A new urgent action published by Defend International raises a number of serious issues about the treatment of detainees in Lebanon. The government should extend investigation across Lebanon.
Name: Three unknown persons
Age: Child (9-10) and 2 young men
Category: Torture / Ill-treatment / Extraction of false confessions
The information and the three videos received document torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of one child (boy) and two young detainees who had been arrested by Lebanese army in spring 2007 in connection with the bloodiest internal conflict in Lebanon since the civil war ended 17 years ago.
Below Defend International has posted three videos detailing allegations of torture and inhumane treatment involving three suspects captured during that chapter in the war on terror. These shocking videos shed light on serious violations of the prisoners’ rights, including the use of torture and ill-treatment and extraction of confessions (often false confessions) under torture and duress.
The clips show the detainees writhing in pain. One of them is 9-10 years old boy. This Palestinian child is one of many who were trapped in Nahr al-Bared in May 2007 as the Lebanese army exchanged fire with Fatah al-Islam fighters holed up in Nahr al-Bared camp. The boy was arrested during the clashes while escaping from the camp.
By clicking on the second video you’ll see Civil Defence forces torturing a young man who is injured.
The young man appearing on the third video is believed to be from Algeria. He is undressed, apparently forced to do so. The soldiers clearly are insulting, humiliating, threatening and beating the three detainees.
These videos document that the detainees were subjected to torture and interrogation while verbal abuse continued. The torture included threats and (in the case of the boy) being hanged by the wrists which were tied to the ceiling, primarily to force him to make confessions. The detainees are obviously overwhelmed by physical and mental weakness and two of them are bleeding. The boy was terrified.
Defend International has tirelessly documented systemic patterns of torture and ill-treatment, summarized them and brought them to the attention of the Lebanese authorities. We hope that action will be taken as a result of the credible numerous allegations of torture, ill-treatment of civilian and political detainees including those held in connection with Nahr el-Bared refugee camp events.
DI Views and Demands:
As a member state of United Nations Lebanon have reaffirmed its faith in fundamental human rights and in the dignity and worth of the human person, have proclaimed and agreed that everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth therein, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status; has declared that childhood is entitled to special care and assistance; have considered that the child should be fully prepared to live an individual life in society, and brought up in the spirit of the ideals proclaimed in the Charter of the United Nations, and in particular in the spirit of dignity, tolerance, freedom, equality and solidarity; and have proclaimed that, as indicated in the Declaration of the Rights of the Child, “the child, by reason of his physical and mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection”.
Defend International’s findings in relation to Nahr al-Bared events show that:
- The detainees were evidently subjected to torture and/or ill-treatment, apparently because members of Lebanese Army wanted to obtain as much confessions as possible;
- There were serious violations of the rights of these detainees including the infringement of their right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty by the court;
- Any torture to extract a confession is banned and the confessions extracted through torture are not legitimate and legal; and
- Children in refugee camps live in exceptionally difficult conditions, and that those children need special consideration.
International law prohibits torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment of persons in custody in all circumstances.
As a state party to the Convention against Torture (entered into force June 26, 1987 and ratified by Lebanon on October 5, 2000) Lebanon must:
- According to Article 2.1. “Take effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent acts of torture in any territory under its jurisdiction”.
- According to Article 2.2. Bear in mind that “no exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture”.
- According to Article 12 “ensure that its competent authorities proceed to a prompt and impartial investigation, wherever there is reasonable ground to believe that an act of torture has been committed in any territory under its jurisdiction”.
- According to Article 13 ensure that anyone who alleges being “subjected to torture in any territory under its jurisdiction has the right to complain to, and to have his case promptly and impartially examined”.
- According to Article 15 “ensure that any statement which is established to have been made as a result of torture shall not be invoked as evidence in any proceedings”.
As a state party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (signed by Lebanon on June 26, 1990, and ratified on May 14, 1991) Lebanon must:
- According to Article 2.1 “respect and ensure the rights set forth in the present Convention to each child within their jurisdiction without discrimination of any kind, irrespective of the child’s or his or her parent’s or legal guardian’s race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national, ethnic or social origin, property, disability, birth or other status”;
- According to Article 2.2 “take all appropriate measures to ensure that the child is protected against all forms of discrimination or punishment on the basis of the status, activities, expressed opinions, or beliefs of the child’s parents, legal guardians, or family members;”
- According to Article 37(a) “ensure that no child shall be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment…”;
- According to Article 37(b) “ensure that no child shall be deprived of his or her liberty unlawfully or arbitrarily. The arrest, detention or imprisonment of a child shall be in conformity with the law and shall be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time”;
- According to Article 37(c) “ensure that every child deprived of liberty shall be treated with humanity and respect for the inherent dignity of the human person, and in a manner which takes into account the needs of persons of his or her age. In particular, every child deprived of liberty shall be separated from adults unless it is considered in the child’s best interest not to do so and shall have the right to maintain contact with his or her family through correspondence and visits, save in exceptional circumstances”;
- According to Article 37(d) “ensure that every child deprived of his or her liberty shall have the right to prompt access to legal and other appropriate assistance, as well as the right to challenge the legality of the deprivation of his or her liberty before a court or other competent, independent and impartial authority, and to a prompt decision on any such action”.
Defend International calls on the Lebanese authorities to implement as quickly as possible the following recommendations:
- As a matter of urgency, take measures to address these concerns;
- Promise to investigate these cases captured on videos by conducting a comprehensive probe into alleged cases of torture and ill-treatment at prisons across the country;
- Ensure prompt independent, impartial and effective investigations into all allegations of torture or other cruel treatments and punishment of those responsible, whatever their rank. All investigations must be carried out in accordance with international human rights treaties and standards, and in particular the Principles on the Effective Investigation and Documentation of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. The Lebanese authorities must also investigate all cases where confessions have apparently been extracted under torture or ill-treatment or by threats;
- Provide the families of the detainees with all details of the investigations;
- Guarantee that the rights of detainees are respected at all times;
- Provide prisoners with adequate medical care and humane living conditions; and
- Fulfill their obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention against Torture and ensure that the provisions of these treaties are implemented at the domestic level.
Artwork by talented DI member artist Simko Ahmed.