The Adlieh Detention Center: A Living Hell

The Adlieh Detention Center
The Adlieh Detention Center

“I fell down on my knees, covering my eyes from the bright sunlight that I didn’t see for 12 months, 12 months! Can you imagine!? And the fresh air.” That’s how one migrant described his release from the General ‘Security’ Detention Center in Adlieh. Barbaric would be an apt description of the Adlieh center, a location many of us pass by on a daily basis. Heartless, cruel, unfair, unjust, repulsive. You take your pick.

Formerly an underground parking lot, this detention center is now the home of around 800 migrant workers, refugees and asylum seekers – the detention center’s capacity is 250. According to the Lebanese Center for Human Rights (CLDH), “migrants, asylum seekers and refugees are detained illegally in an underground parking lot where they never see the sunlight and suffer terrible detention conditions for sometimes very prolonged periods of time, with the aim to either punish them for leaving their sponsor, entering illegally in the country, or to oblige refugees to accept their deportation to their country of origin.”

I contacted the CLDH to ask them as to the supposed reason for such bad conditions. In their opinion, “the authorities are purposefully inflicting such bad conditions to the migrants and the refugees to deter illegal immigration, or to force the persons to “accept” their “voluntary repatriation” to their country of origin in violation of their basic rights. Hence, refugees who claim they are in danger in their country of origin finally sign that they accept their deportation because they cannot stand anymore the conditions – female migrant domestic workers accept to depart Lebanon without having been given their rights (for example, some did not take their salaries for months from their employer or have been abused sexually and hence cannot sue the perpetrator).”

A protest is planned this Thursday the 26th -UPDATE: protest is postponed to the 18th of July, International Nelson Mandela day, for security reasons – at 6pm to protest conditions that can only be qualified as torture. Indeed the CLDH states that “foreigners detained at the General Security detention center suffer miserable conditions without knowing the potential duration of their detention that is not supervised by the judiciary. Despite the intentions expressed by the State to improve at least the detention conditions in the place, no changes have taken place so far. This represents for the inmates a very serious mental suffering that is intentionally inflicted to them by state agents. This is the very definition of torture.”

Lebanon is a signatory of the United Nations Convention against Torture (since 5 October 2000) and it is under that responsibility that we must demand the immediate closure of the Adlieh Center.

Here are a few images of the Adlieh Center:

Newly released video by the CLDH: Testimony of a person who was arbitrarily detained in Lebanon and who was also in the General Security detention center in Adlieh.

A 22-year old woman from Bangladesh who has been in Lebanon since 2009 tells us of her struggle with Lebanon’s cruel arbitrary detention system. She was accused of stealing 5,000$ by her Kafeel (owner/sponsor). She stayed 6 days in a Jounieh prison and then 13 days in Baabda and then 8 months in Tripoli before being declared innocent by a judge. After being declared innocent she stayed 6 days at the General ‘Security’ center in Adlieh before being released with the help of human rights activists and lawyers. She’s now waiting for a way to get out of Lebanon with her Iraqi husband with the help of the UN. She says that she wants to go to the US because she has found nothing but problems in Lebanon.
Correction: The CLDH has informed me that “the video was shot for Valentine’s Day 2013 and that the woman in the video has already traveled to USA with her Iraqi husband.”


The protest is organized by the CLDH (link), Nasawiya (link), Anti-Racism Movement (link), ACAT-France (link) and Alkarama for Human Rights (link).

I’ll be there and I urge you all to do the same.

Update 18th of July 2014:

A group of Lebanese activists gathered in front of the Adlieh Detention Center to protest the abysmal living conditions that over 250 migrants are forced to live in. More protests will be organized soon until the detention center is abolished.

LBC video report: The Soul of Nelson Mandela lives on in Lebanon


5 thoughts on “The Adlieh Detention Center: A Living Hell

  1. I so wish I could join you in person, in your outrage and protest for the closure of Adlieh. I was detained briefly in Adlieh last year and witnessed what can only be described as impossible. It is impossible to me even now that Adlieh exists, continues to exist and that people are imprisoned there without access to communication with their families, sunlight, exercise, medical care……..

    I wish you well and would like to submit this to you as a token of my esteem for your efforts. Feel free to use it as you like. I would be so honored to have someone read it there for me.


    Meg Swaid
    Bisbee, AZ, USA

    Chinese Water Torture

    There are no shadows there
    where shadows are only
    the presence of space
    real space, the kind
    in which are planets,
    focal doldrums are
    continuums. The Tennessee=s
    and Carolinas, the buoys.
    Prisoners ride through
    the well- lit nights
    of Adlieh
    with water bottles
    under the heads
    for comfort.
    Every other day
    90 women X 4 move from one side
    of the cell to the other,
    right now,
    day after tomorrow
    and then.
    Upon the floor are
    crumbs, big wads
    of coarse, mostly blackened hair,
    a trail of sewage:
    a fragrance of Dettol
    returns a mountain meadow
    to the dungeon
    which is cleaned,
    usually before bed,
    after the one bucket
    of bland rice is divvied
    and devoured, group
    by sullen talkative group.
    Before the Pentacosts begin
    the heretical whore cries
    between the Catholics
    and Nepalese, who bicker
    until the wee hours of the morn
    fighting for space in which
    to gain at least an hour’s nap.
    One of them particularly vicious
    in her attack upon
    half of the Joumanas
    Her shirt reads, unbelievably:
    Make Peace Happen
    no doubt from a baley
    shipped out from
    a Salvation Army center
    in Houston.
    I look at her and fold
    my hands together,
    Namaste sister, Namaste
    as if I am a magician
    the bars of the world
    fall down.

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