Lebanon: Woman detained after making rape allegation against military

Lebanon: Woman detained after making rape allegation against military
Analysis: The Lebanese military must reveal the location of a woman detained after accusing military intelligence service officers of raping and torturing her, Human Rights Watch has said.
3 min read
28 September, 2015
Kayaje stands accused of "defamation and libel against the Lebanese army" [AFP]

The Lebanese military has detained a woman who accused members of the intelligence service of raping and torturing her, according to activists.

The army has refused to reveal her location, according to her family, and Human Rights Watch has called for the military to immediately reveal where she is being held.

The army arrested Layal al-Kayaje, a Palestinian from the southern Lebanese city of Saida, on 21 September 2015. She was detained soon after speaking to the media about an alleged attack when she was detained in 2013.

"The behaviour of military intelligence smacks of intimidation and revenge," said Nadim Houry, HRW's deputy Middle East director.

"While we don't know what happened to al-Kayaje in 2013, the judiciary should investigate her serious allegations of rape instead of allowing Military Intelligence to hold her incommunicado," Houry added.

HRW and local NGOs have called on the Lebanese judiciary to investigate her detention, and her allegations of torture and rape. Anyone involved should be held criminally responsible, said the human rights organisation.

"Coercively denying a detainee without communication with the outside world is not only a violation of Lebanese laws but would also amount to a violation of international human rights law guarantees protecting the liberty and dignity of a suspect," said the NGOs in their statement.

     Kayaje was detained in 2013 after posting messages in support of the cleric Ahmad al-Assir on Facebook.

Kayaje was detained for five days in September 2013 after posting messages in support of the cleric Ahmad al-Assir on Facebook.

In June 2013, fighting between Assir's supporters and the army led to the deaths of 18 soldiers and 28 of Assir's followers. After a two-year manhunt Assir was arrested at Beirut airport after trying to escape Lebanon on 15 August 2015.

After speaking to the Lebanese online news outlet Now News, an interview was published about her detention on 4 September 2015, in which she used the pseudonym Amar.

She has been accused of "defamation and libel against the Lebanese army" in a statement released on 22 September by the military command.

This charge can carry a jail sentence. HRW argued ambiguous definitions means the threat has been used to silence legitimate criticism of public officials in the past.

Kayaje told Now News she was tortured in custody at the ministry of justice and then raped by members of the military intelligence at a detention centre in Rehaniyyeh. 

When she was released she tried to get a medical report to show that she had been raped - but when the doctor found out what had happened he did not want to get involved.

Assuming other doctors would adopt the same position, she spoke to a lawyer who advised her not to speak out because she would expose herself and no one would believe her.

Too scared to speak out about the attack, she failed to press charges after her release.

After her detention on 21 September the military released a statement saying she confessed to lying about being raped to gain "sympathy and get a job opportunity", reported HRW.

Kayaje's family told HRW that they had not been told where she was being held, and they remain concerned that the military had disclosed the identity of a rape victim.

Lebanon is party to the UN Convention Against Torture, which says all allegations of torture and ill-treatment - including sexual violence - need to be investigated and those responsible brought to justice.