Syrian refugees tortured in Lebanon, Amnesty International report finds

Lebanese military intelligence tortured or otherwise ill-treated Syrian refugees, according to a report by Amnesty International.

The report, published on Tuesday, documented 26 cases where refugees reported being tortured, either during interrogation or detention. These crimes often occurred at Ablah military intelligence centre, the General Security office in Beirut or at the Ministry of Defence.

All 26 detainees were denied access to a lawyer during initial questioning, in violation of Lebanon’s own laws and international law and standards.

Detainees described being beaten with metal sticks, electric cables and plastic pipes as well as being hung upside down or forced into stress positions for prolonged periods of time.

Two of the survivors were aged 15 and 16 at the time. At least four men said they were beaten so badly, they lost consciousness and two had broken teeth.

Detainees said they faced some of the same torture techniques routinely used in Syrian prisons such as the “flying carpet” (being strapped on a foldable board), “shabeh” (when an individual is suspended by wrists and beaten), or “balango”, which involves an individual being suspended for hours with wrists tied behind their backs.

At least 14 of the detainees said they “confessed” to crimes they did not commit after being tortured or threatened.

Bassel, a former Syrian detainee, told the charity, that after his transfer to Rihaniyyeh prison, he was beaten so badly every day for three weeks that his wounds 'festered'.

“They beat us with plastic tubes from the bathroom on our back. My back had open wounds that started becoming really bad. In the end, there were worms inside my wounds,” he said.

Lebanon passed an anti-torture law in 2017 but has consistently failed to implement it, and torture complaints rarely reach court, Amnesty said.

Marie Forestier, Amnesty’s researcher on refugee and migrants right, said: “The Lebanese authorities must immediately implement their own anti-torture law and respect their obligations under international human rights law."

“They must ensure that torture allegations are effectively investigated and that those responsible for these horrendous abuses are held accountable.”

he cases examined also included, a number of Syrian women, detained in relation to their male relatives’ alleged activities, or in order to pressure the male relatives to confess or hand themselves over.

Amnesty called on Lebanese authorities to ensure all Syrian detainees are granted a fair trial that adheres to international standards and to end the practice of trying civilians in military courts.