Lebanon: Failure to implement anti-torture law one year on

Commenting on the Lebanese government’s failure to implement a law passed last year criminalizing torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Amnesty International’s Lebanon researcher, Sahar Mandour, said: 

“Since the anti-torture legislation was passed a year ago, it is extremely worrying to see that the National Human Rights Institute, which the law assigned to oversee its implementation, is still inactive and dysfunctional.

“The Lebanese government’s delay in allocating an independent budget for the operation of the 10-member National Human Rights Institute and in triggering the process of nominating five of its members to form the National Preventive Mechanism against torture is deeply troubling. 

Without proper implementation of the law, Lebanon’s efforts to combat torture are reduced to a mere window-dressing exercise leaving many still at risk of torture and other ill-treatment
Sahar Mandour, Amnesty International's Lebanon researcher

“Without proper implementation of the law, Lebanon’s efforts to combat torture are reduced to a mere window-dressing exercise leaving many still at risk of torture and other ill-treatment. 

“We urgently call on both the Lebanese government and Parliament to act immediately and to translate words into action to ensure an implementing mechanism is up and running in an effective, transparent, and thorough manner.”

Background:

On 19 September 2017, the Lebanese parliament passed Law number (65) criminalizing torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. The law came into effect when it was published in the official gazette on 26 October 2017. 

The law was in many ways in line with international law. However, it did not fully comply with the recommendations of the UN Committee against Torture issued in May 2017. Among other things the law criminalized torture only in specific situations, introduced a statute of limitation for prosecuting torture, and lacked clear clauses banning the Military Court from looking into allegations of torture. 

Amnesty International has documented in the past four years cases in which complaints of torture leading to death in custody were raised against the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF). The Military Court investigated these allegations but despite clear evidence of torture failed to ensure accountability. 

Lebanon ratified the UN Convention against Torture and its Optional Protocol in 2000 and 2008 respectively. In its latest review in 2017, the Committee against Torture urged Lebanon to take the necessary steps to activate the National Human Rights Institute and the National Preventive Mechanism against torture.