Lebanon Prison Blues
Photoblog by Haytham al-Moussawi (Roumieh Prison), Marwan Bu Haidar (Juvenile Detention Center), and Marwan Tahtah (Baabda Women’s Prison)
Women accused of killing their husbands, runaway domestic workers, children denied education, and countless others jailed without trial: State neglect in penitentiaries sees prisoners finding small ways to turn punishment cells into more humane reformatories. Playing cards, holiday decorations, and friendships formed offer the justly and unjustly caged reminders of the outside world.
In overcrowded prisons, numerous are being held arbitrarily without trial for excessive periods, while migrant workers, asylum seekers, and refugees remain incarcerated until well after their set release dates.
Convicted and unconvicted inmates are left to share cells with murderers and marijuana-smokers.
According to the 2008 Lebanese Center for Human Rights report, 66 percent of those imprisoned in Lebanon had not yet been convicted and 13 percent were being held beyond their sentence.
When trials are staged in corrupt courts with paid judges and inadequate checks on trial procedures, incrimination is subjective. Criminals become criminals because crimes are attached to their names, sometimes rightly so, but consistency and credibility are lacking with unevenly imposed 'justice.'
To make matters worse, the state does little to secure a life free from excessive hardship after prisoners are released, inviting repeat offenses from those they purportedly aimed to reform.