Documentation of the complaint for the case of a human rights defender refugee in Lebanon

Press Release
21 Octobre 2020
Paris, France – Beirut, Lebanon

This case highlights the conditions of Syrian refugees in Lebanon and the types of discrimination and racism that the Lebanese authorities exercises against them as E.K. and his friends were beaten after they were questioned on whether they were Lebanese or Syrians.

On 30 September 2020, Access Center for Human Rights (ACHR) submitted a complaint to the Special Procedures for the Human Rights Council regarding the practices of Lebanon on torture, arbitrary arrest, and assaults on Human Rights Defenders.

Complaint summary:

Mr. E.K. is a Syrian Human Rights’ Defender refugee who entered Lebanon legally in 2012 and holds a valid residency permit. During the quarantine imposed to combat the spread of COVID-19 virus several municipalities imposed a number of additional measures targeting Syrian refugees only, including the requirement to obtain a permission from the concerning municipality in order to travel in between towns or to leave the neighborhood they reside in and the town where Mr. Eid resides is among these villages. 

Despite having said permission, the Human Rights Defender E.K. was subjected to violence, inhuman and degrading treatment, as well as, discrimination on the basis of nationality, by members of the Lebanese Army at a checkpoint in Zahle – Beqaa where he headed with two Syrian friends to withdraw UN food assistance from their cards. On their way back, they were followed in a Jeep hummer by three Army soldiers. The soldiers interrupted their way, forced them into the car and took them to the checkpoint.

Despite the defender. E.K. informing them that he has valid residency and travel permission from the municipality, and that he works with non-governmental human rights organizations, they decided to assault them after asking them on their nationality. The soldiers then took them to an isolated place a few meters away from the checkpoint where they beat them on their heads using their hands while insulting and humiliating them and their country of origin. As the head of E.K. began bleeding, they stopped and left them on the street and returned to the checkpoint.

There was no justification for the use of force against the defender E.K. and the two individuals accompanying him, as ACHR documented this case and obtained a report from an official medical practitioner who confirmed that the defender E.K. and his friend were severely beaten on their heads and endured bleeding on their faces.

(ACHR) requests the Government of Lebanon to respect its obligations under the international treaties and investigations that it has ratified and refrain from acts of racist, violent, degrading treatment and investigate such acts carried out on its territory, particularly on security checkpoints, and guarantee the right to an effective remedy for the victims of human rights violations.

Moreover, ACHR urges the United Nations Special Procedures to enter dialogue with the Government of Lebanon to visit the territories of Lebanon to observe, report and recommend on the human rights situation of Syrian refugees in Lebanon.

Access Center for Human Rights (ACHR) is a non-governmental organization based in Beirut and Paris, it focuses on monitoring the Syrian refugee human rights situation in Lebanon and publishes periodic updates on general violations as well as conducts continuous studies on specific collective cases. 

ACHR seeks to improve the human rights situation in Lebanon and concentrates its efforts on advocacy with the aim of influencing policies and practices of governmental and non-governmental entities working on refugee issues and responsible for their protection. Submission of complaints to the Special Rapporteurs is considered an essential aspect of ACHR’s work in advocacy and awareness activities on human rights violations in Lebanon. 

The complaint was sent to:

The Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders, Ms. Mary Lawlor;

The Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism, Ms. E. Tendayi Achiume;

The Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Prof. Nils Melzer.