ASSOCIATION OF JUSTICE AND MERCY

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About Us

 

WORD OF THE FOUNDER

This is a new space dedicated to giving the opportunity to come together under Justice and Mercy, the two main pillars of the society of peace to which we aspire.

It is a collective experience, full of joys and deceptions, that we wish to share with you. In fact, our work with the most disadvantaged, prisoners, drug users, foreigners, the sick, AIDS positive individuals and prisoners on death row as well as their families,encourages us to always give more of ourselves in order to be able to address the different needs.

Our multidisciplinary team is here to listen, to analyze, not to over-dramatize and to find solutions, so that the incarceration period could be put to profit. Behind prison walls, a society parallel to ours is formed with its hierarchical systems, its laws and its injustices. Our team members go to the other side of these walls to listen, support, defend, attend and testify.

Believing in the capacities and immense richness of each individual keeps us always striving to serve and meet the enormous challenge of ours. We have faith in the boundlessness of the person, or in other terms, in his unlimited character and continuous growth.

Our project seeks to be a reflection of every individual who makes of himself a project in constant evolution.

AJEM will continue to promote forgiveness and reconciliation: not to hate but to understand. Not to erase the mistake, but to erase anger, humiliation and vengeance. Beyond barriers and prejudices, to support and to raise consciousness.

Enjoy your visit.

Hady AYA (A.M.O.)

logo-1-152x107The Association Justice and Mercy (AJEM) was founded in 1998 on the initiative of a group of Lebanese social workers concerned by inhuman detention conditions. As it aims at improving the conditions of arrest, detention and rehabilitation of prisoners, AJEM is a Lebanese non-governmental organization (NGO) that is non-profit, apolitical and non-confessional.

Since its foundation the association has been allowed to visit all penitentiaries in Lebanon and to do counselling to all the prisoners in their varied locations. This access has given them opportunities to organize and conduct individual and collective interventions with the incarcerated population. It is noted that this team is multidisciplinary and includes a social worker, a nurse, a psychologist, and a lawyer to provide all prisoners a legal, medical, social and psychological assistance.

AJEM works very closely with the administrations in these prisons. Thus, since its foundation, AJEM has proved its legitimacy in this environment and developped close collaboration with the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Health.

In addition to the work conducted in and out prison related to human rights, AJEM has progressively settled different projects to increase the scope of its action.

  • The harm-reduction programs main goals are to raise awareness among prisoners and the Lebanese civil society as well as to provide a support to vulnerable population. It is divided in four parts: 1) awareness program in prison, 2) medical, psychological, social and legal interventions in prison, 3) continuation of care after being released and 4) research and training.
  • The Opioïd Substitution Treatment (OST) program is an integral component of the harm reduction policy: two programs were implemented to facilitate the access to AJEM’s services for drugs users: one in Roumieh and one in Antelias. Its main goal is to assist and guide drugs users towards a better quality of life reducing the risk of overdose and infection. To that extent, the OST program main activity is to prepare the controlled distribution of an alternative medication the buprenorphine (DCI), which helps drugs users not to feel the withdrawal and to get a physical and psychological stability.
  • The rehabilitation program aims at the rehabilitation and the support of incarcerated drug users from the moment of their reception at the Roumieh central prison, until their socioeconomic (re)integration is complete. Thus, in order  to facilitate the social and professional integration of drug users incarcerated in Lebanese prisons 1) AJEM’s team give them access, during their detention, to adequate rehabilitation programs that are appropriate for their medical, psychological, social and legal needs and 2) work on the societal criteria that would promote their reintegration (working with the families, neighbourhoods, policy-makers, etc.).
  • In partnership with AJEM since 2009, UNHCR launched a project that serves refugees and asylum seekers incarcerated at the Roumieh central prison in Lebanon. Therefore, the program aims at helping them to benefit from detention conditions that are at least equivalent to those of other detainees. This consists in giving the refugees and asylum seekers access to health care and providing them with basic material goods, social monitoring, legal assistance and psychological support.

