Lebanese security forces face investigation over torture allegations

State Security forces have faced multiple allegations of human rights abuses in recent years

Members of Lebanon's security forces in Beirut on August 7. AFP
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Five security agents are being investigated in Lebanon on charges of torturing a Syrian refugee, who then died under interrogation, authorities said on Sunday.

The suspects are members of the country’s State Security agency, according to a judicial source who spoke to AFP, adding that Fadi Akiki, the commissioner of the country’s military courts, had ordered the initial investigation into the man’s death.

The victim reportedly endured several hours of torture before dying of a heart attack, despite being rushed to hospital.

State Security services verified the suspect’s death, naming him as Bashar Abdel Saud.

He was suspected of being a member of ISIS.

In pictures seen by AFP, the body of the deceased was covered in cuts and bruises. The bodies of fellow detainees who survived their ordeal also bore signs of torture.

The State Security agency, which has faced multiple allegations of torture in the past, said Abdel Saud's death had been referred to the "competent authorities".

Torture in Lebanon is prohibited under a 2017 law, but allegations that abuse of detainees is frequent continue to surface. The country has a National Human Rights Commission, as well as a Committee for the Prevention of Torture, and the International Committee of the Red Cross is allowed to inspect prisons.

But rights groups have expressed “concerns about military courts” as well as “the existence of places of secret detention used both by the State and non-State actors,” the US State Department said last year in a report on the country’s human rights situation.

The report also said that, “authorities acknowledged violent abuse sometimes occurred during pretrial detention at police stations or military installations where officials interrogated suspects without an attorney present”.

The UN, which made a series of recommendations to Lebanese security services in 2010, said in May that many of these had not been implemented.

“The establishment of an independent, well-resourced and properly functioning national preventive mechanism is key to preventing torture and ill-treatment. Lebanon still has to take strong and urgent action in this regard,” said a statement from the UN sub-committee on the prevention of torture.

Updated: September 04, 2022, 11:52 AM