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July 16, 2012 / Man in the Mirror Human rights in Lebanese women’s prisons gains EU support

The Head of the Delegation of the European Union (EU), Ambassador Angelina Eichhorst, and General Joseph Douaihy, Commander of the Gendarmerie, today launched, in the central women’s prison in Baabda the EU-funded project “Promoting Human Rights Policy and Practice in Lebanese Women’s Prisons.”

This project aims to improve the quality of legal, social and health support provided to female prisoners in four women’s prisons located in Baabda, Tripoli, Zahle and Beirut, in close cooperation with the prisons’ authorities. It aims specifically to improve the conditions in women’s prisons in order for them to meet international human rights standards. The project will employed over a 30 months period by the non-governmental organizationDiakonia in close collaboration with its counterparts CaritasDar Al Amal and Rassemblement Democratique des Femmes.

In 2008, Joelle Giappesi, a former prisoner at Baabda prison for women, Bar Bar al-Khazen prison and Tripoli Modern prison, penned the book, “Les murs ne font pas la prison.” Giappesi’s memoir describes in length the conditions for female prisoners in Lebanon. Giappesi toldNOWLebanon that she is haunted by the emotional trauma of her sentence and by the memory of the desperate conditions she endured. The prisons she was held in had no showers, offered no counseling, and the food was sometimes infested with cockroaches. Her only exposure to sunlight came when she was briefly assigned to take out garbage: “I was ready to become friends with the rats and cockroaches which lived in the garbage in order to be able to get out five minutes a day,” she recalled.

Implementation of the EU project will be accomplished by developing the competence of prison authorities to uphold the human rights of women detainees and prisoners, enhancing the legal and social support to women detainees and prisoners to claim their rights and report abuses, mobilizing civil society stakeholders on gender equality and human rights considerations, and promoting regulatory improvements by proposing changes in legislation.


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