Press Release – Documentation of a Complaint for a refugee victim of torture and arbitrary detention in Lebanon

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On 6 January 2022, Access Center for Human Rights (ACHR) submitted a complaint to the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council regarding the arbitrary arrest and detention and the ill treatment of a Syrian refugee by the Lebanese armed forces.

Summary of the submitted case:

Mr. A.A. A Syrian citizen defected from the Syrian army in October 2013 after completing his compulsory military service as a sergeant for more than three years. In August 2014, he entered Lebanon illegally and resided in the town of Aarsal – Baalbek for several months, before deciding to head towards Beirut.

In March 2015, on his way to Beirut, Mr. A.A. was forcibly disappeared upon his arrest at a Lebanese army intelligence checkpoint in the town of Labweh near Aarsal, after his family searched for him for a month and a half, to no avail, and the Lebanese authorities denied his presence at security forces after his family.

He was detained for two days in the Intelligence Center of the Lebanese Army Intelligence Agency, then transferred to another branch of the Intelligence Agency for interrogation, where he remained for seven days, during which he was subjected to torture in various forms and methods, including: beatings and strikes everywhere on his body and hanging his legs from the ceiling, the method of “the carpet of the wind”.

Mr. A.A. stated: “I was beaten and forced to confess to three ready-made charges, I chose what I found to be the least severe sentence with the least impact, so I confessed to having joined the factions of the Free Syrian Army”.

Mr. A.A. was then transferred to the Ministry of Defense in Beirut and held for nine days under investigation, after which he was placed in solitary confinement for 48 hours to be reinterrogated again before another investigator who used a similar method of forcibly extracting confessions. He says the officers took him from the interrogation room to the bathroom to beat him with the intention of “avoiding the surveillance cameras in the interrogation rooms”.

After the investigation was completed, Mr. A.A. was transferred to the military court. He remained in the military prison for 15 days and was sentenced to one year in prison on charges of belonging to a terrorist group. He was released after more than a year, as he spent his sentence in Roumieh prison.

Access Center for Human Rights (ACHR) requested the UN Special Procedures to present its recommendations to the Lebanese authorities and

The Access Center for Human Rights (ACHR) called on the Special Procedures to submit their recommendations to the Lebanese authorities and urge them to respect and abide by their obligations under international treaties and conventions, particularly regarding due process. We also call on the Lebanese authorities to investigate violations committed on their territory, especially inside Lebanese prisons and during investigations, and ensure the right of victims of human rights violations to obtain effective compensation.

ACHR also urges the UN Special Procedures to enter into a dialogue with the Lebanese government in order to visit Lebanese territory to monitor the human rights situation of Syrian refugees in Lebanon, report on and make recommendations thereon, and to review the reports of the universal periodic review for Lebanon in which ACHR participated.

Access Center for Human Rights (ACHR) is a non-profit and non-governmental human rights organization based in Beirut and Paris, founded in 2017, and includes a group of young people with experience in law and local and international advocacy.

ACHR launched its activities in Lebanon, due to its belief in supporting refugee rights, at a time of a rise in serious violations against them. ACHR is specialized in monitoring the human rights refugee situation and publishes periodic publications on mass violations with the aim of raising awareness and international advocacy to ensure the right to human dignity in the countries of asylum until their voluntary, dignified, and safe return to their country of origin.

This complaint was submitted to:

Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Professor Nils Melzer.
The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.
The Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances.

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