Date: Jan 26, 2019
Source: The Daily Star
20 inmates in Lebanese prison released after UAE pays off bail, unpaid fines
BEIRUT: Twenty inmates being held at Tripoli’s Qibbeh prison over unpaid fines were released Friday as part of a joint initiative of north Lebanon’s governor and the Emirati ambassador to improve prison conditions in their countries.

North Lebanon Governor Ramzi Nohra told The Daily Star that some of the prisoners had completed their sentences but were still being held over unpaid fines, while others had been eligible for bail they were unable to pay.

UAE Ambassador to Lebanon Hamad al-Shamsi facilitated a donation of LL50 million ($33,000) to pay off the fines for the prisoners, who had been held for various unspecified crimes.

Nohra said the prisoners were selected based only on their financial need, and that it was not related to religion, politics or nationality.

The governor had received Shamsi at the Tripoli Serail before they visited Qibbeh together and inspected its facilities.

Embassy staff also helped distribute food supplies and over 100 blankets to prisoners.

The embassy’s donations came as part of a wider Emeriti initiative that “began in the UAE and is continuing in north Lebanon” to improve prison conditions, the state-run National News Agency quoted the ambassador as saying.

The initiative is just one of many that are part of the country’s “Year of Tolerance,” he said.

The UAE government announced late last year that 2019 would be known as the Year of Tolerance, to “highlight the UAE as a global capital for tolerance,” according to the UAE government’s website.

Nohra said the Qibbeh inmate release was the first time such an initiative was launched in Lebanon, but that Lebanese and Emirati stakeholders are hoping to roll it out to other prisons in other northern cities such as Batroun and Zgharta, before expanding nationwide.