Riots in Lebanon's Roumieh prison after COVID-19 cases detected

One inmate said that “the situation is difficult in the prison,” and that no one is paying attention to them or taking them to hospitals


BEIRUT: Inmates at the notorious Roumieh prison staged riots late Sunday night after COVID-19 cases were detected among prisoners and security personnel.

The riots mostly occurred in Block B of the prison compound, with videos showing prisoners protesting the health situation in the prison which is heavily overcrowded, breaking cell doors and causing chaos.

One inmate said that “the situation is difficult in the prison,” and that no one is paying attention to them or taking them to hospitals.

The Internal Security Forces said in a statement Saturday that 13 inmates were infected by coronavirus in addition to nine security personnel, detected from PCR tests administered on Sept. 8.

Prisoners who were infected with the virus were transferred to a building to quarantine, the ISF statement said, adding that the health situation at the Roumieh prison is under control as of now, with more PCR tests to be administered for those who came into contact with infected people.

According to the statement, all coronavirus prevention measures were being taken at the prison since the virus was detected in Lebanon on Feb. 21.

Roumieh is known to be overcrowded, with cells holding triple their capacity, with little medical care and medicine available for inmates.

Families of prisoners protested in front of the Justice Palace in Beirut Monday, demanding the release of their relatives fearing a coronavirus outbreak in the prison, and calling for the passage of the General Amnesty law, a demand that has been voiced by them for a decade.

The controversial General Amnesty law was discussed during a Parliament session back in April, but was not passed due to a number of disagreements among MPs on whether or not to include certain types of crimes.

If promulgated, the law would allow the release of thousands of prisoners arrested for misdemeanors and criminal acts such as drug use and using firearms for celebratory purposes.

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