Target: Maura Connelly, United States Ambassador to Lebanon
Goal: Rectify issues of continuing abuse in United States-funded police units in Lebanon or permanently cease future funding
A recently released report brings to light the Lebanese Internal Security Forces’ abusive treatment of prisoners from vulnerable groups. These groups include drug users, sex workers, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals. The report was based on more than fifty interviews, conducted over a span of five years, with those who had been held for suspected drug use, sex work, or homosexuality.
Over the past few years, the United States, European Union, United Kingdom, and France have donated money to the Lebanese Security Forces with the intent to reform, train, and better equip them. However, despite a new Code of Conduct and behavior standards, the mistreatment and abuse of prisoners continue. In addition, there is no effective complaint and reporting system for those who are mistreated. The committee meant to oversee these human rights issues is grossly understaffed, and the judiciary often ignores complaints regarding prisoner abuse.
Typical forms of abuse include beating with fists, boots, or other objects; denying prisoners food, water, or medication; leaving prisoners handcuffed for hours; and forcing prisoners into uncomfortable positions for long periods of time. Women who were arrested for suspected drug use or sex work were raped or offered incentives in exchange for sex. These incentives included cigarettes, food, and more favorable police reports. Some prisoners were denied phone calls, necessary medical care, and access to lawyers.
Although the United States government has tried to better the Lebanese police by offering financial support and resources, the mentality of police units has failed to change, and accountability systems are ineffective. Therefore, the abuse and mistreatment of prisoners has continued. Suspects are often tortured in order to extract confessions, which are more highly valued than other forms of evidence. In order for the Lebanese Security Forces to change and uphold the new behavior standards, the United States government needs to adopt a greater role in monitoring and training. If this is not possible, then all government aid and support to the Lebanese Security Forces must be ceased.
By signing the petition below, you will urge the United States government to rectify these issues and cease all funding to remaining abusive Lebanese police units.
The United States government strives to cultivate positive and lasting international relationships. This, along with the purpose of strengthening Lebanon borders against civil war and illegal arms smuggling, was no doubt the driving force behind the large financial support granted to the country. These are commendable goals, and the desire to help the Lebanese Security Forces is honorable.
However, despite reform efforts, revised policies, and new human rights committees, there continue to be instances of abuse, torture, and mistreatment of prisoners while in police custody. If these issues are left unaddressed, then the aid given to the Lebanese Security Forces will have failed to improve the country. We urge you and the United States government to examine and rectify these continuing issues. If they are unable to be resolved, then we urge you to discontinue all support to Lebanon.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Zscout370 via Wikimedia Commons