Inmates sentenced to life in prison or to death will not benefit from a draft
law that reduces prison sentences from a year to nine months, the chair of
Parliament’s Justice and Administration Committee said Monday.
After a committee meeting in advance of Wednesday’s legislative session, during
which Parliament is set to vote on the new penal law and a number of other
issues, MP Robert Ghanem said inmates sentenced to less than one year will also
have their sentences reduced.
“A prison year in general would become nine months, for those who have
sentences of less than one year, every month would be counted as 20 days,”
Ghanem told reporters after he chaired a meeting of lawmakers who have been
working on the draft law since 2009.
“However, those who are convicted of repeating the same crime for which they
had served a sentence before would also not benefit from the new penal law,”
At least 4 prisoners were killed and nearly 10 were injured at Roumieh prison
last spring when rioters in the complex confronted the Internal Security Forces
and the Lebanese Army.
Inmates in the country’s prisons and their families have repeatedly protested
against poor conditions and overcrowding, staging hunger strikes and protests.
In addition to calling for the sentence reduction, prisoners, their families
and activists have called for a general amnesty.
To reduce the pressure on the overcrowded Roumieh prison, Lebanon’s largest,
Cabinet and Parliament have both held talks on the establishment of new
Deputy Prime Minister Samir Mokbel announced last week that an agreement had
been reached among the Cabinet ministers on the locations of two new prisons,
which are to be built in north and south Lebanon.
Ghanem said future verdicts should clearly specify whether a convict has
already committed the same offense to avoid any confusion in the implementation
of the new law.
“Based on Law 258 of the Penal Code, the verdict must specify whether the
convict is repeating a crime,” Ghanem said.
When asked whether Parliament would approve the draft law, Ghanem said reducing
the prison year to nine months is part of the new prison policy that Parliament
He added that after parliamentary approval the policy would be transferred to
the Justice Ministry for implementation because the ministry was set to take
over prison administration from the ISF in approximately 3 years.
(source: The Daily Star)