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Lebanon
12.10.11
Urgent Interventions

Ongoing judicial harassment against two representatives of the Lebanese Centre for Human Rights

URGENT APPEAL - THE OBSERVATORY

New information

LBN 001 / 0311 / OBS 036.1

Ongoing judicial harassment

Lebanon

October 12, 2011

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), has received new information requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Lebanon.

New information:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the ongoing judicial harassment against two representatives of the Lebanese Centre for Human Rights (Centre libanais des droits humains - CLDH).

According to the information received, on October 11, 2011, the two CLDH representatives, Ms. Marie Daunay and Mr. Wadih Al-Asmar, appeared before the Investigating Judge at Baabda Court, in the framework of the continuation of an investigation opened on the basis of a complaint filed by Amal Movement against CLDH, following the publication on February 10, 2011 of a report entitled Arbitrary Detention and Torture : the bitter reality of Lebanon[1] (See background information).

At that hearing, the Judge requested the lawyer of Ms. Marie Daunay and Mr. Wadih Al-Asmar to formulate his remarks on the substance of the case by two weeks. He also requested the lawyer of the plaintiff to reply to these remarks by two additional weeks.

The next hearing was scheduled for January 11, 2012.

The Observatory fears that CLDH and its representatives might be further harassed in relation to their human rights activities, and calls upon the Lebanese authorities to conform in all circumstances with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998 (UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders).

Background information:

On March 14, 2011, Ms. Marie Daunay and Mr. Wadih Al-Asmar were notified that they were requested to present themselves to the criminal investigation service at the Ministry of Justice in Beirut on March 17, 2011 at 10 a.m. The summons was then postponed to March 22, 2011. During the interrogation, the two CLDH representatives were not allowed to be assisted by a lawyer, and used their right to remain silent, guaranteed notably by Article 47 of the Lebanese Criminal Procedure Code.

A hearing of CLDH representatives took place on July 6, 2011 before the Baabda Court, and was postponed to give CLDH sufficient time to appoint a lawyer.

The Observatory was also informed that late August 2011, unidentified individuals broke into CLDH premises and stole, inter alia, money, computer equipment and an official stamp of CLDH. As a consequence, any official document stamped with black ink by CLDH could potentially be a false document. Since early September, CLDH has therefore been stamping its documents with blue ink. As of issuing this Urgent Appeal, the investigation on the burglary was reportedly ongoing.

Actions requested:

Please write to the Lebanese authorities urging them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Ms. Marie Daunay and Mr. Wadih Al-Asmar, other representatives of CLDH, as well as of all human rights defenders in Lebanon;

ii. Put an end to any acts of harassment, including at the administrative and judicial levels, against Ms. Marie Daunay and Mr. Wadih Al-Asmar, and more generally against all human rights defenders in Lebanon;

iii. Carry out a thorough, effective and impartial investigation into the above-mentioned burglary of CLDH premises, the result of which must be made public, in order to identify all those responsible, bring them before a civil competent and impartial tribunal and apply to them the penal sanctions provided by the law;

iv. Conform with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, especially:

- its Article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”,

- its Article 6 (b) and (c), which states that “Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others […] as provided for in human rights and other applicable international instruments, freely to publish, impart or disseminate to others views, information and knowledge on all human rights and fundamental freedoms and [...] to study, discuss, form and hold opinions on the observance, both in law and in practice, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms and, through these and other appropriate means, to draw public attention to those matters”;

- its Article 12.2, which provides that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”;

v. More generally, ensure in all circumstances the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Lebanon.

Addresses :

· Mr. Michel Suleiman, President of the Republic, Presidential Palace, Baabda, Lebanon. Fax: + 961 (0)5-922400

· Mr. Saad Hariri, Prime Minister, Grand Serail, Beirut, Lebanon. Fax: + 961 (0)1-983060

· Dr. Ibrahim Najjar, Minister of Justice, Ministry of Justice, Adlieh, Beirut, Lebanon. Fax: +961 (0)1-612564

· Mr. Ziad Baroud, Minister of Interior, Ministry of Interior, Sanayeh, Beirut, Lebanon. Fax: +961 (0)1-751622

· Permanent Mission of Lebanon to the United Nations in Geneva, rue de Moillebeau 58, 1209 Geneva, Switzerland. E-mail: mission.lebanon@ties.itu.int, Fax : +41 22 791 85 80

· Embassy of Lebanon in Brussels, rue G. Stocq, 2 1050 Brussels, Belgium. E-mail: ambassade.liban@brutele.be, Fax: +32 2.645.77.69

Please also write to the diplomatic mission or embassy of Lebanon in your respective countries.

***

Paris-Geneva, October 12, 2011

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory, a FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to the protection of Human Rights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:

· E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org

· Tel and fax FIDH + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80

· Tel and fax OMCT + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29

[1] See http://humanrights-lb.org/upload/Torture%20and%20Arbitrary%20Detention%20ENGL.pdf.

The report contains more than 60 pages outlining patterns of arbitrary detention and torture in Lebanon, based on statistical data, testimonies and interviews, and tackling the alleged practices of most of the Lebanese security services dealing with arrests. The Amal Movement seems to have initiated its lawsuit against CLDH on the basis of four lines of the report, where CLDH states that it gathered testimonies of arrests by Amal Movement in which, in some cases, serious allegations of torture during investigation were revealed (page 25), while explaining in its conclusions that it was not possible to evaluate the frequency of these torture allegations specifically (page 29).

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