Khiam Center’s Report about Torture and Human Rights in Lebanon 2007/2008The repercussions of the "earthquake" that hit Lebanon following the assassination of President Rafik Hariri three years ago were intensified, as if it is intended for this country not to emerge from the cycle of insecurity and the political and demotic divisions crumbling what is left of the homeland and the civil society. The year 2007 was not better than the previous two years; assassinations, bombings, destabilization of civil peace, diffusion of the poisonous fumes of sectarianism until Lebanon is no longer the country of civilization and the beacon of freedom. As if this fragile country was only missing the internal clashes and the endless serial killings reaping political figures and innocent civilians. In addition to this, the curse of the extremist organizations overhauled Lebanon and opened the door to a new displacement of the Palestinian refugees from their homes in the camp of Nahr el-Bared and committing serious violations in prisons and places of detention for the detainees from the extremist Fatah-Islam organization and Palestinian civilians.
The Missing and the Lebanese detainees:
The year 2007 formed a replica of the tens of years where the successive governments had not effectuate any serious investigation to know the fate of 17,000 missing Lebanese who disappeared during the civil war; whereas the Syrian-Lebanese Committee, which was formed in June 2005 to uncover the fate of Lebanese detainees in Syrian prisons who are estimated to be about 640, did not give -to date- results or indicators to solve the suffering of dozens of families that refuse to end their Open Sit-in since April 11, 2005 in front of the ESCWA headquarters in Beirut before discovering the fate of their sons.
The six Lebanese detainees are still in the Israeli prisons awaiting the completion of the exchange operation between Hezbollah and Israel to be released and on top of them, the Dean of the Lebanese Detainees Samir Al-Kantar who completes his 30 years of detention in April 22 of this year, where the Israeli criminal judiciary continue the trial of four detainees belonging to Hizbollah in front of the Central Court in contravention of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which stipulates that they should be treated as prisoners of war because they were arrested from the Lebanese territories during the July 2006 aggression.
Although the verdict duration of the captive Nasim Nisr had ended on February 2 of this year, but the Prisons Department had extended the duration for a further two-month exposed also for extension because the Interior Ministry refuses to release him because he is a danger to Israel and threaten to prevent his release or put him under house arrest in Jerusalem if released and deprive him from returning to his homeland as he wishes.
More than 4 million cluster bombs were left by Israel during the July 2006 aggression in the Southern areas, the permanent danger and constant aggression, which threatens the people and their livelihoods. With Israel insists on not handing maps of places stormed with cluster bombs, official statistics indicate that the injured have reached more than 260, including 88 percent of sheepherders, workers and adult male farmers where the last -but not the least- of them was the shepherd Abdullah Mohammed Foua'ani (40 years), 7 killed 71 people (under 18) injured where the last child was Ali Kadouh (6 years). Knowing that Note that 40% of them are incapable from exploding because it has expired. And what increases its danger, the rain that carries it from a specific place to another, from a fenced place to another was believed to be clean in an area of 32 million cubic meters, increased during a year and a half of the year to 38.3 million square meters, and this number is expected to increase and there remains an area of 8 million square meters to be cleaned.
Continuity of assassinations:
On February 13, 2007 a bomb exploded in a public bus in Ain Alak area in the northern Metn resulted in civilian casualties. Then, the ambulant successive explosions followed leaving losses in lives and properties of innocent citizens; on June 13, 2007 MP Walid Eido was assassinated in Beirut, he was killed in the blast with his son, his bodyguards and 6 civilians who were passing by the place. A few days later, another car bomb targeted, for the first time on June 24, a lorry belonging to the Spanish Battlion operating in the UNIFIL forces in the Khiam valley in the South led to the killing of 6 Spanish soldiers.
Serial killings continued in Lebanon reaping innocent civilians in the way, without being interrupted by actual investigation or serious reveal for any clues of the crimes and their perpetrators.
