Beirut, July 5th 2017 – The Lebanese Center for Human Rights (CLDH) strongly condemns the acts of torture committed by the army during a wave of arrests in Arsal, which led to the death of at least four detainees, and calls for the opening of an independent investigation and respect for the rights of those still detained.
In the preamble of Lebanon’s Constitution, in paragraph – b – Lebanon expresses its firm determination to respect the United Nations Charters and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The latter makes it clear in its Article 5 that no one shall be subjected to torture. Lebanon has also been a party to the Convention against Torture since 2000.
Yet on Friday 30th of June, the media reported a raid by the Lebanese army and mass arrests in two Syrian refugee camps near the town of Arsal.
Alarming photos broadcasted by the media and not refuted by the army showed dozens of detainees lying face down, handcuffed in the back by plastic ties, some with their shirts wrapped on their faces, under the sun.
Another picture shows men kneeling, and one of them handcuffed in the back, the shirt on his head, with a paint spray inscription on the back, just like branded livestock heading to the slaughterhouse. Similarly, detainees piled one on top of another in an army truck at the feet of a soldier can be seen on one of the photos. One of them bears serious marks of beatings on his back.
Even worse, on July 4th, the army reported that four of the detainees had died of chronic diseases aggravated “by weather conditions”. In reality, these detainees may have died of chronic diseases (this yet remains to be evidenced), however, they have not been aggravated by weather conditions but by the torture inflicted on them by the army. This army is supposed to be responsible for maintaining security and fighting terrorism instead of violating human rights and encouraging terrorism.
We strongly condemn what has happened since last Friday, the spread of degrading images that document the arrests, the torture of detainees and the systematic campaign of intimidation against any person or organizations who raised their voice to criticize the illegal procedures used by the armed forces.
The Lebanese Center for Human Rights condemns the flagrant and repeated violation of domestic and international laws during each military operation and the lack of transparency and impunity for the perpetrators of these crimes, which encourages them to repeat the very same crimes.
We demand from the Judiciary and the Ministry of Defense:
• To initiate an immediate judicial inquiry into the four cases of death under torture recognized by the army, and allow the examination of the remains by an independent forensic doctor appointed by the families.
• To allow families, relatives of inmates and relevant associations to appoint independent lawyers who can interview all inmates privately.
• To publish a detailed list of names of detainees and places of detention and allow the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and their lawyers and families to visit them immediately.
• To immediately arrest every officer or soldier whose participation in the torture has been proved until the publication of the judicial decisions.
The fight against terrorism cannot be achieved by importing the methods of terrorist groups, by intimidating, torturing and murdering, but instead by scrupulous law enforcement and strict observance of the Lebanese Constitution and international commitments of Lebanon.
The confession by the Lebanese army of the death of at least four people under torture should shake the conscience of all concerned persons so that Lebanon does not turn into the neighboring dictatorships.
The only safeguard for peace and security to all of us is the respect of justice and the condemnation of criminals.