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Lebanon: Judges use WhatsApp to interrogate detainees amid coronavirus lockdown

This method of interrogation is the first of its kind in Lebanon and is part of social distancing measures put in place to combat the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Judges in Lebanon have started interrogating detainees via WhatsApp video call, according to a tweet from the General Directorate of the Internal Security Forces on Monday.

The tweet said that “in light of the measures taken to prevent the spread of the coronavirus… a Syrian minor (born in 2002) who was arrested was interrogated through the application of WhatsApp-video call.”

This method of interrogation is the first of its kind in Lebanon and is part of social distancing measures put in place to combat the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Attorney General Ghassan Oueidat issued two circulars regarding detention and the judiciary. The second advised against all but essential arrests, and allowed judges to interrogate detainees electronically, provided questioning adheres to the law.

Ouiedat added that judicial officials should not start investigations for the duration of the coronavirus shutdown, except where extremely necessary.

Adhering to the circular, the Lebanese army raided Tripoli’s souks on Monday, shutting all shops, closing the gates and ordering all people present to return home.

Shops which had violated the government-mandated lockdown were sealed with red wax and are set to face legal proceedings once the outbreak subsidies.

Read: Lebanon to stop paying all maturing Eurobonds, shuts down parliament amid coronavirus fears

According to a tweet from the Lebanese Army account, military personnel delivered aid to the poorest areas of Tripoli.

The Army and Internal Security Forces (ISF) were deployed on Sunday after orders from Prime Minister Hassan Diab to forcibly impose the quarantine after several residents were seen violating the order over the weekend.

Lebanon has reported four deaths and 304 confirmed cases including two former ministers, May Chidiac and Mohammad Safadi.

UNIFIL spokesperson Andrea Tenenti said a soldier tested positive when tested upon his return from holiday on 15 March, adding that “the peacekeeper is in complete isolation at the UNIFIL Naqoura Hospital and all the precautionary measures have been followed to prevent the further spread of the virus.”

Four soldiers are believed to have had direct contact with the infected peacekeeper, with three testing negative and the fourth awaiting test results.

All four will remain in quarantine for the time being, according to the statement.

Lebanon has been on official lockdown for a week, with nearly all public and private institutions shut, and international land, air and seaports closed.

Read: Turkey to take over medical face mask factories

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