Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders Annual Report 2004 - Lebanon
|Publisher||International Federation for Human Rights|
|Publication Date||14 April 2005|
|Cite as||International Federation for Human Rights, Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders Annual Report 2004 - Lebanon, 14 April 2005, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48747ca5a8.html [accessed 10 December 2013]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
Infringements to freedom of assembly58
On 7 April 2004, in Beirut, close to 500 people – students, families of detainees, NGO representatives – gathered in response to an initiative by the Committee of the Families of the Lebanese Detainees in Syria and the NGO "Support of Lebanese in Detention and Exile" (Soutien aux Libanais détenus et exilés – SOLIDE).
This gathering intended to support a civil society delegation to the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) headquarters in Beirut, to submit a petition circulated by various student movements and signed by over 10,000 people, demanding the release of Lebanese prisoners in Syria.
The army brutally dispersed participants by spraying them with water canons. Several of them were beaten with truncheons, including elderly members of the detainees' families, such as Mr. Ghazi Aad, head of SOLIDE, whose wheel chair was broken into pieces. At least one of the students had to be taken to the hospital. The delegation was finally not able to meet with Mr. Rawdha, the ESCWA human rights officer, as was initially planned.
Investigation into the questioning of Mrs. Samira Trad59
On 10 September 2003, Mrs. Samira Trad, director of the Frontiers Center, an NGO for the defence of non-Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, received a summons by the General Security office of the Beirut General Directorate. Mrs. Trad was then questioned, inter alia, about the statutes of the Frontiers Center and about a report on Iraqi refugees seeking asylum outside of Lebanon that she circulated for comment to the Embassy of the United States and to the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (HCR) in Beirut in June 2003. She was released on 11 September and later informed that she was accused of "defamation against the authorities" (Article 386 of the Criminal Code) in connection with the aforementioned report.
Mrs. Trad's lawyers subsequently found out that the HCR office in Beirut, had transmitted the report to the General Security office. On 4 February 2004, they demanded the HCR Office of the Inspector General in Geneva to investigate the role played in her arrest by the HCR staff in Beirut.
An enquiry revealed that the Lebanese authorities were in possession of an internal email to the HCR in Beirut, which concerned Mrs. Trad.
In September 2004, the HCR head office in Geneva addressed a letter to the Lebanese authorities expressing concern for the way the document had been obtained and used, adding that the HCR had no complaint against Mrs. Trad and hoped she would be able to freely carry out her activities.
Finally, in September 2004, Mrs. Trad decided to transmit the Frontiers Center statutes to the Ministry of the Interior so that the Center could be registered as an NGO (until then, the Centre was registered as a "private company"). As of end 2004, this request was not acknowledged.
Besides, the HCR investigation was still underway at the end of 2004, and the proceedings for "defamation" against Mrs. Trad were still pending.
Judicial proceedings against Mr. Muhamad Mugraby60
On 8 August 2003, Mr. Muhamad Mugraby, a lawyer at the Bar of Beirut and human rights activist, in particular renowned for his commitment to fighting corruption in Lebanese legal circles, was arrested following a complaint lodged by the Bar of Beirut, accusing him of having made illegal use of his title of lawyer. The Bar notably accused Mr. Mugraby of continuing to practise law whereas two disciplinary commissions had withdrawn this right on 4 April 2002 and on 17 January 2003, following proceedings brought against him for "defamation of judicial power". These decisions, however, were not enforceable, as Mr. Mugraby had appealed against them and that appeal was still under-way. He was released on 29 August 2003, but remained prosecuted for "defamation of judicial power" under Article 111 of the Code for the organisation of the profession of lawyers (COPL) and Articles 391 and 393 of the Criminal Code. Mr. Mughraby, who in addition was debarred, appealed the verdict with the Supreme Court.
On 10 March 2004, the third chamber of the Supreme Court of Appeals ruled in Mr. Mughraby' favour and moreover dismissed the two decisions of the disciplinary commissions (April 2002 and January 2003), arguing the merits of the accusation under the Article 111 of the COPL. However, Mr. Mugraby remained liable of being further accused on the grounds of Articles 391 and 393 of the Criminal Code.
On 15 April 2004, he took legal action against thirteen judges involved in his arrest in August 2003. As at the end of 2004, the proceedings were ongoing.
Finally, on 22 May 2004, Mr. Mughraby also introduced legal proceedings against the Bar Association and its former head, who initiated the complaint which led to his arrest in 2003. By the end of 2004, this file had still not be registered.
[Refworld note: This report as posted on the FIDH website (www.fidh.org) was in pdf format with country chapters run together by region. Footnote numbers have been retained here, so do not necessarily begin at 1.]
58. See Press Release, 8 April 2004.
59. See Annual Report 2003.