Search operation underway after Lebanon prison break

Search operation underway after Lebanon prison break
Lebanon’s security forces deploy on a street with access to a detention center under the Adlieh (Palace of Justice) Bridge in Beirut following Sunday’s dawn prison break. (AFP)
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Updated 08 August 2022

Search operation underway after Lebanon prison break

Search operation underway after Lebanon prison break
  • Sunday’s escape ‘reflects magnitude of problems,’ says parliamentary committee chief
  • Police official warns that country’s jails are three times over capacity

BEIRUT: A group of prisoners escaped from a prison in Beirut on Sunday, with the Lebanese Internal Security Forces’ Investigation Unit subsequently arresting four out of 31 escapees a day later.

“Work is underway to arrest the remaining detainees who escaped from Beirut’s prison,” the directorate general of the Internal Security Forces said.

The group of escaped prisoners includes Lebanese, Syrian, Palestinian and other nationals, he added.

A security source told Arab News that the detainees “managed to saw off the bars of one of the cell’s windows overlooking the street using a screw.”

The prison is located under a bridge close to the Justice Palace in Beirut and is subject to the authority of Lebanon’s prison administration, but was previously controlled by the General Security Service.

A huge organized escape operation took place in the Baabda jail on Nov. 21, 2021, during which five detainees died in a car accident while escaping, and others were detained.

Riots are a frequent event in Lebanese jails, with prisoners demanding better living conditions.

MP Michel Moussa, head of the Parliamentary Committee for Human Rights, questioned how 31 detainees could escape a facility that is presumably guarded and secured.

He told Arab News: “We have not received any answer to this question yet because the investigations are still ongoing.”

The MP added: “We have already asked for this so-called Adlieh prison built a few years ago to be shut down, as it does not provide the bare minimum on all levels. We were promised several times that it will be shut down, but this did not happen.

“What’s certain is that the prison does not meet any human-friendly criteria.

“Apparently, security bodies are using it again as a jail for the detainees of Beirut’s Justice Palace in light of prison overcrowding.”

Moussa added that Sunday’s escape reflected the magnitude of economic, security and judicial issues in Lebanon.

In response to increasing numbers of people being detained without trial, the MP demanded an end to the practice, adding that courts should be reactivated, and that the circumstances in Lebanon do not justify delays.

More than 80 percent of Lebanon’s population lives below the poverty line due to the acute economic crisis in the country.

As salaries dwindle, the economic crisis has led to a significant number of soldiers and security personnel fleeing from service or resigning to look for other jobs, or even migrate.

Military and security higher-ups are turning a blind eye to the fact that many soldiers and security officers are working second jobs.

Col. Joseph Moussallem, head of the Internal Security Forces’ Public Relations Division, told Arab News that the economic circumstances of police officers “do not affect their line of duty.”

He said that an increased number of arrests shows that crime continues to be under control in Lebanon, but admitted that the reform process had declined in prisons.

According to Internal Security Forces data, many prisoners have long criminal records and have been handed repeat prison sentences.

He added that prison overcrowding was causing problems, although “we are doing whatever it takes to carry out reforms and civil organizations are trying to help.”

Moussallem said that state and private property thefts were among the most frequent offenses taking place in the country.

On Sunday, residents in Hermel in Bekaa protested outside a store in the city following an armed robbery and shooting.

Residents blocked a road and carried signs that said: “Enforce security. Do not cover for perpetrators. Prosecute them and refer them to courts so they can receive the appropriate punishment.”

Sheikh Ali Taha, the mufti of Hermel, said: “What’s happening in the region is a weird phenomenon.”

He called on officials to urgently intervene and reduce crime in order to avoid the threat of vigilante justice.

In the Lebanese northern region of Koura, the Association of Olive Farmers denounced “the theft of seasonal crops in the region.”

In a statement, the association said that “every morning, a group of professional thieves pick our unripe crops and steal iron barrels, electric wires, iron fences and beehives. We can no longer stand this.”

Col. Moussallem estimated the total number of prisoners and detainees in the country to be about “9,000 individuals,” adding that Lebanon’s prisons were designed to only house about 3,000 people at maximum capacity.

He said that thefts and other offenses had decreased by 6.5 percent this year compared to last year.


UN Yemen envoy expresses regret after truce expires without being extended

UN Yemen envoy expresses regret after truce expires without being extended
Updated 12 sec ago

UN Yemen envoy expresses regret after truce expires without being extended

UN Yemen envoy expresses regret after truce expires without being extended

RIYADH: The UN Special Envoy for Yemen Hans Grundberg expressed regret on Sunday that an agreement to extend and expand the truce in the country had not been reached.

“The truce that began on April.2, 2022 has offered a truly historic opportunity for Yemen. Building on the positive outcomes of the past six months, I submitted another proposal to the parties on Oct.1 to extend the truce for another six months, with additional elements,” Grundberg said in a statement.

The ceasefire has twice been renewed since April. 2 but expired on Sunday without being extended.

The proposal included the payment of civil servant salaries and pensions, the opening of specific roads in Taiz and other governorates, additional destinations for flights to and from Sanaa airport, unhindered entry of fuel ships into Hodeidah port, strengthening deescalation mechanisms, and a commitment to urgently release detainees, the envoy said.

It also included the initiation of negotiations for a ceasefire, the resumption of an inclusive political process, and economic issues.

The envoy said that the extended and expanded truce would provide additional critical benefits to Yemen’s population.

He thanked the Yemeni government for engaging positively with his proposal and said he will continue to work with both sides to find solutions.