10360891_982738915083755_8682611445442960879_nAJEM is also deeply involved the fight against the capital punishment, it is important to point out that AJEM was the first NGO to rise up against the sentencing and executions of capital punishment which took place after the 15 years of civil war. Our project aims at reaching a consensus concerning the abolition of capital punishment through: 1) the establishment of exchange and claiming of rights networks, 2) the reinforcement of the intervention of civil society organizations in this area and 3) the application and respect of common rights for every Lebanese citizen and foreigner in Lebanon.

Regarding the fight against torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatments on individuals that are arrested, held in custody and/or incarcerated in Lebanese prisons. This project’s goal is to bring about positive change to this situation, to take charge of tortured individuals and to end these inhuman practices.  To that extent, AJEM promotes a global and integrated approach that aims at: 1) the training of lawyers and ISF, 2) the development of mechanisms by the authorities, for the control of torture practices 3) the drafting of reports and 4) raising the awareness of the Lebanese society concerning this issue.

1625454_743080159049633_2930264265216431383_nIn this way, the observatory for criminal justice in Lebanon was founded in 2014 in partnership with the “international cooperation and development Spanish agency” (AECID) in response to the dysfunctions of the Lebanese criminal law system which has still not achieved the necessary amendments to effectively modernization. Its main goals are: 1) documenting and analysing the criminal justice reality on the ground, 2) creating a collaboration platform between all professionals concerned by this issue, 3) suggesting solutions and recommendations to introduce changes in criminal proceedings and 4) guiding and monitoring reforms suggested by the Ministry of Justice and give support to decisions makers and NGO’s in their proposal of national policy, of amendments.

We seek to build a peaceful society based on justice and mercy and on the understanding and respect of the human being and his mission in life. We believe that human dignity lays above all considerations, since it is present in each and every one of us. It is at the roots of the human nature and no one in entitled to tarnish it. Each person is unique in their strengths as well as in their weaknesses.

We also believe that the human development is a responsibility to be shared among every one of us. Any improvement or impairment influencing this development is intrinsically related to the interactions with others, whether through their existence, through the quality of their presence or through their ability to interact with their environment. We consider justice as a larger and broader concept than the simple equality between individuals, since everyone’s abilities vary from one person to another. Their wills, hopes, needs and pain will therefore differ too.

The mercy we believe in and that inspires our work is probably an attempt to turn the concept of justice into a concept transcending the narrow idea of “legitimate punishment”. Our vision is oriented towards a larger and broader concept, implying social reforms and an effective human development.

When it comes to prison, we believe that:

  • The State’s responsibility to protect the society doesn’t discharge it of its responsibility to promote the well-being and development of every member of this society, including inmates.
  • Every detainee has the right to take part in cultural and educational activities that contribute to their personal development.
  • The disciplinary isolation punishment should be abolished or downgraded to a minimum.
  • Every detainee has the right to a paid work.
  • Every detainee should have access to all health services available in the country, without any discrimination based on their legal situation.
  • Every detainee has the right to benefit from the best conditions possible facilitating their social reintegration once released from prison, within the respect of the society as a whole and victims in particular.

 

 Since its creation in 1998, AJEM (Association Justice and Mercy) has worked according to moral standards, to its founding principles and to a thoughtful approach, as testified in its Charter.

AJEM is a non-governmental organization. It has been founded in Lebanon as a private, apolitical, non-sectarian and non-profit organization, to take action within this country. Its vocation is to have the Human Rights stipulated in United Nations Charter of 1948 respected, particularly when it comes to more vulnerable people such as prisoners, drug users, MSM (Men having Sexual relationships with other Men), refugees and asylum seekers, the sick and HIV positive individuals…

The association intervenes in crisis situations (emergency intervention) and continues to take action even after the end of these situations (through reintegration and rehabilitation programs). It also takes action in risk prevention. All the programs of the Association Justice and Mercy aim at allowing its beneficiaries to recover their autonomy and means of living as fast as possible, without having to depend on external assistance.

