Lebanon:Four individuals at risk of death penaltyFour individuals who were tortured by agents of the Lebanese security forces, particularly during the period they were held incommunicado, face trial on 21 June 2011.
Alkarama is concerned that false confessions extracted under torture may be used during this hearing and has therefore submitted their cases to the Special Rapporteur on Torture and the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions as they are at risk of the death penalty.
The four individuals on trial are:
1. Mr Abbas Ahmed Jizzini (عباس أحمد جزيني), of Lebanese nationality, currently aged 25 years. On 15 June 2009, Mr Jizzini was arrested by agents of the Internal Security Forces, from his work place in Sabra district, Beirut.
2. Mr Ghassan Mahmoud Shehadeh (غسان مجمود شحادة), holds a Palestinian document issued by the Syrian authorities, currently aged 24 years. On 9 July 2009, Mr Shehadeh was arrested by agents from the Military Intelligence who were wearing civilian clothes, in Sabra district, Beirut.
3. Mr Ahmed Mahmoud Shehadeh (أحمد محمود شحادة), holds Palestinian document and currently aged 25 years. On 9 July 2009, Mr Shehadeh was arrested by agents from the Military Intelligence who were wearing civilian clothes, in Sabra district in Beirut.
4. Mr Monjed Mohamed Nour Al Faham (منجد محمد نور الفحام), of Syrian nationality, currently aged 32 years was living in Athens before his arrival in Lebanon. On 29 July 2009, Mr Al Faham was arrested by agents of the Military Intelligence as well as General Security forces at Beirut International Airport at his arrival from Athens. During his arrest, Mr Al Faham's bags were searched and he was subjected to ill-treatment.
The four men's detention follow a similar pattern: following their arrest, they were taken to the Ministry of Defence for approximately one week before being held at the military police station for many days. They were transferred numerous times from one branch to another, particularly at the barracks of the Military police in the Rihaniyya district where they were detained incommunicado for 8 months.
During their incommunicado detention, the above-named individuals were subjected to many acts of torture, especially while they were detained at the Ministry of Defence as well as at the barracks of the military police. They were all savagely beaten and suspended for many days (the "Balanco" method). They were regularly forced to stand against a wall for many hours, threatened and insulted before being forced to sign confessions and warned that they should not change their confession when meeting the judge.
On 17 February 2010, the investigating judge at the Military court, officially accused these four individuals of acts of terrorism and asked that they be handed the death penalty. They are currently being tried together. All of them are detained in Roumieh prison, awaiting their trial on 1 June 2011 in which they risk being heavily sentenced on the basis of a dossier containing confessions extracted under duress and torture.
Torture in Lebanon is prohibited by the Criminal Procedure Code of 2001. The Code states that witnesses must not be forced to speak or to be interrogated by a judicial officer under the penalty of invalidating their statements (art. 47), and examining judges must ensure that defendants make statements without external influences, either moral or physical (art. 77).
In addition, the Criminal Code of 1 March 1943 provides for sanctions for those who "inflict violent practices not permitted by the law against another person with the intention to extract a confession of a crime or information related to it" (art. 401).
However, Alkarama documented in its report "Torture in Lebanon: Time to break the pattern" of October 2009, (available on our website www.alkarama.org), the information provided is consistent with other reported incidents of torture and ill-treatment in Lebanon. The methods used, forces responsible, locations of torture and reasons for which it used are all described by numerous other NGOs.
With regards to Lebanon's national and international obligations and more particularly article 15 of Convention against Torture (CAT)'s, Alkarama asks that Lebanese authorities to refrain from using confessions extracted under duress or torture in court proceedings, notably in the cases of the above-named individuals. Furthermore, the Lebanese Government has to ensure that any torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment of these above-named is brought to an end and prosecute those responsible.