Since 2005 little change has been noticed on the protection of human rights. This is especially true when considering the state of prisons, the situation of the Lebanese detainees in Syria and Lebanon, continuous violations to the freedom of expression, and the violations affecting the right to life. The government’s careless attitude led to limited knowledge of the practical aspects of human rights by both parliamentary members and Lebanese civilians. Consequently, human rights violations, particularly those relating to torture, are rarely denounced.
Lebanon is committed to the principles and conventions stipulated in international charters. Its own civil legislation is generally consistent with international code. More specifically, the Penal Law and the new Code of Criminal Procedure both prohibit any form of violence, torture or inhumane and degrading treatment. Despite these, safeguards laid down in law seem to be insufficient and are frequently breached in practice. Officers designated to enforce the law sometimes torture suspects. Those appointed to administer justice fail to prevent police brutality and may even, by failing to investigate allegations of torture, appear to condone it. The conditions in detention facilities may even amount to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. It is clear that a public discourse on how to combat Lebanon’s culture of silence and fear of discussion of torture.
In order to address this, ALEF, in partnership with IKV Pax Christi and PAX Christi International, and with the support of the European Union, sought to mobilize local communities towards detecting, addressing, and reporting torture cases, as well as promoting torture prevention among the general population. This was in addition to advocating for the implementation of international norms and procedures related to the prevention of torture and decreasing impunity in Lebanon. ALEF initiated a centralization system to process and analyze the compiled information on reported cases of torture and produce a report on torture.
By creating a centralization system, ALEF was able to publish a practical guide on national and international protection mechanisms relevant to combatting torture, conducting capacity building trainings for civil society institutions on detecting, and addressing and reporting torture cases.. The project managers coordinated with other NGOs and international organizations in an effort to combat torture. Together, ALEF and Lebanese NGO, Restart, came up with a project called “Working Group on Torture Prevention.”
This project enables ALEF to have a detailed understanding of the prevalence of violations related to torture and ill-treatment in detention centers and prisons. Most of which is focused on vulnerable groups such as drug addicts, undocumented migrants, sex workers, lesbians, gays, bisexuals, inter-sex individuals, and people detained for national security reasons.
The work ALEF is conducting on torture prevention and monitoring is ongoing, and continues to feed into the organization’s advocacy work.