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Lebanon opens probe into allegations of torture of Syrian refugees

Probe comes after dozens of Syrian refugees recounted allegations of 'cruel and abusive' treatment in Amnesty International report
Amnesty International blamed Lebanon's military intelligence bureau for much of the torture recounted in its report (AFP/File photo)

Lebanon's prosecutor general has ordered a probe into the alleged torture of more than 20 Syrians in custody following a report by Amnesty International, state media reported.

Ghassan Oueidat announced the launch of the probe on Monday in response to the Amnesty report, which accused Lebanese authorities of "cruel and abusive" treatment and torture of Syrians that had been imprisoned or interrogated.

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In the report, the rights group blamed in particular Lebanon's military intelligence bureau and said the abuse was mostly at a military intelligence centre in east Lebanon's Ablah district, the general security bureau in Beirut or at the defence ministry.

Oueidat called on the government representative at the military court to "open an investigation into claims made by Amnesty International concerning the arrest and torture of Syrian refugees held over terrorism-related charges", the official National News Agency reported.

The report, titled, "I wish I would die": Syrian refugees detained on terrorism-related charges and tortured in Lebanon, documented the testimonies of 26 Syrian refugees - including four children and two women - detained or imprisoned in Lebanon on terrorism-related charges between 2014 and 2021.

Those detained on terrorism-related charges told Amnesty that the accusations were made on discriminatory grounds, including political affiliation.

Beatings and stress positions

According to the report, detainees were subjected to beatings with metal poles, electric cables and plastic pipes, as well as being hung upside down and held in stress positions for long periods of time.

Marie Forestier, researcher on refugee and migrants' rights at Amnesty International, said the treatment of the refugees was "cruel, abusive and discriminatory" and included numerous fair trial violations.

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“There is no question that members of armed groups responsible for human rights abuses must be held accountable for their actions, but the Lebanese authorities' flagrant violation of Syrian refugees' right to due process has made a mockery of justice," she said in a statement.

"At every stage, from arrest through to interrogation, detention and prosecution in unfair trials, the Lebanese authorities have utterly disregarded international human rights law."

Lebanon says it hosts 1.5 million Syrians - nearly a million of whom are registered as refugees with the United Nations.

Nine out of ten Syrians in Lebanon live in extreme poverty, the UN says. 

Lebanese authorities have systematically pressured Syrians to return even though rights groups warn Syria is not yet safe.