AI INDEX: MDE 18/001/2013
9 JULY 2013
LEBANON: TORTURE ALLEGATIONS IN WAKE OF SIDON ARMED CLASHES
"The officer told me I must confess… He then asked me questions: 'Did you fill up sand bags?… Did you carry arms?…' Every time I said no, a soldier standing behind me would hit me with a belt on my back."
Information researched by Amnesty International indicates that the death in custody at end of June of Nader al-Bayoumi, a 35-year-old man detained by the Lebanese army following armed clashes between the military and followers of Sunni Muslim cleric Sheikh Ahmed al-Asseer in the southern city of Sidon, resulted from torture. The case appears to fit into a broader set of allegations of torture and other ill-treatment against some of the dozens detained by the Lebanese army, including Army Intelligence, following the clashes.
Amnesty International has reviewed images of the body of Nader al-Bayoumi, who was arrested on 24 June and returned dead to his family on 27 June, and noted signs of horrific abuse. A forensic pathologist who reviewed the images concluded that the bruising on the body was consistent with assault and suggested internal haemorrhage was a possible cause of death.
Amnesty International has spoken to three released detainees, including a 15-year-old child, who said they were subjected to torture and other ill-treatment and not allowed to contact their families or a lawyer during their detention. Two of the released detainees, including the child, said they were forced to sign documents they were not allowed to read. All three said they witnessed other detainees being subjected to torture or other ill treatment, indicating that their experiences were not isolated incidents.
Amnesty International has also reviewed videos that were circulated on social media showing two separate incidents of soldiers beating up a detainee.
The Lebanese authorities must ensure that full, independent and impartial investigations are opened immediately into both the death in custody of Nader al-Bayoumi and the other allegations of torture and other ill-treatment. Wherever sufficient admissible evidence is uncovered, those suspected of responsibility should be brought to justice in proceedings which meet international standards of fairness and without recourse to the death penalty.
Amnesty International is concerned for detainees still held by the Lebanese army, including Army Intelligence, who it believes are at risk of torture or other ill-treatment.
The Lebanese authorities must take immediate steps to prevent any further acts of torture or other ill-treatment at detention facilities run by the Lebanese army, including Army Intelligence. Detainees must be granted access to their families and lawyers of their own choosing and provided with any medical attention they may require. Detainees should be released or charged without delay with internationally recognizable offences and tried promptly in accordance with international fair trial standards in civilian courts. Statements extracted under torture or other ill-treatment must not be used as evidence against them.
The clashes between the Lebanese army and armed supporters of Sheikh Ahmed al-Asseer began on 23 June 2013, reportedly after the latter attacked an army checkpoint in response to the arrest of one of the cleric's supporters. The clashes lasted for two days and took place in 'Abra, a district in the east of the southern city of Sidon. On 24 June 2013, the Lebanese army took control of al-Asseer's main base in 'Abra, the Bilal bin Rabah mosque complex, where he and supporters of his, many of them armed, were holed up.