©Private

Lebanon: Indictment of State Security members in torture case an ‘encouraging development’

Responding to the news that Judge Najat Abou Chakra has indicted five State Security members on charges of torture in the case of Syrian refugee Bashar Abdel Saud, who died in custody, Aya Majzoub, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa, said:

“The fact that Lebanon is finally taking a step towards implementing its anti-torture law is an encouraging development that offers a ray of hope to Bashar Abdel Saud’s family and other victims. For years, systematic practices of torture and other forms of ill-treatment and violations in detention centres have gone unpunished.

The judiciary must continue on its path towards justice and act on these cases promptly to prevent similar abuses from occurring in the future.

Aya Majzoub, Amnesty International.

“The Lebanese authorities must now transfer this case from the inherently unfair military courts to the ordinary criminal courts. Both Lebanese law and international legal standards affirm that trials for human rights violations should be conducted in regular courts to ensure that justice is delivered.

“Meanwhile, dozens of complaints citing the anti-torture law remain uninvestigated, including the case of Lebanese actor Ziad Itani, who was subjected to torture by members of State Security in 2017. The judiciary must continue on its path towards justice and act on these cases promptly to prevent similar abuses from occurring in the future.”

Background

Members of State Security, one of Lebanon’s intelligence agencies, allegedly tortured Bashar Abdel Saud, 30, after his arrest on 30 August 2022. He died from his injuries a day later.

On 2 September, the Military Prosecutor arrested a State Security officer and four other members on torture charges before referring them to Najat Abu Chakra, a Military Investigative Judge. On 29 November, Abu Chakra indicted five State Security members on torture charges under the 2017 anti-torture law. The decision was only publicly reported on 4 December.

Amnesty International regularly documents the use of torture and other ill-treatment in Lebanese detention centres. In March 2021, Amnesty International released a report documenting an array of violations, including torture, against 26 Syrian refugees, including four children, held on terrorism-related charges between 2014 and 2021.