BEIRUT: More than 30 people fled a Lebanon detention centre at dawn on Sunday, security forces said, after sawing their way through a window, according to a judicial official.
“At dawn... 31 detainees managed to escape” from a detention centre in the Adlieh district of the capital Beirut, the Internal Security Forces said in a statement. “Immediate orders were given to arrest them and investigations are underway.”
The detainees broke past a prison window using a saw smuggled into the facility, said a judicial official close to an investigation into the incident. “The escapees include Lebanese, Syrians and Palestinians, among other foreigners,” he said.
On Sunday morning, a correspondent saw security forces and army personnel deployed in the Beirut neighbourhood housing the jail.
The Adlieh detention centre was formerly controlled by Lebanon’s General Security agency but is now manged by the country’s prison authority.
It was notorious for abuses committed against detained Syrian refugees and foreign migrant domestic workers, according to rights groups, including Human Rights Watch. Bassam al-Kantar of Lebanon’s National Human Rights Commission said the facility was among the country’s worst, suffering from overcrowding, foul sewage smells and lack of ventilation and sunlight.
“Detainees are malnourished... and are not allowed to receive food from their families,” he said.
“Healthcare is also non-existent, with a large number of detainees suffering from skin diseases,” mainly due to lack of hygiene measures in the facility, he added.
The prison break came as Lebanon grapples with an unprecedented economic crisis that has seen the value of the Lebanese pound lose more than 90 percent of its value against the dollar on the black market.
Inflation has skyrocketed and public sector salaries have plummeted to record lows, forcing a large number of soldiers and other members of the security forces to quit in order to try to eke out an alternative living.
The crisis has also further degraded Lebanon’s already dismal jails, with poor conditions and lack of medical care regularly sparking prion riots and unrest.
Published in Dawn, August 8th, 2022