Amnesty, HRW urge Lebanon to protect people from torture on international victims' day
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch were among 15 groups that urged Lebanon to protect people from torture on the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture on Sunday.
The local and international organisations, which also included the Tripoli Bar Association and Lebanese Center for Human Rights, issued a joint statement to the country's authorities.
The message, which was sent to The New Arab, urged that everyone in Lebanon – including detainees – be protected from torture, as well as cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment.
"The authorities should investigate all allegations of torture and ill-treatment and the perpetrators of such acts should be prosecuted, brought to trial and, if found guilty, sentenced to appropriate punishment," the statement said.
It added that Lebanon ratified the UN Convention against Torture in 2000, and eight years later went on to ratify an optional protocol that builds upon it.
The country's politicians have taken other actions, including criminalising torture in a 2017 Anti-Torture Law.
But the 15 organisations said: "Lebanon strengthened its anti-torture protections on paper, [but] in practice, torture remains prevalent.
"Complaints rarely reach court, and most cases are closed without an effective investigation."
The statement added that the Anti-Torture Law itself falls short of what the UN Convention against Torture requires.
Issues include the law allowing for a statute of limitations of between three and 10 years for torture, while international standards say there shouldn't be a statute of limitation at all, according to the statement.
The message also says that rights groups in the country have documented "repeated failures from the judiciary and security forces to enforce the Anti-Torture Law and Code of Criminal Procedure provisions intended to protect detainees' rights."
The statement highlighted the case of Hassan Al-Dika, who died in custody in May 2019.
It said Lebanon's judicial authorities didn't adequately probe "serious torture allegations" Al-Dika made before his death.
They also breached Anti-Torture Law provisions by asking the same security agency he said tortured him to look into his allegations, according to the statement.
The statement calls on Lebanon to take a series of actions, which include referring all torture cases to non-military courts and passing a law guaranteeing the judiciary's independence.