’ imprisonment by a military court. After serving their sentences, the two brothers were transferred to a holding centre in Beirut. One of them was deported to Syria in October 2021, where he was at risk of torture and other forms of ill-treatment for draft evasion.1

The CLDH noted that between April and September 2009, 13% of prisoners had not been released after serving their sentence because they had failed to pay their fine. All of them were foreign nationals. The vast majority (81%) were convicted of illegally entering and/or staying in Lebanon.1 Many prison governors have expressed their dismay and concern at foreign nationals being kept in detention after having served their sentences while awaiting their transfer to the General Security holding centre.2

  1. Lebanese Centre for Human Rights, “Prisons in Lebanon: Humanitarian and Legal Concerns”, 2010, p. 51. 

  2. Ibid., p. 62. 

Cumulative sentences have a limit


The Penal Code limits the accumulation of penalties: “In the event of conviction of several crimes or offences, a sentence shall be imposed for each offence and only the heaviest sentence shall be served. However, the accumulation of sentences may be ordered, provided that the total duration of the temporary sentences does not exceed by half of the maximum sentence applicable to the most serious offence. If no ruling has been made on the combination or cumulation of sentences imposed in the course of one or more prosecutions, the matter shall be referred to the judge for an order to be made”(Article 205).

There are specific prison facilities for long-term prisoners


Life sentences are banned


Article 37 of the Penal Code allows for a life sentence.

There are specific prison facilities for life-sentenced prisoners


The Penal Code stipulates that life-sentenced prisoners must be held in “separate units” (Article 56).

[The Penal Code] allows for the conversion of a life sentence to a prison term of seven to twenty years (Article 201).

Percentage of untried prisoners

55.5 % (3,703)
  • 80% of the prison population is made up of untried prisoners, according to an investigation published by Amnesty International on 7 June 2023.

    / Amnesty International

Variation in the number of untried prisoners


The amount of people in pre-trial detention decreased by about 4% between 2015 and 2020.

Untried prisoners are separated from the convicted


The law stipulates the separation of persons in pre-trial detention from convicted persons (Article 62 of Decree No. 14310).1 This rule is not respected.

The law provides for release on bail for untried prisoners


Bail is allowed for all offences. The fees are high and are considered a deterrent.1

  1. Department of State, “Lebanon Human Rights Report”, 2020, p. 8. 

The Code of Criminal Procedure limits the duration of pre-trial detention. The duration varies according to the type of offence. In the case of an offence of moderate severity, it cannot exceed two months unless the person has already been sentenced to a prison term of at least one year. The duration of pre-trial detention is limited to six months for serious offences. It may be renewed once in cases of “extreme necessity”. There is no limit to the duration of pre-trial detention for homicide, drug-related crimes, and crimes against state security.1 The duration of pre-trial detention very often exceeds legal limits. Some prisoners have waited years to be brought before a judge. Lynn Maalouf, Director of Middle East Research at Amnesty International, explained: “Prisons in Lebanon are full of people who don’t belong there, including hundreds of people who are kept locked up because the judicial system does not process their cases in a timely manner or because they cannot afford to pay their fines or obtain release warrants”.

  1. Article 108 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, as amended by Law No. 111 of 26 June 2010. 

Untried prisoners are not treated in a manner that reflects their presumed innocence. Civil society organisations have denounced extended pre-trial detention. They claim that judges and prosecutors do not respect the legal maximum time limit for pre-trial detention or trial deadlines. They have also reported that there are delays in applying for release and in transferring prisoners to the courthouses. Arrest warrants are issued with no justification of the need for pre-trial detention. Alternatives to pre-trial detention are rarely employed. Pre-trial detention is reportedly used more as a punishment prior to conviction.1

  1. Civil Society Reports, “Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Third Round Lebanon”, 2020, p. 60. 

Data collection about prisoners’ minority or indigenous background is allowed


The last general census was carried out in 1932. There are various studies that try to estimate current population figures. However, these estimates vary according to different sources (United Nations Population Division, Population Reference Bureau, Census Bureau).

The prosecution or imprisonment of a person on the grounds of their sexual orientation or gender identity is banned


The law punishes any sexual practice considered “against the natural order”. This can result in a prison sentence ranging from one month to one year, and a fine of 200,000 to one million Lebanese pounds (Article 534 of the Penal Code).1

  1. Proud Lebanon, Report submitted to the Committee against Torture in the context of the initial review of Lebanon, “The LGBTI community in Lebanon”, 2017, p. 1. 

LGBTQI+ persons are separated from other prisoners

in some cases

LGBTQI+ people who test positive for HIV are sent to a designated section of the “blue building”, which is the psychiatric unit in Roumieh Prison.

LGBTQI+ persons are not afforded any special protection. Civil society organisations report that they are often abused. They are subjected to violence by fellow prisoners and staff (harassment, rape, sexual assault, and other forms of abuse). They are often deprived of their right of access to a lawyer, notably during interrogations.1 In a report published in 2013, Human Rights Watch documented multiple incidents of torture and ill-treatment (verbal, physical, sexual, humiliation) committed by members of the Internal Security Forces. In addition to obtaining confessions, physical violence is also used as a disciplinary measure. Until 2020, LGBTQI+ HIV-positive people had been receiving antiretroviral treatment as part of a national programme.2 However, the programme has since run into difficulties: its premises were destroyed in the explosion at the port of Beirut. Since then, the NGO Proud Lebanon has taken over and has ensured that all prisoners have access to their medication.