On September 19, 2007 MP Antoine Ghanem was assassinated in Sin-il-Fil area metres away from a post of the Internal Security Forces, his bodyguard was killed and four other citizens.
On December 12, 2007 the director of operations in the Lebanese army, Brigadier Francois Hajj and his bodyguard were killed.
On January 25, 2007 Captain Wissam Eid, the responsible of the section of information of the Internal Security Forces was killed with his bodyguard and seven other citizens in Hazmieh area.
The four officers are still arrested in the case of the assassination of the martyr Rafik Hariri, without a trial or conviction especially that the officials of the Commission of Investigation repeatedly announced that they do not accuse them of the crime of the assassination of Hariri. And the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention in the High Commission for Human Rights in Geneva declared that their confinement is arbitrary and incompatible with the provisions in Articles 9 and 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Lebanon is a party.
The allot of sectarianism and detachment:
The political crisis and the division between the political parties reflected a violent clash in the streets. On January 23.2007, the student Adnan Shums was killed and tens were wounded in confrontations between students allegiant to the opposition group and others to the government upon a political caucus and the collision was tragically developed to confrontations controlled by anonymous snipers shot at the colliders in the streets in front of the security forces that neither investigated in the incident nor prosecuted the doers. A year later, and on January 27.2008, the apparitions of the likelihood of a renewed civil war emerged after the confrontations that took place between some of the protesters, to the abruption of electricity, and the Lebanese army in Mar Mikhael area after the breaking out of some youths protesting by burning of rubber tires and trying to cut the road. The youths were startled with gunshots from all over by the Lebanese army and an anonymous source, where eight victims were killed, among them two rescuers from a Civil Defense Team and from the Popular Aid for Relief and Development.
The conditions of the prisons:
Legitimate doubts are still hovering around the way the Military Intelligence unit at the Ministry of Defense, the Intelligence Branch of the Internal Security Forces and the Combat of Drug Smuggling Branch deal with the detainees and prisoners especially that the voices of those who are subjected to torture and beating still emanate from some outposts and on top of them is the Post of Hobeish which is designated to those accused of drug abuse and trafficking and debauchery, without forgetting to refer to the adjudication, issued in March 2007, convicting a police who tortured an Egyptian worker in confinement.
The recent period has witnessed a remarkable increase in the number of deceased prisoners which heavily rings the tocsin on the conditions of the crowded prisons in Lebanon, of which the incident of 10 prisoners escaping from Zahle prison (February 24, 2008) forms a flagrant scandal about them. Knowing that members of the Parliamentary Commission on Human Rights has described the prison during its visit a year ago that "it is a prison for those sent to death, one of the worst prisons where it is unfit to be a ranch for the animals; it requires a radical solution." But a solution hasn't yet emerged despite the flatulence of the Internal Security Forces to respect the rights of prisoners.
As for the deceased prisoners, the prisoner Naji Ahmed Khadr who died inside the prison in Tripoli (on December 11, 2006) is not the first, and the prisoner Wissam Sandakli (33 years) who died (on March 8, 2008) won't be the last. Wissam died in the hospital of which he was transferred to from Roumieh Prison after he had a heart attack and a brain clot. Other five arrested as well as other Lebanese and non-Lebanese prisoners died in Roumieh Prison and other places of detention where the Internal Security Forces never undergo a serious overt investigation about these incidents, they simply -each time- justified the death cases to health problems that the prisoners suffered from.
In the radical events of Mar Mikhael (on January 27, 2008) the Lebanese army arrested some young protesters and violently took them to the army lorries, kicking, insulting and beating them with rifle butts as it was reflected directly on the TV screens, and then they lead them to the Directorate of Intelligence. It appeared later on that the military police had detained for about a week five minors -with adults- in one of the places of detention and questioned them without the presence of a Social Representative as required by the Law of Protecting Lebanese Juveniles and released them on February 2, 2008 with charge bonds. They said that they were police members in order for them to do inspection; they forced them to undress in front of each other’s and in front of other arrested adults, after suspecting the existence of prohibited possessions with them.
