Lebanon: Ongoing judicial harassment against members of the Lebanese Centre for Human Rights (CLDH), Ms. Marie Daunay and Mr. Wadih Al-Asmar

15/12/2015
Urgent Appeal

New information
LBN 001 / 0311 / OBS 036.2
Ongoing judicial harassment
Lebanon
December 15, 2015

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), has received new information and requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Lebanon.

New information:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the ongoing judicial harassment against Ms. Marie Daunay and Mr. Wadih Al-Asmar, respectively President and Secretary General ofthe Lebanese Centre for Human Rights (Centre libanais des droits humains – CLDH).

According to the information received, on December 17, 2015, Ms. Marie Daunay and Mr. Wadih Al-Asmar will appear before the Publication Court for the second public session of the criminal case for which they could face up to one year in jail or a fine.

The case, which started in March 2011 (see background information), is based on a complaint filed by the Amal Movement, a political party headed by Mr. Nabih Berri, President of the Lebanese Parliament,against CLDH, following the publication on February 10, 2011 of a report entitled “Arbitrary Detention and Torture: the bitter reality of Lebanon” [1] that denounced alleged practices of torture in Lebanon. The report also mentions testimonies of arrests by Amal Movement members.

The Observatory strongly condemns the judicial harassment against Ms. Marie Daunay and Mr. Wadih Al-Asmar, which only aims at sanctioning their legitimate human rights activities and calls on the authorities to drop all charges held against them, and put an immediate end to this judicial harassment.

Background information:

On March 14, 2011, Ms. Marie Daunay and Mr. Wadih Al-Asmar were notified that they were requested to present themselves to the criminal investigation service at the Ministry of Justice in Beirut on March 17, 2011 at 10 a.m. The summons was then postponed to March 22, 2011. During the interrogation, the two CLDH representatives were not allowed to be assisted by a lawyer, and used their right to remain silent, guaranteed notably by Article 47 of the Criminal Procedure Code.

A hearing of CLDH representatives took place on July 6, 2011 before the Baabda Court, and was postponed to give CLDH representatives sufficient time to appoint a lawyer.

On October 11, 2011, hearings of the two CLDH representatives started before the Investigating judge at the Baadba Court which concluded to the referral of the matter to the Publication Court.

On February 24, 2014, the Investigating judge at the Baadba Court indicted both Ms. Marie Daunay and Mr. Wadih Al-Asmar with “defamation”.

On March 17, 2015, the two CLDH representatives appeared for a first public session before the Publication Court, presided by Judge Elias Khoury.

The judgment was supposed to be rendered on June 11, 2015.

Actions requested:

Please write to the Lebanese authorities urging them to:

i.Put an end to any acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Ms. Marie Daunay and Mr. Wadih Al-Asmar, and more generally against all human rights defenders in Lebanon;

ii.Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Ms. Marie Daunay and Mr. Wadih Al-Asmar, other representatives of CLDH, as well as of all human rights defenders in Lebanon;

iii.Conform with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, especially:

- its Article 1, which states that “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”,

- its Article 6 (b) and (c), which states that “Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others […] as provided for in human rights and other applicable international instruments, freely to publish, impart or disseminate to others views, information and knowledge on all human rights and fundamental freedoms and [...] to study, discuss, form and hold opinions on the observance, both in law and in practice, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms and, through these and other appropriate means, to draw public attention to those matters”;

- its Article 12.2, which provides that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”;

iv.More generally, ensure in all circumstances the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Lebanon.

Addresses:

·Mr. Tammam Salam, Prime Minister, Grand Serail, Beirut, Lebanon. Fax: + 961 (0)1-983060
·Ashraf Rifi, Minister of Justice, Ministry of Justice, Adlieh, Beirut, Lebanon. Fax: +961 (0)1-612564
·Mr. Nouhad Machnouk, Minister of Interior, Ministry of Interior, Sanayeh, Beirut, Lebanon. Fax: +961 (0)1-751622
·Permanent Mission of Lebanonto the United Nations in Geneva, rue de Moillebeau 58, 1209 Geneva, Switzerland. E-mail: mission.lebanon@ties.itu.int, Fax : +41 22 791 85 80
·Embassy of Lebanon in Brussels, rue G. Stocq, 2 1050 Brussels, Belgium. E-mail: ambassade.liban@brutele.be, Fax: +32 2.645.77.69

Please also write to the diplomatic mission or embassy of Lebanon in your respective countries.

Paris-Geneva, December 15, 2015

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory, a FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to the protection of Human Rights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
· E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
· Tel and fax FIDH + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80
· Tel and fax OMCT + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29
Read more