Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture concludes mission to Lebanon, 2 June 2010

2 June 2010

The United Nations Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT) has concluded its visit to Lebanon, which took place from 24 May to 2 June 2010. This was the ninth visit conducted by the SPT. Lebanon ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT) on 22 December 2008.

The following SPT Members were part of the delegation that visited Lebanon:

  • Mr. Hans Draminsky Petersen (head of the delegation)
  • Mr. Malcolm Evans
  • Mr. Emilio Ginés
  • Mr. Miguel Sarre

The delegation was supported by three OHCHR staff members (from Headquarters in Geneva), acting as the SPT’s Secretariat, and a United Nations security officer. It benefited from the support of the United Nations system in Lebanon, in particular the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights – Regional office for the Middle-East.

During the visit the SPT delegation held meetings with relevant official authorities, including the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Interior, the Minister of Justice, the Commander General of the Armed Forces, the Director General of the Internal Security Forces, the Director General of the General Security, the General Prosecutor as well as the Chair and other members of the Parliamentary Human Rights Committee. The SPT delegation also met with representatives of non-governmental organizations and other members of civil society.

The SPT has a mandate to visit all States Parties and make recommendations to the authorities to establish effective safeguards against the risk of torture and ill-treatment. It is complemented at the national level by National Preventive Mechanisms (NPM), which States Parties have undertaken to create one year after the entry in force of OPCAT. During the visit, the SPT met with various interlocutors in relation with the creation of an NPM in Lebanon.

The SPT also reviewed the treatment of persons deprived of their liberty in Lebanon, and the safeguards for their protection against torture and ill-treatment. It conducted private interviews with detainees in various police establishments and inmates in civil and military prisons. The SPT also visited and conducted interviews in other places where persons are or may be deprived of their liberty.

At the end of the visit, the delegation presented its confidential preliminary observations to the authorities of Lebanon.

The SPT has two guiding principles - cooperation and confidentiality - which lie at the heart of the OPCAT. The preventive approach aims at protecting people deprived of their liberty. As provided for under the OPCAT, the SPT communicates its recommendations and observations confidentially to the State Party. The SPT was established according to the OPCAT, which entered in force on 22 June 2006.  The treaty is the first universal instrument which seeks to prevent torture and other forms of ill-treatment through a system of regular visits to places of deprivation of liberty carried out by independent national and international bodies.

Places of deprivation of liberty visited by the SPT

The delegation visited five civil prisons:

In Beirut:

  • Roumieh prison
  • Barbar el Khazen (for female prisoners)

In North Lebanon

  • Tripoli prisons (one for female and on for male prisoners)

In Beqaa province:

  • Zahleh prison (for male prisoners)

In South Lebanon:

  • Nabatiyeh prison

The delegation visited two military prisons/ detention centres:

  • Detention Centre of the Ministry of Defence in Yarze, Beirut
  • Military police prison in Rihanieh, Beirut

The delegation visited one administrative retention centre:

  • General Security Department’s Detention centre (under the General Security/Ministry of Interior) in Adlieh, Beirut

The delegation visited 6 police stations:

In Beirut:

  • ISF Intelligence Detention centre in Achrafieh

In Mount Lebanon

  • Jounieh police station

In North province:

  • Al Mina (Tripoli) police station

In South Lebanon:

  • Nabatiyeh police station

In Beqaa province

  • Drug Bureau offices in Zahle

The delegation visited 3 Detention Centres in Palais de Justice:

In South Lebanon:                                                          

  • Detention Centre of the Palais de Justice in Nabatiyeh

In Beqaa province

  • Detention Centre of the Palais de Justice in Zahleh

In North province

  • Detention Centre of the Palais de Justice in Tripoli