Lebanon’s Cabinet approved an urgent draft law to pardon prisoners who have completed their sentences but are still imprisoned for failing to pay their due fines, Information Minister Manal Abdel Samad told the press.
The decision, which was undertaken during a Cabinet session chaired by Prime Minister Hassan Diab at the Grand Serail, came in response to the inmates of Roumieh prison revolting on Monday.
The riots that ensued were reportedly due to their fear of the spread of Coronavirus throughout the prison, and their anger at the long-awaited general amnesty law that hasn’t passed yet.
Security forces intervened in order to contain the situation, as videos of violence surfaced on MTV news and other media outlets.
The General Amnesty law, which could potentially include clauses that would apply to those charged with everything from terrorism to assault against the Lebanese Army, to drugs and fraud, is yet to be endorsed by Parliament.
In response to reporters’ question, the Minister of Information refused to give details on the number of prisoners to be pardoned and the sum of their due fines.
She did state, however, that Interior Minister Muhammad Fahmi presented some figures on the number of the current inmates in Roumieh prison.
Ministers’ discussions also focused on the measures currently being undertaken by the Cabinet in order to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus – so far infecting 133 people and taking the lives of four in Lebanon.
On Coronavirus containment Abdel Samad quoted Diab in saying: “The government is doing its job to protect the Lebanese without dereliction and is working to limit the spread of this virus.”
The prime minister further pointed out, according to Abdel Samad, that the Cabinet’s decision to declare a state of health emergency and general mobilization across the country to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus had been met with “satisfaction among the Lebanese and a good response.”
She said the Cabinet agreed to set up a special fund to receive donations from the Lebanese and non-Lebanese to face the Coronavirus crisis.
Abdel Samad said the government called on every person in Lebanon and abroad to “donate to this fund in this difficult stage.”
She added that Health Minister Hamad Hasan would present the Cabinet on Thursday with an inventory of the government and private hospitals that are ready and equipped to receive people infected with the Coronavirus.