07 April 2016

With a 15-year delay, Lebanese authorities submit their report to UN Committee against Torture

Lebanon submitted its initial report, overdue since 2001, to the United Nations Committee against Torture (CAT), a body of 10 independent experts, on 9 March 2016. The Convention against Torture (UNCAT) requires that State parties submit an initial report on the measures taken to implement the Convention within one year after its entry into force – 2000 for Lebanon – for the CAT to make comments and issues recommendations.

Alkarama welcomes the submission by Lebanon of its report, despite the 15-year delay due to “extraordinary political, economic, social and security reasons” according to the authorities. The submission of Lebanon’s initial report was among the 34 recommendations made by the CAT in its 2014 Report following a confidential inquiry it conducted in the country following a complaint filed by Alkarama. The report found that torture in Lebanon was "a pervasive practice that is routinely used by armed forces and law enforcement agencies for the purpose of investigation".

A too narrow definition of torture

Lebanon’s report recalls that the amendment of article 401 of the Penal Code defining the crime of torture is still ongoing. However, the proposed amendment defines torture as acts committed during the stage of “initial investigation, judicial investigation and trial”, which excludes this practice outside the framework of detention and when used as a punitive measure, a limitation that is contrary to the Convention. Moreover, the provision provides for a maximum penalty of three years of imprisonment for the crime of torture, a penalty that can hardly be considered  adequate to the offence.

Detainees’ rights still disrespected

Lebanon’s report refers to several measures taken to protect detainees’ rights, such as the respect of the 48 hours custody period, which however is rarely respected in practice, since suspects can remain in custody for several months. Similarly, contrary to what is mentioned by Lebanon, exceptional courts such as the Judicial Council and military courts do not ensure detainee’s rights: it is for example very difficult to appoint a forensic doctor and present forensic evidence of torture before military courts, which rarely open investigations into torture allegations.

Lack of transparency over alleged investigations into torture allegations

Lebanon’s report also mentions several measures taken to investigate torture allegations and punish those responsible such as the establishment of internal committees by the Internal Security Forces (ISF) in 2010 and by the Lebanese Army in 2015, without providing any further information on their activities, how their independence is guaranteed and whether they are accessible to victims. Instead, Lebanon should establish independent complaint mechanisms to adequately address victims’ claims of torture, as recommended in the CAT 2014 report.

Finally, Lebanon’s report affirms that the judicial authorities can and have already opened investigations into allegations of torture, citing as an example the investigations conducted by the Judicial Council on the allegations of torture of Nahr El Bared detainees, as demanded by the CAT in 2014. However, victims and their lawyers have never been informed of such proceedings and the authorities have still not implemented the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention’s Opinion recognising the arbitrary nature of their detention and calling upon their release.

Following Lebanon’s submission of its initial report, the Committee against Torture will then assess the implementation of the Convention and issues recommendations. Lebanon should submit further periodic reports to the CAT every four years. Despite the shortcomings highlighted, Alkarama hopes Lebanon submission of its initial report is an indication of the country’s commitment to engage with the UN experts in order to put an end to the use torture in the country.

For more information or an interview, please contact the media team to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (Dir: +41 22 734 1008).

Lebanon - HR Instruments

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)

ICCPR: Accessed on 03.11.1972
Optional Protocol: No

State report: Overdue since 21.03.2001 (3rd)
Last concluding observations: 05.05.1997

Convention against Torture (CAT)

CAT: Accessed on 05.10.2000
Optional Protocol: Yes
Art. 20 (Confidential inquiry): Yes
Art. 22 (Individual communications): No

State report: Overdue since 03.11.2001 (1st)
Last concluding observations: N/A

International Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearance (CED)

CED: Signed on 06.02.2007

Universal Periodic Review (UPR)

Last review: 11.2010 (1st cycle)
Next review: 2015 (2nd cycle)

National Human Rights Institution (NHRI)