Nahr Al-Bared Battle:
Nahr el-Bared battle that took place between the Lebanese army and the extremist Fatah-Islam organization in the summer of 2007 led to the destruction of the Palestinian camp, where members of the organization were localized, and to the fall of about 40 civilians and the displacement of the camp's population which is around 30,000 citizens and the destruction of their homes, properties and their fled to the nearby Beddawi camp and other camps.
The tragedy of the women and the children of extremist Fatah-Islam organization (19 women and 37 children) ended on February 20, 2008 with the deportation of the last family which was under house arrest in a mosque in Sidon since last September, knowing that their deportation violates the international conventions that necessitate their stay in Lebanon to the risk of prosecution in Syria and Jordan to where they left and which are pursuing their husbands and fathers who some were killed and others being prosecuted.
As for the practice of the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Forces with the arrested members of the extremist Fatah-Islam organization (more than 220 members), this is something that is worth dissertation because extremism does not justify violence, torture and ill treatment in return; for that one of the prisoners died in Roumieh Prison without specifying the cause of the death. And on August 31, 2007, Al-arabiya TV Channel presented a tape showing one of the leaders of the organization, called Abu-Hurayra, injured and in the grip of the security forces that were trying to questioning him although he was bleeding until he passed away; which contradicts the official version stating that he was immediately killed during the shooting and shooting back between him and the security forces.
The situation of workers and refugees:
While the reality of the Palestinian refugees is still the same of discrimination, suffering and injustice in their civil rights, the crisis of Iraqi refugees, assumed to be around 50,000 in Lebanon, exacerbated this year. Lebanon is not providing them any services or protection, but also the government refused to project the legal status of the UNHCR's recognition of the newcomers of them; many of them newcomers are exposed to arrest, fines and detention for an indefinite period and forcing them to repatriate to Iraq, before the Directorate of Public Security released some of them in the context of settling the situation of foreign nationals in Lebanon.
With several countries have made progress toward respecting the rights of foreign housemaids, Lebanon is still abridged and delinquent in this regard where incidents of suicide and escape from duty are persistently repeated because of the unfair prejudice laws concerning the monthly salary, the health insurance and the violence against them without governmental restraint and supervision. The recorded incidents of suicide in Lebanon are more than 200 housemaids during the past four years without serious investigation in their deaths.
With several countries have made progress toward respecting the rights of foreign housemaids, but Lebanon is still abridged and delinquent in this regard where incidents of suicide and escape from duty are persistently repeated because of the unfair prejudice laws concerning the monthly salary, the health insurance and the violence against them without governmental restraint and supervision. The recorded incidents of suicide in Lebanon are more than 200 housemaids during the past four years without serious investigation in their deaths.
Increased violence and suicide:
The past year has witnessed an alarming rise in the rate of murders, kidnappings and incidents of suicide, which are being repeated in one week. For that, in less than two weeks in the current month of March, 6 declared incidents of suicide were recorded.
Discrimination against Women:
Despite its effectiveness in all areas of society, Lebanese woman is still suffering from discrimination in the Laws of Personal Status and Nationality, and criminal laws related to domestic violence. Lebanese law does not permit the Lebanese woman to grant the Lebanese nationality to her husband or her children despite the intensive campaigns led by the women's associations during the past year.
In the face of the tense reality in Lebanon deteriorating day after day because of the obduracy of the political parties in reaching a solution, the loose security conditions and the fulminate of sectarianism due to the political cleavage, the country witnesses total paralysis in the various aspect of economic, social and cultural aspects. Knowing that the chaotic situation could open the door for massive violations of human rights without punishment or serious investigation. Also, this current reality adversely affects the work of the human rights staves that monitor torture in prisons, as well as the reality of living and moral of the Lebanese.