Video leaks from the notorious prison of Roumieh have made the headlines last week. In the videos, we can see guards humiliating and abusing detainees. One of the detainee was Omar al Atrash, a cleric that smuggled car bombs and Islamist terrorists into Lebanon.
I have argued why we should never allow the use of torture and abuse against prisoners in this post. Abusing them and torturing them helps their propaganda and their recruitment, and it doesn’t make the authorities better than the inhumane acts of IS and the Nusra front.
The videos are just a “sample” of the current status of Torture in Lebanon.
The videos were presented as an isolated incident by the Lebanese officials, but this claim is far from the reality on the ground, as argues Belen Fernandez in Middle East Eye. In fact, in 2014, the UN has already assessed the prisons in Lebanon and have found that torture use is systematic.
“Torture in Lebanon is a pervasive practice that is routinely used by the armed forces and law enforcement agencies for the purpose of investigation, for securing confessions to be used in criminal proceedings and, in some cases for punishing acts that the victim is believed to have committed.”
An article from al Akhbar in 2014 reports on UN findings.
The committee said that there is brutality in the torture methods used in detention centers. There are unusual tools and even special equipment designed especially for torture. Besides, the serious injuries observed on the bodies of victims during medical examinations suggest the widespread practice of torture and the impunity of the perpetrators.
Lebanon has signed and accessed in 2000 the United Nations Conventions against Torture, which stipulates in the second article that: No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.
Lebanon should follow the treaty rules it has signed.
70% of Lebanese justify the use of torture by their own government.
It seems that the state authorities are acting with a tacit support from the population. Pew Research revealed, with regards to the US torture case, that over 70% of Lebanese justify torture. Pew Research has asked the following questions in numerous countries.
1) “In the period following the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks in the US, the US government used interrogations method that many consider to be torture on people suspected of terrorism. In your opinion, were these interrogations methods justified, or not justified?” 35% of Lebanese answered that they were justified.
2) “If the Lebanese government used torture against people suspected of terrorism to try to gain information about possible attacks in our country, do you think this could be justified or could not be justified? ” A bit more than 70% of Lebanese answered it could be justified. There is only one country in the survey that could justify torture, Ugunda.