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Spread of Covid-19 in Lebanese Prison Renews Calls for General Amnesty

Spread of Covid-19 in Lebanese Prison Renews Calls for General Amnesty

Tuesday, 15 September, 2020 - 07:30
Inmates produce protective face masks, as part of the preventive measures against the spread of the coronavirus, inside Roumieh prison, Lebanon, in this handout received by Reuters on April 6, 2020. (Reuters)

The announcement of cases of Covid-19 infections among prisoners and soldiers in Roumieh prison has renewed calls for a general amnesty law to limit the spread of the virus.

Families of prisoners held a sit-in on Monday in front of the Justice Palace in Beirut, amid tight security measures, demanding the issuance of a general amnesty for their loved ones and expressing fear of the increasing number of infections, the National News Agency (NNA) reported.

It added that a delegation of the families met with the minister of Justice in the caretaker government, Marie-Claude Najem, to present their demands.

In a statement, a legal monitor said that the opportunity “is still available today, before it is too late, to save prisoners’ lives from the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic.”

The human rights body demanded legal and procedural measures to protect the prisoners.

“Today, with the outbreak of the epidemic being exposed and for social and humanitarian reasons… there is a need to reaffirm the necessity of taking the following steps: the commitment of the judiciary to apply literally the text of Article 108 of the Code of Criminal Procedure upon the expiration of the period of preventive detention, and not to allow the continuation of diligence in the course of the text, in addition to the necessity to mention the date of arrest on the relevant warrants, in order to facilitate the decision of release requests.”

The legal monitor stressed the need to adopt other measures, including “replacing preventive detention cases with judicial control…in accordance with the text of Article 111 of the New Procedures Code…”

“It is imperative to unite the efforts of workers in the justice sector and those interested in human rights issues to secure a just humanitarian solution for prisoners,” said the coordinator of the legal monitor, lawyer Jad Tohme.

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