Amnesty International Briefing: Lebanon Torture Report

July 17, 2013

Amnesty International Briefing: Lebanon Torture Report

Media reports have quoted senior military sources as saying three forensic pathologists had examined Nader al-Bayoumi's body and that they found he had been subjected to beatings but that there were no signs of "torture". However, they have not clarified how the pathologists reached their conclusions, whether they conducted an autopsy and whether they were individuals reporting to the military.

Furthermore, the statement reflects a lack of understanding of the definition of torture. The severe beating in custody to which Nader al-Bayoumi appears to have been subjected would in fact constitute torture and the state has a legal obligation to treat it as such.

Amnesty International urges the Lebanese authorities to conduct a full, independent and impartial investigation into Nader al-Bayoumi's death, in compliance with the UN Principles on the Effective Prevention and Investigation of Extra-legal, Arbitrary and Summary Executions, which sets out standards for investigation of all suspected cases of killings, including cases of deaths in custody where complaints by relatives or other reliable reports give reason to suspect the death was not natural.

According to these Principles, the investigation must include an adequate autopsy, collection and analysis of all physical and documentary evidence and statements from witnesses. The family of the deceased must be allowed to have a medical or other qualified representative present at the autopsy.

If the authorities have not conducted an autopsy, then it may be necessary to exhume the body for a proper determination of the cause of death and to ensure those responsible are brought to justice.

The Lebanese authorities must ensure that Nader al-Bayoumi's family and eyewitnesses, including detainees who may have been held with him, are protected from violence, threats of violence and arrest, and any other form of intimidation or harassment.

Other allegations of torture and other ill-treatment

There are reports of torture and other ill-treatment being inflicted on some of the dozens of others who have been detained by the Lebanese army, including Army Intelligence, following last month's armed clashes.

Amnesty International collected testimonies from three released detainees, including a 15-year-old child, who said they were subjected to torture and other ill-treatment at the hands of the Lebanese army, including Army Intelligence (see their testimonies below). Two of the released detainees, including the child, said they were forced to sign documents they were not allowed to read, but none of the three was brought before a judge or had charges brought against them.

Amnesty International also spoke to a doctor who examined a fourth released detainee, who was picked up at an army checkpoint on al-Awwali Road, just north of Sidon, and was taken to al-Rmeileh military base, north of Sidon. The doctor said his examination concluded that one of the released detainee's ribs (the eighth rib on the right-hand side) had been fractured and that he had suffered "bilateral subconjunctival haematoma" (the bleeding of thin blood vessels in the whites of the eye).

All three released detainees who spoke to Amnesty International 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 two videos that were circulated on social media following the end of the clashes in Sidon and show footage of Lebanese soldiers abusing two men, suspected of being supporters of al-Asseer.

The first video, uploaded on YouTube on 26 June 2013, shows a man sitting on the ground and surrounded by soldiers as he was being questioned by what appeared to be an officer and others on his affiliation to al-Asseer. The man said he served as a guard at the Bilal bin Rabah Mosque, al-Asseer's main base in 'Abra. He was then hit and kicked on his back, head and body by several soldiers as he gathered himself into a foetal position.