Our organizations call for the immediate and unconditional release of Mr. Saad Muhammad Ismaïl, a 54-year-old Iraqi refugee, illegally detained in Lebanon since July 4th 2007, or 31 months.
Arrested on May 4th 2007, Saad Ismaïl was sentenced on July 4th 2007 to two months of prison for a minor offense and should have been released on the very same day of his conviction. He has been detained since the end of his sentence without any legal basis.
By means of this detention, the Lebanese authorities wish to force him to return to Iraq, despite the fact that his refugee status is recognized by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and despite the lack of any legal expulsion order against him.
M. Saad Ismaïl, who has been living in Lebanon for 25 years, is not well psychologically. He is also completely exhausted physically. He is currently held at the retention center of the General Security, a detention place created under a bridge of Beirut in an old parking lot, where hundreds of foreigners are crammed in, the majority being arbitrarily detained in inhumane conditions and apparently with no legal supervision.
Prolonged arbitrary detention is a common practice of the General Security which aims to force asylum seekers and refugees to “accept” returning to their countries of origin.
The prolonged detention of Mr. Ismaïl, which has no legal basis and aims to force him to accept his expulsion represents:
- A violation of Lebanese Law including:
- Article 8 of the Lebanese Constitution which guarantees individual freedom and protects against arbitrary detention.
- Article 406 of the Code of Criminal Procedure which requires the release of all condemned the day their sentence expires.
- A violation of Lebanon’s international commitments including:
- Article 9 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which prohibits arbitrary detention and which has constitutional value by virtue of paragraph (b) of the preamble of the Lebanese Constitution.
- Article 9.1 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Lebanon is a party and which stipulates that “No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention. No one shall be deprived of his liberty except on such grounds and in accordance with such procedure as are established by law.”
- Article 3 of the Convention against Torture, to which Lebanon is a party which prohibits the deportation of a foreigner to a country where he / she may be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.
Moreover, prolonged detention without legal justification involves the criminal and administrative responsibility of the detaining authorities. Indeed, under Article 368 of the Penal Code and Article 58 of the internal rules of prisons, any guard who agrees to imprison a person beyond the expiry of his sentence, is punishable by one to three years imprisonment.
Four recent court decisions on Iraqi refugees arbitrarily detained after the expiry of their sentences have found a favorable outcome, the justice system demanding their immediate release. But it seems that, to date, the General Security has only responded to one of these decisions.
The case of Mr. Saad Muhammad Ismaïl was presented to the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention through the urgent action procedure, considering that the life of Mr. Saad Muhammad Ismail may be in danger due to his prolonged detention as well as the detention conditions and taking into account his psychological state and his physical exhaustion.
Our organizations urge the Lebanese authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Mr. Saad Ismail and all other persons detained arbitrarily. We hold the Lebanese authorities responsible for their physical and psychological integrity. We also call for an investigation on the systematic use of arbitrary detention by the General Security and for the launch of judicial proceedings pursuant to Lebanese Law against all persons responsible for these detentions.
- OMCT (World Organization Against Torture)
- EMHRN (Euro Mediterranean Human Rights Network)
- AEDH (Act Together for Human Rights)
- Frontiers - Ruwad Association
- CLDH (Lebanese Center for Human Rights)
- ACAT (Action by Christians Against Torture)
 According to the United Nations Committee against Torture, “articles 3 to 15 are likewise obligatory as applied to both torture and ill-treatment” (CAT/C/GC/2 §6 ).
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