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Lebanon accused of 'shocking' torture of detained Syrian refugees

Prisoners and detainees were beaten with metal poles, electric cables, and plastic pipes, says Amnesty International
Police officers stand guard outside a detention centre outside Beirut
Police officers stand guard outside a detention centre from which prisoners had fled in Baabda, east of Lebanon's capital, Beirut (AFP)

Torture and abuse of Syrians in Lebanese detention is widespread and "shocking", according to a new report from Amnesty International.

Syrian refugees arbitrarily arrested in Lebanon were subject to "atrocious torture techniques", similar to those used in Syrian government jails, the human rights organisation said.

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

The 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.

“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.

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

Amnesty said the abuse against the detainees mostly took place at a military intelligence centre in east Lebanon's Ablah district, the General Security bureau in Beirut or at the defence ministry.

At least 14 said they confessed to crimes they had not committed after being tortured or threatened.

The arrests started in 2014 after the Islamic State (IS) group and then-Al-Qaeda affiliate, Al-Nusra Front, kidnapped a number of Lebanese soldiers and police in a raid on the border town of Arsal.

The civil war in Syria, which erupted in 2011, has led to hundreds of thousands of refugees pouring into Lebanon, leading to a rise in both economic and social tensions in the country.