UN praises Lebanon for submission of torture report

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United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon Sigrid Kaag Saturday praised Lebanon for submitting its first state report to the Committee Against Torture. “Lebanon’s submission of its first state report to the CAT is an important step towards meeting its human rights obligations," Kaag said in a statement. "Progress in recent months, including the adoption of legislation on the establishment of a National Human Rights Commission gives me hope for further progress." Regional Representative of the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights Abdel Salam Sidahmed echoed similar sentiments. "We are happy with Lebanon’s increased engagement with human rights' international system," Sidahmed said. "We look forward to additional steps for the eradication of Torture in Lebanon in compliance with the provisions under the CAT." Lebanon is party to the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. However, it was fifteen years late in submitting the required report on the implementation of the treaty within its legal code. On April 27, the Committee Against Torture grilled Lebanon in a three-hour session. NGOs and civil society submitted shadow reports to the committee, as well. In an event sponsored by local human rights NGO Alef, Judge Raja Abi Nader of the Prison Administration Directorate said he thought the NGO reports were very important, but that they "need a shadow report for [them as well] because some issues raised in [them] are not true.” “It was troubling that the delegation did not have any statistics as to the number of investigations or prosecutions for torture in Lebanon,” Bassam Khawaja, Human Rights Watch researcher in Lebanon, told The Daily Star. “It was also disappointing to see the Lebanese delegation try to sidestep civil society organizations’ findings of the routine use of torture by security services in Lebanon.” Legislation to establish Lebanon's National Human Rights Commission was passed by Parliament last October, and is scheduled to become operational by June. Its intended purpose is to monitor the human rights situation in Lebanon, release periodic reports, and receive complaints of violations across the country.

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