Annual Report: Lebanon 2013

Report
May 23, 2013

Annual Report: Lebanon 2013

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Lebanese Republic

Head of state Michel Suleiman

Head of government Najib Mikati

Reports of torture and other ill-treatment continued, including forced, abusive physical examinations of detainees. Discrimination against Palestinian refugees continued, impeding their access to education, health, employment and adequate housing. Migrant workers faced abuse from employers and sometimes security forces. Some refugees and asylum-seekers, including those fleeing violence in neighbouring Syria, were arbitrarily detained. At least 170,000 refugees from Syria sought safety in Lebanon during the year. Women were discriminated against in law and practice. The Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) announced a trial date in 2013 but the Lebanese authorities again failed to address the fate of the long-term missing and disappeared. Civilians were sentenced to death or to prison terms after unfair trials before military courts. At least nine death sentences were imposed; there were no executions.

Background

Tension rose among Lebanon's diverse faith communities, amid fears that the conflict in Syria would spill over into Lebanon. There was a large influx of refugees from Syria. Sporadic violent clashes along the Syria-Lebanon border caused deaths and injuries among civilians. Repeated armed clashes occurred in and around Tripoli between pro-Syrian government Alawite Muslims and Sunni Muslims supportive of Syrian opposition forces. Armed clashes also occurred in Sidon in August and November. Protests broke out in Beirut and elsewhere, notably following the 19 October assassination of the head of intelligence within Lebanon's Internal Security Forces, who was killed by a car bomb in Beirut. Dozens of people, including children, were killed in the violence and hundreds were wounded. At least 20 Syrians and other foreign nationals were kidnapped and held for up to one month in August and September by armed members of the Meqdad clan to pressure a Syrian armed group to release one of their relatives. In December, a draft National Action Plan for human rights in Lebanon was launched in Parliament, but had not been endorsed at the end of the year.

Torture and other ill-treatment

There were new reports of torture and other ill-treatment of detained security and criminal suspects. In at least one case, an individual suspected on security grounds was reported to have been apprehended, beaten and threatened by armed non-state agents and then handed over to Military Intelligence for further interrogation, during which he was subjected to additional assaults.

In an effort to address torture and other abuses, the government, with assistance from the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, launched in January a code of conduct for the Internal Security Forces. However, the government again failed to establish an independent monitoring body to visit prisons and detention centres, in breach of its international obligations. It was therefore difficult to establish whether the code of conduct brought about any improvements.

Unfair trials

Civilians accused of spying for Israel or other security-related offences continued to be unfairly tried before military courts, which lacked independence and impartiality. Military courts generally failed to investigate allegations by defendants that they were tortured in pre-trial detention to force them to “confess”.

Freedom of expression

Journalists and other media workers were attacked and harassed by security forces and non-state actors for their real or perceived political views.

  • In June, at least three men threw burning material into the entrance of Al-Jadeed television station following the broadcast of a controversial interview with a Salafist cleric.

The Special Tribunal for Lebanon

The Netherlands-based STL announced that the trial of four men it indicted in 2011 for alleged involvement in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafic Hariri in 2005 and other crimes, would begin in March 2013. It was expected that the accused would be tried in their absence.