Header image for news printout

Committee against Torture considers initial report of Lebanon

Committee against Torture

21 April 2017 

The Committee against Torture this afternoon completed its consideration of the initial report of Lebanon on the implementation of the provisions of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

Introducing the report, Najla Riachi Assaker, Permanent Representative of Lebanon to the United Nations Office at Geneva, recalled that Lebanon had been among the first in the region to sign and ratify the Convention against Torture and its Optional Protocol.  Because of the Syrian crisis, now more than six years old, Lebanon was facing unprecedented existential threats, including the escalation of terrorism on the eastern border and in the interior of the country.  Lebanon was also facing economic challenges, particularly in light of the influx of Syrian refugees who represented over half of the Lebanese population and this exceeded the capacity of the country and the region alike.  Despite challenges, Lebanon had taken measures to strengthen the situation of human rights: it was transferring the management of prisons to the Ministry of Justice, raising awareness of human rights among judges, lawyers, and security agencies, and in 2016 it had decided to set up the National Human Rights Commission and the Committee for the Prevention of Torture.

Committee Experts commended Lebanon for its strong will to maintain the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms despite the particularly tense situation in the country and the region, and for the creation in 2012 of a committee to fight torture and other inhumane practices in places of detention.  They inquired about the expected date when a bill defining and criminalizing torture in line with the Convention would be passed and urged Lebanon to ensure the absolute prohibition of torture, clearly define sentences for offenders, and remove any statute of limitations for crimes of torture.  The systematic nature of acts of torture was an issue of grave concern: it was reported that more than 60 per cent of detainees suffered torture during arrest, particularly those arrested for crimes against national security.  Experts raised concerns about military courts which had a very wide-ranging scope and competence and could try civilians, even children in some cases; the existence of places of secret detention used both by the State and non-State actors; the ill-treatment of domestic workers and lack of their protection under the kafala system; and the problems in the enjoyment of fundamental legal guarantees such as arbitrary detention, lack of access to a lawyer, and unlimited or long-lasting detention.

In her concluding remarks, the head of the Lebanese delegation reiterated Lebanon’s commitment to fight torture and ill-treatment and eradicate torture from the territory of the country.  The Committee’s review could add to those efforts. 

The delegation of Lebanon included representatives of the Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Interior and Municipalities, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Parliamentary Human Rights Committee, and the Permanent Mission of Lebanon to the United Nations Office at Geneva.

The Committee will next meet in public at 3 p.m. on Monday, 23 April to conclude its consideration of the second periodic report (CAT/C/BHR/2) and third periodic report (CAT/C/BHR/3) of Bahrain, which it started at 10 a.m. today, 21 April.

Report

The initial report of Lebanon can be read here: CAT/C/LBN/1
 
Presentation of the Report

NAJLA RIACHI ASSAKER, Permanent Representative of Lebanon to the United Nations Office at Geneva, drew the attention of the Committee to the situation of war and chaos in the region and reiterated Lebanon’s commitment to international instruments which were a cornerstone of the Constitution in the country.  The Constitution enshrined the separation of powers, granted full independence to the judiciary and guaranteed liberty of person.  International treaties prevailed over national legislation, and Lebanon had been among the first in the region to sign and ratify the Convention against Torture and its Optional Protocol.  Because of the Syrian crisis, which was now more than six years old, Lebanon was facing unprecedented existential threats, including the escalation of terrorism on the eastern border and in the interior of the country.  Security bodies were doing their utmost to dismantle such groups which sought to undermine and topple security and stability in Lebanon.  In addition to security challenges, Lebanon was also facing economic and policy challenges, particularly in light of the influx of Syrian refugees which had exceeded not only the capacity of the country but the region as well.  Syrian refugees represented more than half of the population in Lebanon, and this had created an exceptional situation which had caused a change in priorities.

