ASSOCIATION OF JUSTICE AND MERCY

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Background

Torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatments on individuals that are arrested, held in custody and/or incarcerated in Lebanese prisons, are common practices that are even justified by the Lebanese society. Statistics, compiled by AJEM for a period of 2 years (2005-2007) with detainees at the Roumieh central prison for men (adults), have showed that 30% of arrested individuals have undergone mistreatments during their interrogation. 17 % kept visible signs of torture five days after their arrest and several detainees showed, during their reception, signs of mental distress requiring the immediate intervention of a psychiatrist. Armed with fifteen years of experience in the area of intervention in prisons, AJEM has acquired the competencies that allow it to join efforts with the Internal Security Forces (ISF). Therefore, it has established a relationship of trust and acquired legitimacy within the Lebanese society and with public authorities. AJEM has consequently the knowledge and the know-how to address the gap in the silence that embraces torture.

Description

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. It targets adults (women and men) that are arrested and incarcerated in the two central prisons: the one in Baabda (women) and the one in Roumieh (men). In order to solve this problem, AJEM promotes a global and integrated approach that aims at:

1) The rehabilitation of tortured individuals and their families: reinforce their capacity to face the detrimental consequences of this experience and regain control over their lives in addition to implementing means to improve them.

2) The training of the ISF so that the individuals pertaining to this mentioned entity acquire new knowledge of interrogation methods and reduce the use of means of torture with detainees from the moment they are held in custody and until their release.

3) The renovation and rearrangement of arresting facilities (custody) throughout Lebanon in order to discourage the practice of torture; with, in particular, the implementation of means of surveillance and control in interrogation rooms: recording equipment, video… This implies the renovation and arrangement of 203 arresting facilities.

4) The follow-up on the legal files of tortured individuals in order to be able to file charges; training of lawyers.

5) The development of mechanisms by the authorities, for the control of torture practices on one hand; and the drafting of reports required by the convention against torture ratified by the Lebanese government, on the other hand.

6) Raising the awareness of the Lebanese society concerning this issue: foster the awareness on its ability to face political and social violence and to develop a project of a society based on common Lebanese values and in line with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in general, and with the convention against torture

Background

The mission of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is to help refugees and asylum seekers in Lebanon and around the world. In partnership with AJEM, the UNHCR launched a project that serves refugees and asylum seekers incarcerated at the Roumieh central prison in Lebanon.

Details of the project: This project was set up with the UNHCR in 2009 for a period of one year, and has been renewed twice since then. The UNHCR provides the majority of the funds which are necessary to the execution of the program, while AJEM provides the personnel and the know-how. Furthermore, AJEM completes the budget of the project. Objectives are reset by both entities every year.

Refugees and asylum seekers are extremely vulnerable individuals in the Lebanese population. The situation is even more critical for those of them who are arrested and incarcerated. In fact, these isolated and deprived individuals face tremendous difficulties to obtain new clothes, complementary foods, etc… which are usually provided by the prisoners’ families during visits. Sometimes, they find themselves under the obligation to sell their very few possessions to other detainees. Finally, it is often difficult for their families, being so remote, to visit them in prison.

Therefore, the program aims at helping refugees and asylum seekers to benefit from detention conditions that are at least equivalent to those of other detainees. This consists in giving them access to health care and providing them with basic material goods, social monitoring, legal assistance and psychological support. The mental health of refugees is the main focus of work of AJEM in this project.

This 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.

Background:

Drug use is prohibited in Lebanon and is a crime according to legislation. Therefore, many drug users are arrested and sent to prison on a yearly basis. The latter has disastrous consequences on them and drives them to seek and try new drugs and other substitutes. The social background of these vulnerable individuals doesn’t usually help them to get out of prison. Unemployment, inactivity and friends who take drugs and offer some to them, constitute many unfavorable factors to a true social and professional reintegration. The risk of relapse is considerable without the crucial support of one’s own family and friends. An important progress is to be made when it comes to all society actors in order to solve this issue at last in an appropriate manner.

Goal of the project:

Facilitating the social and professional integration of drug users incarcerated in Lebanese prisons:

1. By giving them access, during their detention, to adequate rehabilitation programs that are appropriate for their medical, psychological, social and legal needs.

2. By working on the societal criteria that would promote their reintegration (working with the families, neighborhoods, policy-makers, etc.)

