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Rights group slams official Lebanese response to Tripoli protests

Lebanese people protest against coronavirus (Covid-19) lockdown in Tripoli, Lebanon on January 27, 2021 [Houssam Shbaro/Anadolu Agency]
Lebanese people protest against coronavirus (Covid-19) lockdown in Tripoli, Lebanon on January 27, 2021 [Houssam Shbaro/Anadolu Agency]

Human Rights Watch criticised the Lebanese authorities on Tuesday for their response to protesters in the northern city of Tripoli at the end of January.

"Lebanese military intelligence agents forcibly disappeared and allegedly tortured detainees who were participating in protests against the Covid-19 lockdown and deteriorating economic conditions in Tripoli," said the rights watchdog. "These individuals face apparently unsubstantiated terrorism charges before the country's military courts, which are inherently unfair, and under international law should not have jurisdiction over civilians."

HRW said that in February, the country's military prosecutor charged 35 people, including at least two children, with terrorism, forming criminal associations, and stealing public property during protests in Tripoli in the last week of January.

"The Lebanese authorities should address the legitimate grievances of people in Tripoli but instead they've escalated repression against a population fighting for a dignified life," explained Aya Majzoub, a researcher at HRW. "The government needs to answer for disappearances and any torture of detainees and drop all unsubstantiated terrorism charges against them."

READ: Security forces dealt properly with Tripoli protests in Lebanon

HRW said that the Lebanese army did not respond to its request for a comment on these accusations.

On 4 February, the Tripoli Bar Association submitted a complaint to the Cassation Public Prosecution regarding the crimes of enforced disappearance, arbitrary deprivation of liberty, and violations of the Code of Criminal Procedure and Articles 47 and 32 during the arrest of the protesters.

Lebanon is one long tale of disaster and crisis - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

Lebanon is one long tale of disaster and crisis – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

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