Lebanon: Layal Al Kayaje Facing Trial before Military Court for Having Spoken Up About Her Rape by Military Officers

Layal Al Kayaje

On 29 June 2016, Layal Al Kayaje, a 31-year-old Palestinian resident in the port city of Saida, South Lebanon, and veterinary, will stand her first hearing before the Military Court in Beirut for "defamation and libel against the Lebanese army". These charges were laid down because she publicly denounced her rape by military officers when she was detained in 2013.

Considering that the free expression of Al Kayaje speaking out against her rape should in no way constitute a crime, Alkarama called upon the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression (SR FREEDEX) to urge the Lebanese authorities to drop the charges against her and open an investigation into the allegations of torture.

In an interview published on 4 September 2015 on NOW News, Al Kayaje denounced having been raped by members of the Military Intelligence during her detention at the Military Police Barracks in Rihaniyyeh in September 2013. In retaliation, on 21 September 2015, she was summoned by the Military intelligence in Saida and transferred to the premises of the Ministry of Defence in Yarzeh near Baabda in the Mount Lebanon Governorate where she was detained incommunicado, interrogated and forced to sign a statement according to which she "invented the rape allegations."

Brought before the investigative judge of the Military Court on 29 September 2015, he confirmed the charges of "defamation and libel against the Lebanese army," without considering her torture allegations and opening an investigation. She was released a month later and formally indicted on 24 November 2015 on the basis of article 157 the Military Justice Code.

Al Kayaje's first hearing for her trial will be held on 29 June 2016 at the Military Court in Beirut. "We are extremely concerned over the fact that Al Kayaje is subjected to trial for having merely spoken out about her rape. Publicly denouncing abuses, Al Kayaje's allegations being furthermore consistent with the findings of the Committee against Torture in its inquiry on Lebanon, can never be considered a crime," states Rachid Mesli, Legal Director at Alkarama. Silencing Al Kayaje's voice is a blatant violation of her right to freedom of opinion and expression. Instead of prosecuting her, the judicial authorities should open a proper, impartial and independent investigation into her allegations of rape."

Alkarama therefore wrote to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression (SR FREEDEX) demanding his urgent intervention to ask the Lebanese authorities to drop all charges against Al Kayaje and to request them to open an investigation into her allegations of rape and torture during her detention by the Military Intelligence. As it allows prosecutions for mere acts of free speech critical of the army, and in particular of victims denouncing abuses, article 157 of the Military Justice Code should also be repealed.

For more information or an interview, please contact media@alkarama.org (Tel: +41 22 734 1008).

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