Persons of concern:

1. Incarcerated drug users

2. Families of incarcerated drug users Internal Security Forces (ISF)

3. Magistrates

4. Employers and entrepreneurs

5. The Lebanese society in general

Activities

1. Meeting prisoners, exchanging and defining the different profiles.

2. Administrating the rehabilitation centre for drug users, established by AJEMat the Roumieh prison. It aims at helping detainees to control their use of drugs and at preparing them for their release from jail and their return to social, professional and active life outside of prison.

3. Working with drug users on taking measures that can reduce the risks of relapse, with individual monitoring after their release from prison.

4. Working with the families of drug users to help them accompany and support a person who takes drugs. Denouncing a drug using family member is to be avoided, as it is intolerable and unmanageable.

5. Working with the magistrates to promote the equity of sentences against drug users.

6. Promoting the establishment of reasonable penalties that are appropriate for the problem to solve. Informing the Lebanese society about drugs. Working with recruiters and entrepreneurs for the professional reintegration of ex-prisoners.

Work completed by AJEM at the Roumieh central prison:

1- Awareness program in prison(for new prisoners who are entering and in particular those having committed crimes related to drugs):

Individual consultation and counseling on the different programs available for drug control

Evaluation of the Addiction Severity Index (ASI)

Motivational interview

2- Legal interventions:

Legal advice and representation

Work on the reform of the Drugs Law in order to find alternatives to incarceration for drug use

3- Medical, psychological and social interventions:

Prevention of infectious diseases:

IEC (Information, Education and Communication) on HIV, Hepatitis B and C, STD (Sexually Transmitted Disease), different interventions for risk reduction, tattoos

VCT (voluntary counseling and testing of AIDS)

Protection of MSM (Men having Sex with Men) and rape victims.

Treatment of associated comorbidities:

Treatment of psychological and psychiatric comorbidities

Treatment of AIDS and Hepatitis C O

Cognitive behavioral rehabilitation centre for drug users at the Roumieh prison

Launching of the OST (Opioid Substitution Treatment)

4- Continuation of care after being released:

Support for a social and professional reintegration

Association with existing drug control programs

Drop-in centre

Temporary accommodation

5- Research and training:

Seminars and training to raise the awareness of decision-makers and professionals in the areas of health and justice.

Researches to obtain better operational results

“Capital punishment, precisely because it is rarely imposed and exceptionally executed, is the alibi of good consciences, the moral justification of penitentiary leper houses.”

Maître Robert BADINTER

L’Express

December 4-10, 1972

In Contre la peine de mort- Ecrits 1970-2006-, Le livre de Poche, Fayard 2006.

 

Fight for the abolition of capital punishment in Lebanon

The Association Justice and Mercy, committed to the defense of Human Rights in Lebanese prisons and against capital punishment for more than fifteen years;

Profoundly convinced by the inhuman character of capital punishment;

Persuaded that capital punishment is an act of torture and that the act of execution is a dehumanizing and cruel treatment;

Certain that justice must establish a balance and not favor vengeance over reason;

With a strong conviction that capital punishment mainly affects disadvantaged individuals who often belong to minorities and rejects all hope of a second chance for the condemned without giving them any possibility of rehabilitation;

Determined to work for the well-being of citizens and the progress of our societies, in addition to striving for a fairer world;

Works for the abolition of capital punishment in Lebanon.

For AJEM, « capital punishment is the extreme form of torture ».

With its evident cruelty, death penalty violates the conventional human rights set out internationally.

With this violation, AJEM seeks therefore to reinforce in Lebanon the application of international instruments defending the right to live as a fundamental right.

Our project aims at reaching a consensus concerning the abolition of capital punishment through:

– the establishment of exchange and claiming of rights networks;

– the reinforcement of the intervention of civil society organizations in this area;

– the application and respect of common rights for every Lebanese citizen and foreigner in Lebanon.

It is important to reiterate 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.

Objectives of the project:

To raise the awareness of the Lebanese public and policy makers, in addition to redirecting their thinking towards the abolition of capital punishment:

To form a common understanding of the abolition of capital punishment

To provide means to raise the awareness of the different kinds of publics (pupils, university students, adults, judicial personnel, politicians, …)

To promote a reconciliation between prisoners under sentence of death, their families and those of the victims

To drive the actions necessary to commute the sentences of the detainees already on death row

To induce the State to ratify the conventions relating to the abolition of capital punishment

This project has been on hold since the last execution which took place in 2004. Since then, all execution procedures have been blocked, establishing thus a de facto moratorium. Nevertheless, Lebanon hasn’t ratified yet the international conventions against capital punishment.

You can find further information on capital punishment in Lebanon, as well as our petition in favor of the abolition in our “Publications” section.

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