Lebanon had taken measures to face all challenges and strengthen the situation of human rights.  Five prisons were currently being built in the country, including a model prison in line with international norms and standards with regard to the arrest of foreign nationals.  Lebanon was also working on transferring the management of prisons to the Ministry of Justice.  The Army had created a department for international humanitarian law which was in charge of ensuring that the troops knew their duties and obligations in this regard and that the provisions of international humanitarian and human rights law were implemented throughout.  Efforts were being made to raise the awareness of human rights among judges, lawyers, and security agencies.  Lebanon had decided in 2016 to set up the National Human Rights Commission and the national preventive mechanism, in line with the Optional Protocol to the Convention, and the Paris Principles.  Members of the Commission would soon be appointed; the Commission had the mandate to promote human rights, receive complaints and carry out investigations.  Lebanon was aware that acts of torture were being committed in the country and ensured that all cases were investigated and those responsible punished by the law.

Questions by the Country Co-Rapporteurs

SÉBASTIEN TOUZE, Committee Expert and Rapporteur for Lebanon, said that despite the particularly tense situation in the country and the region, Lebanon had indicated a very strong will to move forward with the promotion of human rights and had also maintained the protection of fundamental rights.  Lebanon should be thus commended. 

When would the establishment of the two key institutions, the National Human Rights Commission and the National Commission for the Prevention of Torture, be announced?  Would the composition be determined by religious denomination, or by some other criteria?

With regard to the criminalization of torture, the Country Rapporteur noted that the legislation was not in line with the Convention; Lebanon had already announced the legal amendments, including the modification of article 4.1 of the criminal code to align the law with the Convention.  The work had started in 2012 – when would this central reform be brought into force?  Were there any problematic amendments in this text and what exactly was the content of those amendments?

Turning to the scope of the legislative reform, Mr. Touze asked whether the object would be only article 4.1. of the criminal code, or if it would allow for other adaptations to the criminal procedure in order to bring the legislation of Lebanon in conformity with the Convention. 

The outlawing of torture was absolute and the law must clearly define sentences to be handed down to perpetrators, stressed the Country Rapporteur and asked the delegation to explain the law and practices in this regard.  What was the situation of the witness protection system process in the law, and would Lebanon consider amending the law to ensure that there was no statute of limitations for the crime of torture, as prescribed by the Convention?  The current law prescribed a statute of limitation of 10 years from the date that the crime was committed.

Did the recently adopted law on amnesty include amnesty for torture?

In terms of the application of current laws, the Rapporteur noted that although Lebanon had taken steps to criminalize torture, there were still some of its aspects which were not prohibited by law.  It seemed that judges did not systematically take into account allegations of torture, while the State party report provided a long list of reasons for which those accused of torture could be found not guilty, including the inability of victims to prove that torture had occurred.

The delegation was asked to inform about the investigation and prosecution of cases of torture, including outside of the territory of Lebanon or on Lebanese citizens abroad.

On the military courts and tribunals, Mr. Touze asked about their scope and competence which seemed to be quite wide-ranging.  Those courts sometimes tried civilians in violation of Lebanese international commitments, and there were children who were brought before military courts.  Could the delegation inform about the testimony of individuals before those tribunals in cases involving allegations of torture?

Turning to the systematic nature of acts of torture, the Country Rapporteur said that it had been reported by non-governmental organizations that more than 60 per cent of detainees were victims of torture during their arrest.  It seemed that torture was a wide-spread practice against persons in detention, particularly those arrested for crimes against national security, against foreigners - Syrians and Palestinians in particular, and poor persons who had been arrested for minor crimes.

What was the situation with the implementation of the 36 recommendations the Committee had made in 2014?

What was the situation concerning secret detention, were there places of secret detention, both those used by State and non-State actors alike, such as Hezbollah? 

The delegation was asked to inform the Committee about specific cases of allegations of torture which had been brought to the Committee’s attention, such as the case of Ghassan Slaybi and those arrested with him, four of whom had alleged torture during detention;  the case of Rami Aysha, an investigative reporter and TIME Magazine correspondent in Lebanon; and the case of Walid Diab, 16 years old who had been arrested at a military checkpoint in Tripoli and accused of being a member of a terrorist group.  The delegation was also asked about allegations of torture against individuals, including children, which had occurred in July 2013; alleged torture of 24 persons arrested by the army during a raid in April 2015; and the allegations of torture including against children which were contained in the 2017 report by Human Rights Watch.

