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LEBANON : To the attention of His Excellency Mr. Ashraf Rifi, Minister of Justice in Lebanon.


To the attention of His Excellency Mr. Ashraf Rifi, Minister of Justice in Lebanon ​

The Euro-Mediterranean Federation against Enforced Disappearances would like to draw the attention of His Excellency on the prosecution for "defamation" brought by Mr. President of the Lebanese Parliament, against Mrs. Marie Daunay and Mr. Wadih Al-Asmar; respectively President and Secretary General of the Lebanese Center for Human Rights (CLDH). This complaint following the publication on February 10, 2011 of a report entitled "Arbitrary detention and torture in Lebanon: The Bitter Reality of Lebanon", we were surprised by the complaint and that it didn’t result in a dismissal from the first public hearing of the trial on March 17 before the Publications Court of Baabda.

The Lebanese Center for Human Rights, a member of the Euro-Mediterranean Federation against Enforced Disappearances (FEMED), the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN) and the World Organization against SOS torture Network (OMCT), has always honored its mission in the promotion and protection of human rights by documenting serious violations of human rights and listing them in various reports and later made public.

To this end, the FEMED recalls that, under Chapter II of Title I of the Lebanese Constitution on "The rights and duties", which sets out in Articles 7 to 15 the obligation of the State to protect a number of fundamental rights of citizens and public freedoms, including freedom of assembly and association;

Whereas that:

The Preamble of the Lebanese Constitution expressly states Lebanon's commitment in terms of respect for the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, the International Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and its Optional Protocol and the Arab Charter on Human Rights;

The Defenders Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998, declares in Article 1: "Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels" and to Article 12.2 : “ The State shall take all measures necessary to ensure that everyone has the protection of the competent authorities, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation or discrimination, de facto or legally, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in this announcement”.

Given that:

  • The Lebanese Publications Act promulgated in 1962 and amended in 1977 in the part relating to censorship and offenses stipulates that the freedom of publication and distribution are guaranteed and can be restricted only under the law and that this restriction can be imposed only in exceptional cases when the country faces an external war, armed insurrection, disorder or situations threatening public order, security or public safety or when disasters occur;
  • Lebanon ratified the Convention against Torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment in 2000, which requires the state agents to respect human rights and prohibits from using excessive force in the exercise of their functions and in this case, the Lebanese Center for Human Rights did nothing more than denouncing these practices in its publication on 10 February 2011 in accordance with fundamental rights and freedoms of Lebanese and international laws;
  • The International treaties of which Lebanon is member are an important part of its international obligations in that measure they have primacy over domestic laws and are required to be applied by the courts in accordance with Article 2 of the “Lebanese Code of criminal procedure”.

Given all of the above and considering that these practices are abusive and consist simply to intimidate human rights defenders in Lebanon, the Euro-Mediterranean Federation against Enforced Disappearances kindly urges His Excellency to:

  1. Putanendtoproceedingsagainstthetwodefendersofhumanrightsintheperformanceoftheir missions; namely Mrs. Marie Daunay and Mr. Wadih Al-Asmar.
  2. Publicly recognize that the Lebanese Center for Human Rights’ publication of 10 February 2011 is not "defamatory".
  3. Take appropriate measures to ensure, in all circumstances, the safety and physical and psychological integrity of Mrs. Marie Daunay and Mr. Wadih Al-Asmar, and those of all Lebanese Center for Human Rights’ members, and the other defenders of human rights in Lebanon.
  4. Respectingandpromotingnationalandinternationallawrelatingtotheprotectionofdefenders of human rights, freedom of association and assembly, freedom of opinion and expression and the right of everyone to information.

Paris, June 9, 2015

Mrs. Nassera Dutour Chairwoman of the FEMED 

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