“I am grateful for the constructive engagement at the leadership level from both sides over the past weeks. And I appreciate the position of the government of Yemen on engaging positively with my proposal. I will continue to work with both sides to try and find solutions,” Grundberg said.

The envoy urged the parties to maintain calm and refrain from provocations or any actions that could lead to an escalation of violence in the war-torn country.

“I urge them to fulfil their obligation to the Yemeni people to pursue every avenue for peace. Ultimately, Yemenis need an end to the conflict through an inclusive political process and a negotiated settlement. I will continue my relentless efforts to engage with the parties to quickly reach an agreement on a way forward,” he said.


King Abdullah II to make official visit to Oman

King Abdullah II to make official visit to Oman
Updated 8 min 10 sec ago

King Abdullah II to make official visit to Oman

King Abdullah II to make official visit to Oman
  • Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Sultan Haitham bin Tarik will meet in Muscat

AMMAN: Jordan’s King Abdullah II, accompanied by Queen Rania and Crown Prince Hussein bin Abdullah, will arrive in Oman on Tuesday for an official visit.

The king’s trip comes after an invitation from Sultan Haitham bin Tarik, Jordan News Agency reported.

During the two day visit, the two leaders will hold talks in Muscat about their deep bilateral ties as well as the most recent regional and international developments.

 


Jordan, Qatar discuss security cooperation

Jordan, Qatar discuss security cooperation
Updated 16 min 13 sec ago

Jordan, Qatar discuss security cooperation

Jordan, Qatar discuss security cooperation
  • Jordanian official noted its keenness to support Qatar during the World Cup

AMMAN: Jordan’s Director of the Public Security Directorate and the Qatari Ambassador to Jordan met on Sunday to discuss strengthening security and police cooperation, particularly in training, Petra News Agency reported.

Brig Gen Obaidullah Maaytah spoke with Sheikh Saud Bin Nasser Al-Thani about Jordan’s deep ties with Qatar, noting that the PSD was eager to support Qatar during the World Cup.

In turn, Al-Thani praised the PSD and emphasized the level of cooperation between Jordanian and Qatari police, urging continued efforts to expand bilateral cooperation.

 


Prince Abdulaziz bin Talal launches first edition of Arab Climate Forum

Prince Abdulaziz bin Talal launches first edition of Arab Climate Forum
Updated 48 min 37 sec ago

Prince Abdulaziz bin Talal launches first edition of Arab Climate Forum

Prince Abdulaziz bin Talal launches first edition of Arab Climate Forum
  • AGFUND president says Arab countries are among most vulnerable to climate change

RIYADH: Prince Abdulaziz bin Talal, president of the Arab Gulf Program for Development (AGFUND), launched the first edition of the Arab Climate Forum on Sunday, Saudi Press Agency reported.

The forum, titled “Together to Strengthen Civil Society’s Contribution to Climate Action and Sustainability,” will assess the social, economic and environmental consequences of climate change.

Over two days, the agenda will include six axes: Climate change and sustainability, climate change and its impact on the most vulnerable groups, encouraging innovation for the benefit of adaptation and mitigation, climate change and fragile economic activities, integrating citizens and local communities in climate action, and the role of systemic change in green transformation.

As part of the ongoing preparations for COP27 in Egypt’s Sharm El-Sheikh in November, the forum is being held in collaboration with the Egyptian Ministry of Environment, the League of Arab States, AGFUND, the Arab Council for Childhood and Development and the Arab Network for NGOs.

Egyptian Minister of Environment Dr. Yasmine Fouad and Head of Social Affairs at the Arab League Ambassador Haifa Abu Ghazaleh are also taking part in the forum.

In his opening speech, Prince Abdulaziz bin Talal said that the world’s unprecedented climatic phenomena were not a coincidence. He argued that climate change should be fought by increasing the use of renewable energy sources as well as adaptation through proactive transformations.

The AGFUND president added that Arab countries are among the most vulnerable and affected regions in the world as a result of climate change and that effective climate action has become a common moral commitment for all, urging all development parties to take their responsibilities seriously and responsibly in order to keep the planet fit for sustainable living.

He lauded efforts to address climate challenges, including the Prince Talal International Prize for Development 2021, which has four branches dedicated to climate change. He noted that the four winners would be honored at COP27.
 


Hundreds protest in Turkey in support of Iranian women

Hundreds protest in Turkey in support of Iranian women
Updated 02 October 2022

Hundreds protest in Turkey in support of Iranian women

Hundreds protest in Turkey in support of Iranian women
  • In Istanbul, many Iranians were among the hundreds of people who chanted slogans against the Tehran regime and in support of Iranian women
  • Women held red roses, Iranian flags and signs bearing the words “women, life, freedom”

ISTANBUL: Hundreds of protesters took to the streets in Turkey on Sunday to condemn Iran’s crackdown on women-led demonstrations sparked by a young woman’s death after her arrest by the country’s notorious morality police.
In Istanbul, many Iranians were among the hundreds of people who chanted slogans against the Tehran regime and in support of Iranian women.
Women held red roses, Iranian flags and signs bearing the words “women, life, freedom,” the battle cry of the protest movement that has rocked Iran and was triggered last month by the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian Kurd.
In Diyarbakir, a southeastern city with a majority Kurdish population, around 200 people gathered brandishing photographs of Iranian women killed in the crackdown and a large banner with the slogan “women, life, freedom” in Kurdish, an AFP correspondent reported.
A demonstration in solidarity with Iranian women attended by hundreds of people was also held in the western city of Izmir on Saturday evening, according to images published on social media and verified by AFP.
At least 92 people have been killed in Iran since the start of the protests two weeks ago, Norway-based NGO Iran Human Rights said on Sunday.