Homosexual sexual relations were criminalized in Lebanon, even though the exact nature of the infraction was not clarified by the law.  Accordingly, homosexuality, adultery, sodomy and fornication were pursued, mainly against men having sex with men.

The delegation was asked to inform whether investigations into cases of torture and ill-treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons had been opened, and what their outcomes were.

The Country Rapporteur also raised the issue of the ill-treatment of domestic workers, particularly in light of the weak legal protection awarded to migrant workers who often worked under the kafala system.  Thus, many crimes against domestic workers, and violations of their human rights went unpunished.

Why was Lebanon not a party to the 1951 Refugee Convention?

Lebanon was a host to more than one million refugees – from Syria, Iraq, Sudan and Ethiopia - and this number was on the rise.  What was the situation and conditions in reception sites and what measures were in place to prevent the detention of refugees?

In 2015, Lebanon had introduced a very strict procedure for the renewal of residency permits, which were also costly and thus not affordable to a significant number of refugees.  All those without a valid residency permit were considered to be in violation of the law and were thus subjected to restriction of freedom of movement, arbitrary arrests, detention or expulsion.

The new refugee directive adopted in February 2017 had removed the annual tax imposed on refugees for all those who had been registered with the United Nations Refugee Agency prior to 1 January 2015; as a result, 60 per cent of Syrian refugees had lost their legal status.  The directive was not applicable to Palestinian refugees who had arrived from Syria.  Could the delegation explain to the Committee the purpose of the directive and how it was being implemented in practice?

Turning to the fundamental legal guarantees, the Country Rapporteur commended the legal framework as set up by the criminal code, code of criminal procedure and other laws, and the creation in 2012 of a committee to fight torture and other inhumane practices in places of detention, but noted with concern that important problems in the enjoyment of fundamental legal guarantees remained.  This included arbitrary detention, lack of access to a lawyer, and unlimited or long-lasting detention: in 2015, many cases had been reported of minors detained in cells together with adults for unlimited durations.  Could the delegation comment on how all those deprived of liberty enjoyed their fundamental legal guarantees?

ABDELWAHAB HANI, Committee Expert and Co-Rapporteur for Lebanon, expressed satisfaction about the voluntary acceptance of Lebanon of the Committee’s inquiry procedure and congratulated the country for its active and vibrant civil society which had provided important insight about the situation in Lebanon.

What mechanisms were in place to ensure that the recommendations of this Committee and other treaty bodies were implemented in Lebanon?

What was the position of Lebanon concerning the recognition of the Committee’s mechanism for individual complaints, which would enable it not only to receive complaints by individuals, but also to come to the aid of the State party on specific issues?

The Co-Rapporteur was very concerned about the “privatization of the State” and Lebanon’s voluntary renouncing of its sovereignty, in light of the growing involvement of private security groups and the so-called “legal and security committees”, which apparently could detain and arrest individuals, and hold them in pre-trial detention.  What was the legal status of those groups and the legal basis on which they operated? 

Those groups also took part in military operations outside of the borders of Lebanon; the Commission of Inquiry set up by the Human Rights Council six years ago had found evidence of international humanitarian and human rights law violations committed by such groups in Syria.  Could the delegation comment and explain how it ensured the full jurisdiction of the State for all crimes committed by members of such groups?

What measures had been taken to advance the cooperation of Lebanon with the Commission of Inquiry into the Syrian conflict and with the international mechanism for accountability which would look into war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during the conflict in Syria, including torture?

What specific training activities were being carried out in detention centres and did they include provisions of the Istanbul Protocol?

Why had the training of domestic security forces, under a programme planned with the United Nations Development Programme, been cancelled?

