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Roumieh prison's juveniles to be relocated to new center.

Summary: Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk Friday launched a new European Union-funded program that will establish a juvenile detention center in Warwar.

BEIRUT: Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk Friday launched a new European Union-funded program that will establish a juvenile detention center in Warwar. The program, which aims to improve criminal justice in Lebanon, was launched in a ceremony held by the Interior Ministry, the United Nations and the EU at the former Internal Security Forces academy in Mount Lebanon's Warwar.

"This program is more than an achievement, it is a blessing," Machnouk said after thanking the EU for its support, according to an EU statement. "Young detainees [will be able to] go on with their lives after rehabilitation, without it affecting their future."

The center is expected to undergo renovation for the next 18 months, after which juvenile detainees will be relocated from Roumieh prison -- where young people mix with adult prisoners -- to what is slated to be an environment that better complies with international standards for juvenile detention.

"Mixing juveniles with Roumieh prison inmates is an inhumane and completely irrational, and however we try, we cannot provide legal rights that comply with international standards under a prison system that is 60 years old," local media quoted Machnouk as saying.

Also speaking at the event, EU Ambassador to Lebanon Christina Lassen said that a "strong judicial institution and a state based on rule of law is the foundation" for Lebanon's security and affirmed the EU's ongoing support for it.

"We showed this [support] again at the Rome conference, where [EU foreign policy chief Federica] Mogherini pledged another 50 million euros [around $62 million] in support to the [Lebanese Army] and ISF," Lassen said of the Rome II conference that took place March 15 and aimed to garner support for Lebanon's security apparatuses.

She added that reforming the Lebanese justice system had long been a priority of the EU.

According to the EU statement, UNICEF will also work on reducing the number of children arrested in Lebanon and work on finding state alternatives to detention. The U.N.'s Drugs and Crime office will meanwhile work on improving conditions of detainees and provide support for social reintegration for those charged with terrorism-related crimes.

Lassen thanked the Lebanese side -- including various ministries, the Lebanese Army, ISF and the Beirut Bar Association -- for cooperating on the program.

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Publication:The Daily Star (Beirut, Lebanon)
Date:Mar 24, 2018
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