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Drop “Defamation” Charges against Anti-Torture Activists

Lebanon:Drop “Defamation” Charges against Anti-Torture Activists

Geneva/Paris/Copenhagen/Dublin,June 8: The Observatory for the Protectionof Human Rights Defenders (a joint programme of the World Organisation againstTorture – OMCT and FIDH), the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network, Front LineDefenders and ACAT strongly condemn the ongoing judicial harassment againstrepresentatives of the Lebanese Centre for Human Rights (CLDH) for denouncingacts of arbitrary detention and torture.

Ourorganisations denounce this attempt to instrumentalise the judiciary for politicalends and call upon the Lebanese judiciary to drop all charges in theforthcoming trial session scheduled on June 11 when the presiding judge issupposed to rule on the case.

On June 11, 2015 Ms. Marie Daunay and Mr. Wadih Al-Asmar, respectivelyPresident and Secretary General of the Lebanese Centre for Human Rights (CLDH),will appear before the Publication Court for a second public session in aninvestigation commenced in March 2011. The two human rights defenders areaccused of “defamation” and could face up to a one-year jail sentence and afine. CLDH is a member organisation of OMCT and EMHRN, working on arbitrary detention,torture and enforced disappearance.

The case is based on a complaint filed by the leader of the AmalMovement, a Lebanese party, and head of the Lebanese Parliament against CLDH,following the publication on February 10, 2011 of a report entitled “Arbitrary Detention and Torture: The Bitter Reality ofLebanon”, denouncing alleged torturepractices perpetrated by Lebanese security services. In one paragraph, thereport mentions testimonies of arrests by Amal Movement. During some of theseinvestigations, some serious allegations of torture were made.

In the presence of NGOs and diplomats, including representatives of theEuropean Union and the United Nations, the first public court session of thetrial was held on March 17 at the Publication Court of Baabda presided by JudgeElias Khoury who said he would render his judgement on June 11.

Our organisations strongly condemn the ongoingjudicial harassment against the representatives of CLDH aiming at sanctioningtheir work and fundamental role in denouncing human rights violations. Westrongly urge the authorities to put an end to such practices and immediatelyand unconditionally drop all charges against them. The Lebanese authoritiesmust also guarantee the physical and psychological integrity of Ms. Daunay andMr. Al-Asmar and other CLDH staff, as well as that of all human rightsdefenders in Lebanon.

Finally, we call upon the Lebanese authorities to ensure full respectfor human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with internationalhuman rights standards and international instruments ratified by Lebanon, aswell as the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the UN GeneralAssembly.

For more information, please contact:

· OMCT: Miguel Martín Zumalacárregui: + 41(0) 22 809 49 24

· FIDH: Arthur Manet/Lucie Kroening: + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18

· EMHRN: Samer Abu Rass:0032 2 503 19 73

· Front Line Defenders: JimLoughran: + 353 (0) 1 212 37 50

· ACAT : PierreMotin : +33 1 40 40 40 24 / +33 6 12 12 63 94

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