It was well recognized that prisons in Lebanon were overcrowded and some of them even seriously overcrowded – could the delegation provide current figures about the prison population at the moment, and comment on the conditions of detention and on measures taken to reduce the number of persons held in pre-trial detention?  What measures were being taken to separate the population in detention, adults from juveniles, women from men, and pre-trial detainees from convicted inmates?

What measures were being taken to reduce overcrowding in prisons which were under the oversight of the General Directorate of Security Forces?

What was the mechanism in place for persons on death row to file complaints?  

How were victims of torture rehabilitated and compensated?

The Co-Rapporteur took up the issue of the non-admissibility of evidence obtained under torture and noted that a number of non-governmental organizations alleged that a number of judges had dismissed the Human Rights Watch report which had offered evidence of torture in eight cases.  Could the delegation comment?

What measures had been taken to combat corruption and in particular that which threatened the integrity and independence of the judiciary?

Questions by the Experts

A Committee Expert noted that torture was not specifically mentioned as a prohibited act in the criminal code and yet, the law prescribed penalties and sanctions for acts of torture, for example, torture leading to death carried a sentence of up to 10 years in prison.  How did Lebanon reconcile those facts?  What rights did detainees have to legal assistance?

The Committee was concerned about the situation of prisons run by private security forces and inquired whether those places of detention could be visited by independent monitors, as well as about the system of monitoring of conditions of detention in the Tripoli prison, run by the Internal Security Forces and where most allegations of torture came from? 

Also of great concern was prison overcrowding, which currently stood at 185 per cent – what measures were being taken to reduce overcrowding, including considering alternatives to detention? 

Another Expert raised the problem of the statute of limitations and asked whether Lebanon would ensure that its legislation was fully compliant with the Convention and ensure that torture was not subject to any statute of limitations.

Under which conditions and in which situations could those accused of torture be acquitted, and what measures were being taken to increase the capacity to detect and identify torture?

The delegation was further asked to provide data and statistics on cases of investigation and prosecution of torture, sanctions and penalties for perpetrators, and compensation provided to victims. 

The Expert asked whether the Government was encouraging Parliament to take steps to amend the law and ensure that rapists were not exempted from the law when they married their victims.

There were reports which offered evidence of torture inflicted by internal security forces and military intelligence, such as scarring on the victims, or the presence of torture equipment and materials on the premises. 

The Committee was further greatly concerned about allegations of torture by non-State actors such as Hezbollah.  The President had recently declared that Hezbollah was a part of Lebanese Army, and was an essential part of the State – could the delegation clarify the position of Hezbollah in Lebanon, and its relationship with the Government?  Was it allowed to carry out some sovereign functions such as border control, and if so, what measures were in place to ensure that those duties were carried out in line with the law?  What was the situation of prisons and places of detention run by Hezbollah, and which oversight and monitoring mechanism was in place?  Had there been any Hezbollah members investigated and prosecuted for acts of torture?

Did prisoners have the right to choose their own doctor?

Which criteria would be used for the selection of members of the National Human Rights Commission?

The issue of non-State actors was of particular relevance in Lebanon, where certain functions of the State were exercised by political movements and other non-State groups.  The Committee was very interested in understanding the role of non-State actors in Lebanon and their relationship with the Government, thus the delegation was asked about the legal framework which governed the activities of political parties and political movements?

JENS MODVIG, Committee Chairperson, took up the fundamental guarantees, which included the right to a medical examination at the beginning of detention, and stressed that this was a mechanism which allowed for the early detection of torture.  Did Lebanon keep track of requests for medical examinations, how many were actually made, and what were the findings?  What procedures were in place to ensure that judges could determine whether evidence of confession was obtained under torture? 

SÉBASTIEN TOUZE, Committee Expert and Rapporteur for Lebanon, asked whether the legal reform would ensure that everybody in custody had access to a lawyer throughout the duration of detention? 

ABDELWAHAB HANI, Committee Expert and Co-Rapporteur for Lebanon, asked about disciplinary measures applied in prisons, including the use of solitary confinement, and whether international standards in this regard were respected.  Nearly half of those in custody waited for their first appearance before the court, and other sources claimed that more than two third of detainees waited for an interminable period of time.  It was a great source of concern that there were places of secret detention and that State was complicit in the maintenance of those places.