In the course of its activity, AJEM respects the following principles:

INDEPENDENCE In order to preserve and maintain its moral and financial freedom, AJEM takes action according to its own principles and never identifies itself with domestic or foreign political interests or any government whatsoever.

NEUTRALITY AJEM abides by the respect of a strict political and religious neutrality and impartiality. However, the association is to report any Human Rights violation it could witness, as well as any obstacles impairing the carrying out of its humanitarian mission.

NON-DISCRIMINATION The Association Justice and Mercy prohibits, in the course of its action, any discrimination based on race, sex, ethnicity, religion, nationality, point of view or social class.

PROFESSIONALISM The Association Justice and Mercy places the design, achievement, management and assessment of its programs at the roots of professionalism requirements and the capitalization of its experience, in order to improve its efficiency and the use of its resources.

TRANSPARENCY The Association Justice and Mercy commits to its beneficiaries, partners and donors, to respect the transparency and to provide information when it comes to the allocation and management of its funds, in addition to acquiring all the guarantees aiming at providing evidence of its good management. The resources allocation is monitored so that it reaches the individuals in precarious situations to which it is destined. The partners with whom the association is working can never be the ultimate beneficiaries of its assistance programs. All members of the Association Justice and Mercy adhere to the principles of this Charter and commit to respecting them.

 

 AJEM Reception House:

The reception service welcomes you from Monday to Friday, from 8:30AM to 4:30PM and on Saturdays from 8:30AM to 3:30PM. Once there, you can:

1. Learn more about any prison-related health, social and legal matters.

2. Drop your mobile phone and any other object forbidden inside the prison. This service is free of charge for the duration of your visit.

3. Make an appointment with a member of the AJEM staff (social workers, nurses, psychologists, psychiatrist, practitioner, lawyers).

In addition to the previously mentioned, more specific services are also offered at the Reception House:

1. OST (Opiate Substitution Therapy) for drug users.

2. VCT (Voluntary Counseling and Testing), i.e. quick HIV/AIDS testing along with prevention tips. The testing is free of charge and the results are confidential.

3. An Accommodation Service for former prisoners can also be provided to ex-inmates in need. The accommodation center is located in Antelias.

Consultations offered by AJEM

Psychiatrist:Tuesday from 9:30am till 12pm

Psychologists: Monday to Friday from 9:00am till 4:00pm

Nurses: Monday to Friday from 9:00am till 4:00pm

Social Workers: Monday to Friday from 9:00am till 4:00pm

Lawyers: Monday to Friday from 12:00pm till 3:00pm

OST(Oral Substitution Therapy: Tuesday from 9:30am till 12pm

Visiting the Central Prison of Roumieh

Visiting days: Visits to the Central Prison of Roumieh take place on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 9:30AM to 3:00PM. The other days of the week are set aside for special cases (terrorists). Visits are not allowed during days off except with a special authorization. The authorization can be obtained at the “Niyabe 3ame النيابة العامة” before your visit.

Objects forbidden inside the prison: It is strictly forbidden to enter the prison with the following items:

Sharp objects: knives, scissors, nail clips, glass objects and blades.

Flammable or explosive objects.

Metallic objects.

Hidden medications (only the medications prescribed by one of the prison doctors are allowed) and other drugs.

Electronic devices: mobile phones and all their components [battery, headphones, SIM card, …] (It is possible to drop them, free of charge, at AJEM in front of the prison for the duration of your visit), cameras, laptops, music players, …

Bringing goods to prisoners: AJEM may not bring personal goods to prisoners. Some objects need a special authorization. Nevertheless, you are allowed to bring to your loved ones:

Clothes (except scarves, laces and belts…) and bed sheets: foam mattresses, blankets… Beds are forbidden.

Food (without tin cans). It is not allowed to bring, within the walls of the prison, the products available at the Minimarket (cigarettes,Picon, coffee…).

Books (polemic books are not allowed).