European Report Tackles Need for Lebanon to Improve Roumieh Jail, Combat Terrorismإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
A European report warned that Lebanon is facing dangers from regional jihadists, while highlighting the threat of Islamists in the overcrowded Roumieh Prison, said As Safir newspaper on Thursday.
The report, prepared by European Union Counter-terrorism Coordinator Gilles de Kerchove, explained that western jihadists are threatening Lebanon and its stability, adding that the Lebanese officials' decision to stand by and wait for the worst to happen is not a solution to this problem.
They therefore sought foreign aid to tackle this security issue.
De Kerchove compiled his report after holding talks with a number of Lebanese security officials during a visit he made to Lebanon months ago.
The European counter-terrorism experts positively evaluated their meetings with Lebanese officials, stressing in their report that they are keen on reaching a way to cooperate with the EU on several issues, most notably security ones.
De Kerchove's report spoke of the need to construct a new fortified prison in Lebanon to resolve the case of overcrowding in Roumieh, adding that Lebanon needs support in transferring Islamist inmates from Roumieh to the new jail.
A high-ranking diplomatic source told As Safir that Roumieh is one of the main sources of security tensions in Lebanon.
The European report also tackled Lebanon's request to aid its army in order to thwart the infiltration of jihadists through its porous borders.
It said that Lebanese officials requested assistance in setting up the third army regiment dedicated to monitoring the border and protecting the nearby regions.
The diplomat highlighted the flaws in monitoring the border in the western Bekaa region, especially in al-Qalamoun and Arsal areas.
He revealed that European countries, especially Britain, are receptive of the idea of bolstering border surveillance in Lebanon.
Setting up surveillance towers along the border is among the options being considered to that end, he told As Safir.
Security agencies have intensified their efforts to control Lebanon's land, air, and maritime borders given the recent bombings in the country and infiltration of terrorists, reported al-Liwaa newspaper in June.
In addition, the European and Lebanese officials also addressed the possibility of providing European aid to establish a national strategy to combat terrorism, said de Kerchove's report.
Lebanese authorities seek support in placing a national strategy and laws to combat terrorism, said the report.
This will take place alongside projects to train judges and the General Prosecution in combating terror, it continued.
The diplomatic source noted however that Lebanon has a counter-terrorism law, but it has not been updated to meet recent challenges.
In March, Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq established a two-stage plan to resolve the situation at Roumieh Prison and improve the conditions of the inmates.
Roumieh, the oldest and largest of Lebanon's overcrowded prisons, has witnessed sporadic prison breaks in recent years and escalating riots over the past months as inmates living in poor conditions demand better treatment.
During the first stage of the plan, Mashnouq seeks to equip a new facility near the prison to accommodate around 700 to 1000 inmate.
The second stage, which needs around a year to be accomplished, will see the establishment of a new facility for dangerous prisoners, who will have a separate court room.
Corruption, negligence and the maltreatment of inmates are rampant at Roumieh as some inmates have access to cellphone, internet connection and soft arms.