Another Expert raised concern that in Lebanon, incommunicado detention was allowed.  Although it was an exceptional measure taken by the prison wardens, this provision raised the risk of torture.  What were the circumstances in which a person could be put in incommunicado detention and how many people were in incommunicado detention now and for how long?

Was there a recourse procedure against expulsion orders by the General Directorate for Security which were considered and decided upon by an independent judicial authority?  The prohibition of non-refoulement was absolute and must be respected, even in cases of persons who presented a threat to national security.

How many complaints of torture had been received through different mechanisms which were available in Lebanon?

Responses by the Delegation

Responding to questions and issues raised by the Experts, the delegation said that the law on torture was still before Parliament.  The Parliamentary Human Rights Committee often raised the same questions in relation to torture that the Committee Experts asked; this meant that the body was one of the oversight bodies in the fight against torture, which was one of the key priorities included in the 2005 national human rights plan.  The national human rights plan urged the Government to implement the Committee’s recommendations and the provisions of the Convention against Torture.

The Parliamentary Human Rights Committee was one of the bodies which received complaints and allegations of torture, which it then closely followed up to ensure non-recurrence.  This Committee was closely following the criminal code where torture was criminalized; more than 300 bills of law had been submitted to Parliament which had to do with torture, seven of those had been prioritized.  The delegate reassured the Experts that Parliament was working vigorously and efficiently, given the context it was operating in.  The text of the bill on torture, which contained amendments to the criminal code, had been presented to the Parliamentary Committee for the Administration of Justice which had approved it, and it was expected that Parliament would adopt the bill at the next sitting.  This bill would be a fruit of the agreement between different political parties and processes.

The delegation explained that the Commission of Inquiry on Syria had not requested Lebanon to provide any information about any issue.

The questions on the role of Hezbollah in the border security were not in the remit of this Committee, said the delegation, but explained that Hezbollah was a part of the Government and a major Parliamentary group.

Despite the challenges related to a delay in Presidential elections, Parliament had organized emergency legislative sessions during this period, in order to fulfil its commitment and establish a Committee for the Prevention of Torture.  The Committee should be appointed by the Cabinet, but it would be possible for some relevant authorities to be involved, for example the Bar Association, the Physicians Union, civil society, and others, who would submit the list of candidates to the Cabinet which would then choose the members. 

Parliament had also passed the law establishing the National Commission for Human Rights which would be an independent body and would act in line with the Paris Principles.  The legal criteria defined by the law must be respected in the proposal of candidates, while the Ministry of Justice had drafted a decree which determined the experience and salaries of the members.  The law did not specify the religious make-up of the Commission, but it did define the need for gender balance.

The law did not contain a text which defined the crime of torture, or defined the act, but it was focused on the protection of human rights, particularly the rights of those deprived of their liberty.  The crime of torture could be sanctioned and penalized and acts of torture were considered part of crimes according to the criminal law.  In practice, there was a mechanism which punished psychological and physical torture against persons deprived of liberty; psychological torture included also slander, intimidation and threats if it was conducted by a person of authority against a person in custody.  An illegitimate order by a superior to engage in an act of torture could not be used to justify torture, and officers had the right to refuse such an order.

The new draft law on the criminalization of torture would soon be presented to Parliament; the bill had been extensively discussed, had already been accepted by the Parliamentary Committee for the Administration of Justice, and it was expected that it would soon be adopted by Parliament.  The definition of torture was in full compliance with the Convention in the draft law, which endorsed the principle of the proportionality of sentences with the gravity of the crime and defined that the statute of limitations on torture started on the day the victim left the prison and not on the day the act had taken place.

Judicial authorities would start investigation and judicial proceedings in all allegations of torture where sufficient grounds existed.  The delegation stressed that there was no systematic and widespread torture by security personnel in Lebanon. 

