Lebanon: Hundreds jailed amid violence

Lebanon: Hundreds jailed amid violence
Differences in official figures of those arrested complicates families efforts to find those detained.
3 min read
13 November, 2014
Many people have been detained on terrorism charges [Getty]

Families and friends of people who have been detained in Lebanon face significant hurdles finding information on tgheir loved ones, as major discrepancies exist between different sources of official figures.

A study carried out by al-Araby al-Jadeed using Lebanon's National News Agency (NNA) archives, shows that figures released by the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and the NNA are inconsistent.

LAF figures are significantly higher, suggesting security agencies may be failing to send details of all those arrested to the NNA, possibly due to disorganisation.

The study reveal that Lebanese security and military forces detained 6,129 people in August, September and October this year. Those arrested were Lebanese, Syrian and Palestinian. This happened during a critical period for Lebanon, with two battles erupting in the town of Arsal [AR] in east Lebanon, and further conflict in the north.

     From August to October an average of 68 people were detained per day.

NNA figures show that during this period an average of 68 people were detained per day, or 2.83 each hour. There were 204 Lebanese, 671 Syrian, 109 Palestinian and 5,145 of unspecified nationality. Of the total arrested 1,185 were detained on terrorism related charges, 434 on non-criminal charges and 4,510 on unspecified charges typically linked to security and terrorism.

The reasons given include failing to present identity documents, killing or fighting military personnel, possessing unlicensed weapons, and graffitiing slogans on walls supporting the Islamic State group. A small number were also arrested for drugs and kidnapping. The majority of arrests were made under the umbrella of a security plan launched by the ministry of interior and municipalities in north Lebanon, and Bekaa in east Lebanon.


Most detainees were arrested on terrorism charges. In August, 91.5 percent of the 354 arrested were charged with terrorist related offences, according to figures from the Army Directorate of Guidance published on the NNA website. However, the Army Command announced it arrested 1,726 that month. A total of 41 percent were Syrian, and the rest Lebanese with a small number of foreign nationals detained by General Security at ports and airports.

In September, 65 percent of the 596 detained were suspected terrorists according to the NNA. However, the Army Command announced it arrested 2,120 that month. This included minors detained in the south for writing graffiti on walls supporting IS.

Of the 673 individuals detained in October, 70 percent were held on terrorism charges according to NNA archives. However, the Army Command said it detained 2,157 that month.

In addition, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed has received confirmation from political sources that more than 700 people were detained in north Lebanon in one week in October. No explanation was given for their detention, and most were released a few days later.

The study of NNA figures has revealed huge discrepancies. Another study is needed to look at the legal rights of detainees including incidences of torture, and the suspension rate of army personnel charged with torture.

This article is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.