Under the Auspices of the Minister of Information, Mr. Ramzi Jreij, the partners, Lebanese Women Democratic Gathering, Dar Al Amal, Caritas Lebanon Migrant Center and Diakonia, organized exhibition of media materials on women prisons, within the project “Promoting Human Rights Policy and Practice in Lebanese Women Prisons” funded by the European Union and co-funded by the Swedish International Development Agency.
The exhibition, which took place in Unesco Palace on Tuesday the 6th of May 2014, aimed to employ the media as much as possible in the service of women prisons as a human rights cause, with the aim of improvement and development.
“We want media to play a constructive role to improve the situation of women’s prisons in Lebanon,” stated Rodolph Gebrael, Diakonia Representative in Lebanon.
Gebrael delivered the partners speech welcoming the official and diplomatic presence and the audience. He spoke about the project, which was launched from inside Baabda prison in July 2012, with the aim of improving the conditions in women’s prisons in Lebanon to go in line with international standards of human rights; the project nowis inits final stages,but work and efforts areprogressing.
The Director of the National News Agency, Laure Sleiman, representing the Minister of Information Ramzi Jreij, spoke about the essential role that the ministry of Information should play in supporting such activities and she paid tribute to the work done by some media institutions in investigative reports that support such causes; also stressing on the role of the government in improving the situation of the prisons, especially in regards to the special needs of women prisoners.
The Minister Counsellor, of the Delegation of the European Union to Lebanon Marcello Mori, stated that Lebanon has undertaken a number of steps to align prison conditions with international standards; however, numerous challenges remain and they do not only relate to the need to rehabilitate and renew prison infrastructure.
“The alarming figures of pre-trial detention are a serious concern. The European Union has repeatedly called on Lebanon to do more to improve prison conditions and to accelerate pending civil and criminal procedures”.
In his turn, the Sweden Ambassador in Lebanon, Niklas Kebbon, considered that “a democratic society based on human rights must be constantly upheld and defended, at all times, in all countries.” He said that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, of which Lebanon was one of the original signatories, declares that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights; pointing that prisoners, just like all other people, are entitled to enjoy their human rights, it is therefore very encouraging that there are initiatives in Lebanon that seeks to protect also the weakest members, the prisoners.
At the end, ManarZaiter, the coordinator of the project at the Lebanese Women Democratic Gathering, spoke about the event and the training and competition that preceded it, about the evaluation committee that enclosed lawyers, judges, journalists and human rights figures, and about the participants and their media pieces, announcing the best two materials that covered women prisons as a human rights cause, and distributing certificates to the whole participants who contributed to producing different materials on women prisons. Zaiter stated that the materials will be sent to the Ministry of Interior to be exhibited there, and will be published in different media channels including the project website and social media pages.