A detained person had the right to be examined by a doctor, and also to be examined a second time if detention had been extended to four days by the order of a Public Prosecutor.

The delegation would submit to the Committee the list of investigations, prosecutions and sanctions for the crime of torture.  An arrested person had the right to remain silent, and the court had the right to assess a confession provided to the police to establish that it had not been given under torture or duress.  Today, confession was no longer the “mother of all confessions”, and had been replaced by technological tools and processes which were able to provide more true proof that confessions alone.

All cases of torture were followed up by the judges and there was no impunity for torture.  A complaint office had been created and the human rights division within the Ministry of Interior was being upgraded into a unit with structure and strategy to ensure respect for international human rights standards. 

All extraordinary courts were truly extraordinary and had been created in extreme circumstances; once those circumstances were gone, the courts would be disbanded.  The military courts had been set up under the Military Law of 1960 which established their jurisdiction for spying, treason, and arms trafficking for military personnel and civilians alike.  The military courts also had jurisdiction over acts of terrorism. 

According to the law on the protection of juveniles, a minor who committed a crime as an accomplice to an adult must be prosecuted; the military court would transfer all such minors to a juvenile justice court. 

The decisions of the military courts were not final and could be appealed.

The members of the Judicial Council were appointed by the executive branch which did not limit their independence and the appointed judges were among the best in Lebanon.  The appointment was not arbitrary and was done by the Cabinet and the Council of Ministers.  The decisions of the Judicial Council could not be appealed and challenged, but there was a bill to change the constitution of this body to ensure the right to appeal; this bill was not before Parliament yet.

With regard to corruption in the judiciary, the delegation explained that all those suspected of corruption were investigated.

Responding to the questions related to the case of a Syrian refugee who allegedly had been detained and tortured for being homosexual, the delegation said that this person had been detained for carrying false identification documents and was suspected of having links with terrorist cells. 

Torture was not systematic in Lebanon, but there were individual cases.  The International Committee of the Red Cross and other civil society organizations had access to prisons and were allowed to communicate with prisoners; judicial authorities could visit places of detention as well.  All this was proof that torture was not a systematic occurrence.  There were no torture centres under the aegis of the Ministry of Defence; the only places of detention were those defined by the law which could also be visited by independent monitors.  In fact, the last visit had taken place on 8 April 2017.

The criminal code allowed for hard labour to be used in prisons but this was not used in practice; thus, there was no forced labour in the country and even if there was, it would not amount to torture.

Explaining the renewal process for residency permits for Syrian refugees, the delegation explained that since 2015, the entry of Syrians had been regularized and the same rules that applied to Syrians applied to persons of other nationalities.  Syrians were free to move between the two countries.  It must be noted that there were 4,000 Syrian nationals in Lebanon as workers and not refugees and different laws applied to them.  As for alleged deportations of refugees, it was explained that the 14 individuals in question had been arrested for crimes and consequently released, without being deported.  Lebanon was not a party to the 1951 Refugee Convention but it fully respected the rights of refugees and asylum seekers and was investing efforts to care for them in cooperation with the United Nations Refugee Agency.

A foreigner found guilty of a crime could be subjected to deportation, but this would not be pursued if the return carried a risk of torture.  There were several Syrians in this situation where deportation had not been carried out because of the risk of torture.

In collaboration with Restart Centre, a judicial training programme had been put in place to train judges in the provisions of the Convention, the Optional Protocol and the Istanbul Protocol.

The current law provided for a complaint system in prisons but as it was outdated there were attempts to create new complaint mechanisms such as an ad hoc office to receive complaints in the Roumieh prison, the biggest prison in Lebanon.  The authorities were working with the United States Embassy in developing a complaint system which would be in line with international standards.  Places of detention could also be visited by non-governmental organizations and other independent monitors, who had full access to prisoners.

Lebanon was aware of the problem of prison overcrowding and was taking measures in cooperation with others to improve the situation in places of detention.  All detentions and pre-trial detentions were constantly monitored to ensure that female inmates were protected from sexual violence.  This was unacceptable and constituted a grave violation of disciplinary rules.  Solitary confinement was legal and could be imposed on an inmate for a period of four days.  The head of the gendarmerie could impose solitary confinement for a period up to 30 days.

