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Lebanon torturing detained Syrians, Amnesty says

Regular beatings, being strapped to foldable boards and having wrists tied behind their backs are some of the abuses outlined

Amnesty International yesterday accused the Lebanese security forces of torturing detained Syrian refugees, including resorting to "horrific methods of torture" and denying them a "fair trial".

In a report called "I wish I would die", the rights watchdog said it had documented violations against 26 Syrian refugees, including four children, who were arrested between 2014 and 2021, noting that six of them are still in detention.

According to the report, "in all but one of the 26 documented cases… refugees reported being tortured, either during interrogation or detention."

The methods of torture listed in the report included "beatings with metal sticks, electric cables, and plastic pipes, being hung upside down or forced into stress positions for prolonged periods of time."

Amnesty said the violations had been mainly committed by the Lebanese army intelligence, at Ablah military intelligence centre, the General Security office in Beirut, or at the Ministry of Defence, noting that the Lebanese security forces used some of the same horrific torture methods used in Syria's most notorious prisons where tens of thousands of detainees are held.

The report said two of the tortured victims were 15 and 16 years old and they had been "beaten so badly that they lost consciousness".

READ: No human rights progress in Lebanon since 2015, says HRW

The report quoted a detainee as saying that a security agent injured him so badly by beating his genitals that he urinated blood for several days.

Amnesty International said it has also documented the ill-treatment of two women who were sexually harassed and verbally assaulted in detention.

"One was forced to watch as security agents tortured her son and another woman was made to watch her husband being beaten," it added.

Moreover, the detainees were denied a fair trial, where "in many cases, judges relied heavily on confessions extracted under torture".

"In 14 of the cases documented, Amnesty International found that terrorism-related accusations against Syrian refugees were made on discriminatory grounds including political affiliations. In nine cases, simply expressing political opposition to the Syrian government was considered evidence to justify convictions on "terrorism" charges," the report added.

In many cases refugees who escaped war, ruthless repression and widespread torture have found themselves arbitrarily detained and held incommunicado in Lebanon, where they face many of the same horrors employed in Syrian prisons

said Marie Forestier, a researcher on refugee and migrants rights at Amnesty International.

"There is no question that members of armed groups responsible for human rights abuses must be held accountable for their actions, but the Lebanese authorities' flagrant violation of Syrian refugees' right to due process has made a mockery of justice. At every stage, from arrest through to interrogation, detention, and prosecution in unfair trials, the Lebanese authorities have utterly disregarded international human rights law," she added.

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