Improving the Criminal Justice System through Support to Penal Reform (Phase I)

Project Status: Completed

Project Duration: 01/2008 - 06/2010

Total Budget: US$ 1,037,700

Donors: Netherlands, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the French Embassy


The Ministry of Justice with close coordination with the Ministry of Interior

Target Groups

1. Roumieh prison in Beirut

2. Prison Service Officials and those involved in technical assistance or training activities, namely:

  • Officials and staff of the Ministry of Justice and other relevant ministries;
  • Prison staff, magistrates, and lawyers;
  • The Judiciary Institute, the Police Academy, and universities;
  • Prison inmates and their families;
  • Social workers active in prison settings or in aftercare;
  • Civil society and NGOs; and
  • Media.

Outline and Objectives

This project is designed to ensure the implementation of penal reform aimed at both the transfer of prison administration from the Ministry of Interior to the Ministry of Justice, and the overall improvement of prison conditions, including the reduction of prison overcrowding. The immediate objectives include:

  1. Revision of the legislative framework to be in line with international standards and norms, including alternatives to imprisonment (parole, probation, early release);
  2. Establishment of an efficient penitentiary administration within the Ministry of Justice;
  3. Improved rehabilitation and treatment programmes for prisoners through the fulfillment of their rights to access treatment, education, and family relations;
  4. Development of specialized training for the penitentiary administration staff to increase their capacity in executing a penal policy in accordance with United Nations and international standards; and
  5. Promotion of the role and participation of civil society in detention centres/prisons, particularly in relation to the provision of post release services.

Key Achievements

  • A national committee to ensure the smooth transfer of the penitentiary administration from Ministry of Interior to Ministry of Justice established.
  • A prison administration within the Ministry of Justice capable of designing and implementing prison reform policies based on data collected centrally established.
  • A new case flow management programme "BASEM" linked to the Ministry of Justice for the purpose of impact sustainability created.
  • The situation in the Roumieh Prison improved in terms of rehabilitation and treatment, inmate access to services such as social assistance and education as well as income generating activities.
  • A family visiting area in Roumieh Prison established under the auspices of the Ministry of Justice allowing the improvement and the maintenance of social and family relations through the continued engagement of prisoners in the community rather than their exclusion.
  • A training capacity within the Judiciary Institute developed with a view to improve the skills of senior management and prison staff to effectively manage the prisons in line with the relevant United Nations standards and norms.
  • The early release law which would have a positive impact on prison overcrowding Implemented.
  • A government commitment to construct two new prisons, fully funded by the 2010 budget of Ministry of Interior obtained.