Follow-up Questions by the Experts

SÉBASTIEN TOUZE, Committee Expert and Rapporteur for Lebanon, thanked the delegation for the extensive answers and asked for additional clarification concerning the definition of torture in the draft law and the philosophy behind the provisions on sentencing.  Would a statute of limitations on the crime of torture be retained in the new law?  Would Lebanon consider decriminalizing homosexuality?

ABDELWAHAB HANI, Committee Expert and Co-Rapporteur for Lebanon, asked the delegation about places of secret detention and if Lebanon would retain the statute of limitations for crimes of torture.  How many people were in pre-trial detention in proportion to the prison population?  Could the delegation inform about peaceful protests and demonstrations relating to the events of 2015?  When would Lebanon start using technology to replace body searches?

The delegation had said that solitary confinement was a disciplinary measure which could be applied by the prison warden; Experts noted that 15 or more consecutive days of solitary confinement violated international standards which was considered a form of torture and ill-treatment in the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, also known as the Mandela Rules. 

What alternatives to detention were being applied to reduce the number of persons in pre-trial detention, who had to spend years in very bad conditions waiting for their trial?

JENS MODVIG, Committee Chairperson, took up the issue of monitoring the implementation of fundamental legal safeguards and asked who could prove that the police offered those to a detainee, for example though audio and video recordings.  This issue was very relevant as recent research demonstrated the fundamental role of the implementation of fundamental legal safeguards in preventing torture.

ABDELWAHAB HANI, Committee Expert and Co-Rapporteur for Lebanon, on the issue of non-State actors, reiterated that the Committee was not interfering in Lebanon’s internal affairs, and noted that there were non-State cells involved in arrests and detention and asked who was responsible for their oversight and monitoring.  How were they held accountable for rights violations?  The Committee believed there were places of secret detention and an explanation and clarification by the delegation would be most appreciated.

 
Responses by the Delegation

The delegation explained that well established protocols were followed every time there was an allegation of torture and that the burden of proof in crimes of torture followed rules for all other crimes, and it absolutely was not reversed.

Audio and video recordings were regularly used in detention centres, and this was encouraged.

The association of legal doctors together with the police and military officers working in legal medicine worked on developing standards and protocols.

Excessive force had not been used by law enforcement officers against demonstrators and protesters in front of Parliament and government buildings; to the contrary, it was the demonstrators who had used violence against the police. 

Lebanon would turn to international assistance to switch to electronic body searches.

The delegation said that authorities did not have evidence of the existence of places of secret detention and that no one had filed a complaint for being arrested or tortured by a non-State actor.

The delegation said it did not understand why the Committee was repeating the question about the International Commission of Inquiry on Syria.  The Commission respected its mandate determined on Syria, as defined in the relevant Human Rights Council resolutions.  Lebanon had provided logistical support for the Commission, such as visas, out of its positive cooperation with the Human Rights Council mechanisms, and it had a relation of mutual respect with the Commission members.

Lebanon was a supporter of the International Commission of Inquiry in Syria and supported its mandate as defined by the Human Rights Council.  Lebanon endeavoured to cooperate positively with the Commission and with all other treaty bodies, and was providing logistical support to the Commission. 

Concluding Remarks

NAJLA RIACHI ASSAKER, Permanent Representative of Lebanon to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that Lebanon was committed to fighting torture and ill-treatment and to eradicating torture from the territory of the country.  The Committee’s review could add to those efforts.  Lebanon had a huge burden to bear due to security, economic, social and political impacts of the Syrian crisis, which overwhelmed the capacities of the country.

JENS MODVIG, Committee Chairperson, expressed appreciation for this interactive dialogue and hoped that the Committee’s concluding observations would be helpful in the further implementation of the Convention in Lebanon.

____________________

For use of the information media; not an official record

Follow UNIS Geneva on: Website | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube |Flickr