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Lebanon: Cease threats and intimidation of human rights lawyer – UN expert

GENEVA (1 December 2021) – Lebanon must immediately cease the threats and intimidation of Mohammad Ahmad Samir Sablouh, a human rights defender and lawyer who has worked to assist victims of torture, arbitrary detention and Syrian refugees facing deportation, a UN human rights expert said today.

Mr. Sablouh has been targeted by the General Security Directorate and the Government’s Commissioner to the Military Court in relation to his legal work and inputs for a report by Amnesty International on Syrian refugees who had allegedly been arbitrarily detained on terrorism-related charges and tortured in Lebanon.

Military prosecutors requested that Mr. Sablouh’s immunity as a lawyer be lifted, in order to prosecute him under Article 403 of the Lebanese Penal Code for allegedly making false accusations. He and his clients have also been regularly questioned in relation to his work assisting Syrian refugees in Lebanon.

“I am extremely concerned at the use of threats and intimidation that risk undermining the right to freedom of opinion and expression and the legitimate work of lawyers,” said Mary Lawlor, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders.

"The unimpeded work of human rights lawyers and human rights defenders in exposing these violations is crucial."

The Special Rapporteur will continue to monitor the case and is in contact with the Lebanese authorities on the matter.

Her call was endorsed by: Mr. Felipe González Morales, Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants; and Mr. Diego García-Sayán, Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers.

ENDS

Ms. Mary Lawlor is the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders.Ms. Lawlor is currently Associate Professor of Business and Human Rights at the Centre for Social Innovation (CSI) at Trinity College Dublin Business School. In 2001 she founded Front Line Defenders - the International Foundation for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders to focus on human rights defenders at risk. As Executive Director between 2001 and 2016, Ms. Lawlor represented Front Line Defenders and played a key role in its development. Ms. Lawlor was previously Director of the Irish Office of Amnesty International from 1988 to 2000, after becoming a member of the Board of Directors in 1975 and being elected its President from 1983 to 1987.

Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council's independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures' experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.
For more information and media requests please contact Orsolya Toth (+41 22 917 9913 / orsolya.toth@un.org) or write to OHCHR-defenders@un.org.
For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts, please contact Renato Rosario De Souza (renato.rosariodesouza@un.org) or Jeremy Laurence (+ 41 79 444 7578 / jeremy.laurence@un.org)
Follow news related to the UN's independent human rights experts on Twitter@UN_SPExperts.

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