Lebanon: Torture and trial of civilians by military courts

On the 3 September 2007, Alkarama for Human Rights sent details of ten cases of severe torture and inhuman and degrading treatment that occurred in Lebanon in the months of March and April 2007 to the Special Rapporteur on torture.

The ten people whose names are listed below are currently being prosecuted before the military court in Beirut despite the fact that they are all civilians. It would also appear that they are being charged by the military courts for offences that are not of a military nature.

They are:
1 - Hussam Issam Dallal, born 8 August 1986 in Al Jadida (Nabatieh), student at the University of Beirut, residing with his family, in Al Qubba Manteqat, Tripoli, in northern Lebanon. He was arrested on the 1April 2007 at his home by military intelligence officers.

2 - Naif Salem AL Baqqar, born on the 6 October 1983, at Al Qubba (Tripoli), student at the University of Sidon (Tripoli). He was asked by military intelligence to appear before the military services on 23 March 2007, and was arrested on arrival.

3 - Mahmoud Ahmed Abdelkader, born on 1 February 1978 in Mehal, car mechanic. He was arrested on 31 March 2007 near his home in Al Qubba (Tripoli).

4-Faisal Ahmed Arradj, born on the 1 January 1983 in Al Haddadain, Tripoli, civil servant. He was arrested on 31 March 2007 at 12 noon at the place of his work in Akkar (Tripoli).

5-Ahmed Al Billal Badwi Assayed, born 18 November 1976, accountant. He was arrested at his home on 4 March 2007.

6 - Mohamed Al Assad Nadjari of Palestinian nationality, born in Lebanon on 1 January 1975, construction worker. He was arrested at his home after work on 2 April  2007.

7 - Omar Al Ali Azzedine, born on 11 November 1972, taxi driver. He was arrested at his home on 23 March 2007.

8 - Mohamed Omar Ghenoum, born 15 January 1979, accountant. He was arrested on 31 March 2007 at the place of his work.

9 - Ahmed Mohamed Ghazi Al Ratl, born 11 March 1973 in Tripoli. He was arrested at his home on 31 March 2007.

10 - Tarek Mamdouh Al Haj Amin, born 29 October 1982 in Tripoli, carpenter. He was arrested at his home on 31 March 2007

These individuals were arrested by military intelligence officers who failed to show a judicial warrant, and who did not tell them why they were being arrested.

After being held for a few days in the regional headquarters of the army intelligence services in Tripoli, they were transferred to the Ministry of Defense in Beirut where their incommunicado detention continued, in some cases for a fortnight.

During this incommunicado detention, they were all tortured and subjected to serious abuse by military intelligence officers.

They all reported having been beaten all over their body, either with sticks or with a rubber hose, right from the moment of their arrest.

Some, like Mahmoud Ahmed Abdelkader, also report having been subjected to the "fallaqa", a form of torture where the victim is beaten on the soles of their feet until they bleed.

All were also forced to stand against a wall for long periods or sit for several days on a stool. Naif Al Salem Baqqar was forced to sit on a stool for 6 consecutive days without interruption. He was placed under constant supervision and severely beaten by his torturers whenever he showed a sign of weakness or fatigue.

He was then hung from the ceiling by the wrists for several hours and the military threatened to kidnap his wife and rape her.

Azzedine Omar Al Ali was forced to stand for 48 hours, then to sit on a stool for three consecutive days, in spite of his poor health. He was then hung by his wrists until he passed out. He was also threatened with rape, and that his torturers would rape his wife.

All of them were deprived of sleep for several days, as the torturers took turns at night to prevent them from falling asleep. They were also prevented from using the toilet.

After this period of torture at the Ministry of Defence, they were presented before a military judge who charged them with an attempt to form an armed group, and also with undermining the security of the state.

They were then transferred to a special division of the Roumieh prison, where they now languish. They have not been given any care despite the injuries they suffered as a result of weeks of torture, which left them in a very bad physical and psychological state.

Several of the victims asked the military judge to appoint a medical expert to determine that they had been tortured, evidence of which is still visible. The judge has thus far refused their request on the grounds that "he is not empowered to grant such a request" and that "it is the responsibility of the claimant to provide evidence of torture."

This response from the judicial authorities demonstrates the extent of the military court's bad faith and lack of objectivity, and foreshadows the outcome of these ongoing trials.

Alkarama for Human Rights is particularly concerned that the statements based on confessions extracted under torture are not taken into account by the military court, since they could be used to condemn them to long prison sentences.