Lebanon must act against torture of detainees, human rights groups warn


Human rights groups, including Human Rights Watch (HRW), call on Lebanese authorities to protect people from torture and ill-treatment while in detention.

HRW, in observance of the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture on Monday said that “despite an improvement to Lebanon’s anti-torture framework on paper, torture remains prevalent, and accountability for torture and ill-treatment is elusive”.

“Lebanon needs to show that it is serious about combating torture, and it should start by moving forward the many torture complaints that have been languishing before the judiciary without effective investigations,” said Aya Majzoub, Lebanon researcher at HRW.

In 2019, 44-year-old Hassan Al-Dika died in custody reportedly as a result of torture. An HRW investigation found that judicial authorities failed to investigate Al-Dika’s allegations of torture before his death.

They had also tasked the same security agency that Al-Dika accused of torture with investigating his claims.

And in the case of actor Ziad Itani, who was accused and later exonerated of spying for Israel, Lebanese justice authorities have yet to take action regarding his claims of torture at the hands of State Security officials.

The Lebanese Parliament passed a law criminalizing torture in 2017. Two years later the government appointed five members to the National Preventative Mechanism against Torture.

But the unit has yet to be allocated a budget to allow the fulfillment of its mandate.

“The Lebanese authorities should promptly and impartially investigate all complaints of torture, allocate a sufficient budget to allow the torture prevention unit to get to work, and bring the anti-torture law in line with international standards,” Ms. Majzoub said.

Torture remains prevalent in Lebanon, despite complaints regularly being filed under the 2017 law.

The HRW warned that the 2017 law fails to abide by Lebanon’s obligations under the UN Convention against Torture, because it fails to criminalize cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. (Source: Arab News)