  1. Civil Society Reports, “Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Third Round Lebanon”, 2020, p. 153. 

  2. Ibid p. 154. 

  • A prisoner stated that he was tortured and mistreated, both physically and psychologically, by security guards and other prisoners at the Tripoli courthouse due to his homosexuality. He also said that he was denied food in Roumieh prison.

    / Centre libanais de droits humains (CLDH)

Assignment of transgender prisoners to a specific facility depends on

their biological sex

The NGO Proud Lebanon reported that people are placed in prisons according to their biological sex. A transgender woman who is biologically male would be sent to a men’s prison. The prison staff would cut her hair. The transwoman would be at risk of all kinds of abuse. Should a transwoman be transferred to a women’s prison, she would face frequent rejection by fellow inmates and may be subjected to violence because of her gender identity.

Transgender prisoners are entitled to customised searches


Transgender prisoners benefit from specific health care


HIV and drug testing is routinely carried out for persons identified as being LGBTQIA+.

The prison service keeps a record of elderly prisoners


Number and percentage of elderly prisoners

6.6 % (600)

≥ 50 years old

/ Caritas Lebanon, European Research Institute, "Access to legal aid services in Lebanese prisons", 4 March 2017, p. 12.

The law allows elderly prisoners to apply for a sentence adjustment. The prison governor is required to draw up a report for the purpose of obtaining a pardon or suspension of sentence for convicts who are “very old or have a disability that makes them unfit for any kind of work” (Article 49 of Decree No. 14310).1

The prison service keeps a record of prisoners with disabilities


Prison facilities are adapted to the needs of prisoners with disabilities


Death penalty is abolished


The death penalty is provided for in Article 43 of the Penal Code. The last execution took place in 2004. Together against the Death Penalty (Ensemble contre la peine de mort, ECPM) has reported that capital punishment is still widespread.1
The abolition of the death penalty is being debated in civil society, academia, and the legal community. However, political groups continue to oppose abolition.

  1. Together against the Death Penalty, Carole Berrih and Karim El Mufti, “Living Without Being: Fact-Finding Mission, Lebanon”, 2020, p. 68. 

Number of death sentences


/ ECPM, Carole Berrih and Karim El Mufti, “Living without being: fact-finding mission, Lebanon", 2020, pp. 20-21.

EPCM estimated that 89 death sentences were passed by the courts between 2015 and 2019. The association emphasised that this figure only covers “effectively documented” cases, as there is no public data on sentences passed by military courts.

Number of death sentenced prisoners awaiting execution



/ ECPM, Carole Berrih and Karim El Mufti, “Living Without Being: Fact-Finding Mission, Lebanon", 2020, p. 11.

Number of executions


The last execution was carried out in 2004.

/ ECPM, Carole Berrih and Karim El Mufti, “Living Without Being: Fact-Finding Mission, Lebanon", 2020, p. 60.

Minors cannot be sentenced to death. Instead of the death penalty, the sentence is 5 to 15 years’ imprisonment. The death penalty can be commuted for those who have “an excuse or extenuating circumstance, such as an intellectual disability or mental illness”. Commutation can also be granted to persons deemed “honourable” and to those who have committed political offences. Pregnant women are not exempt from capital punishment. Their execution is suspended until after childbirth. The stay can be extended for up to several months for nursing mothers.1

  1. Together against the Death Penalty, Carole Berrih and Karim El Mufti, “Living Without Being: Fact-Finding Mission, Lebanon”, 2020, pp. 23-24. 

Since 2011, death row prisoners have been eligible for commutation to a prison sentence of 35 to 40 years, if several requirements are met: “to have spent 30 years in prison, to have shown good behaviour, to have compensated the plaintiff, and to have waived the right to compensation”.1

  1. Together against the Death Penalty, Carole Berrih and Karim El Mufti, “Living Without Being: Fact-Finding Mission, Lebanon”, 2020, p. 85. 

Prisoners sentenced to death are placed in special facilities, units or cells


The ECPM fact-finding mission revealed that the majority of people on death row are held in Roumieh Prison (83%). Others are detained in Qobbeh, Barbar Khazen and Jezzine. Death row prisoners share cells with those serving other sentences.1

  1. Together against the Death Penalty, Carole Berrih and Karim El Mufti, “Living Without Being: Fact-Finding Mission, Lebanon”, 2020, p. 102. 

There are no special detention arrangements for death row prisoners. Detention conditions are similar for all prisoners but may vary depending on the facility or building in which the person is held. The ECPM fact-finding mission reported that the mental state of the death row prisoners they met was “very worrying”.1

  1. Together against the Death Penalty, Carole Berrih and Karim El Mufti, “Living Without Being: Fact-Finding Mission, Lebanon”, 2020, pp. 102-103. 

Death row prisoners receive few, if any, family visits. Families often live far away from where their relatives are imprisoned. The ECPM fact-finding mission stated that the families of death row prisoners face difficulties when visiting their relatives such as the high cost of petrol and the long waiting times. “Some families have had to wait more than three hours for a fifteen-minute visit”.1

  1. Together against the Death Penalty, Carole Berrih and Karim El Mufti, “Living Without Being: Fact-Finding Mission, Lebanon”, 2020, p. 113. 

The only prisoners subject to special security and surveillance are those who have been sentenced to death for terrorism. They are held in Building B at Roumieh Prison. Members of the ECPM fact-finding mission were unable to interview these individuals despite having received permission from the Ministry of Justice. They reported that each time they visited, “the security forces cited various security problems”.