During the implementation of the “Torture Prevention and Monitoring in Lebanon” (TPML) project in 2008, ALEF noticed that state violations occur on a daily basis against vulnerable groups, mainly drug addicts, illegal migrant workers, prostitutes, and LGBT persons. Following the success of this project, a second project funded by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, in December 2009, aimed to prevent torture and ill treatment in Lebanon, as well as effectively monitor and report torture allegations. The project worked not only on legal and media aspects, but also tried to understand the socio-political and cultural facets, to raise awareness about the linkages between violence and the acceptance of the practice of torture.
Torture is a widely acceptable practice in the Lebanese community whether it is by individuals or law enforcement officers. The practice was allowed while interrogating alleged terrorists and persons convicted of national security crimes. Suspects were consistently tortured during the Nahr el-Bared conflict against Fateh el Islam in May 2007 in northern Lebanon. Arbitrary and incommunicado detention is still rife; no independent investigation of these detentions has been launched, and the torture of suspects is still not considered an illegal crime. The provisions of the UN Convention Against Torture have not been transposed into national laws and domestic rules. The Optional Protocol for the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT) was ratified on the 22nd of December, but is still yet to be implemented. The media also choose to refrain from highlighting the issue as it “doesn’t sell” and is unlikely to stir public opinion since torture is not perceived as a violation to begin with. Most CSOs working in prisons do not report the current situation to the public for fear of breaching confidentiality agreements they have signed with the Ministry of the Interior to gain access to the prison. Very few torture cases are prosecuted and very few lawyers are interested in abolishing this crime.
TPML II aims to strengthen efforts towards prevention of torture and ill treatment in Lebanon as well as the effective monitoring and reporting of torture allegations. ALEF works on different segments on both the national and international levels, ranging from advocating for the effective implementation of the United Nations Convention Against Torture and the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture .
ALEF and its partners focus in this project on different target groups in order to mobilize civil society at large towards the prohibition of this practice. TMPL II enhanced the capacities of journalists, lawyers and civil society institutions in preventing, monitoring and reporting torture, establishing a monitoring and reporting mechanism. Finally, TMPL II pushed for a long-term advocacy plan on national and international fronts for the effective implementation of the UNCAT and OPCAT.