Public Statement
11 December 2001
 AI Index MDE 18/026/2001 - News Service Nr. 218

Amnesty International delegatation concludes mission in Lebanon
Amnesty International's delegation concludes its visit to Lebanon today (11 December).  The delegation was led by the Secretary General, Irene Zubaida Khan.  Other delegates were June Ray, Director of the Middle East Program, Abdel Mitaal Gershab, Middle East Development Coordinator, and Abdel Salam Sidahmed, Researcher in the Middle East Program.

During the visit the delegation was received by President Emile Lahoud.  Amnesty International expressed appreciation of the positive human rights developments in Lebanon and the cooperation of the Lebanese Government and raised outstanding human rights concerns.  These included continuing arbitrary arrests and trials before military courts, the setting up of machinery to investigate allegations of torture or ill-treatment and the use of the death penalty.  The Secretary General said the organization was following closely developments regarding the Commission investigating the cases of the "disappeared" and kidnapped during the years of civil war, as well as the inquiry into the cases of torture or ill-treatment of women highlighted in Amnesty International's report issued in August this year.  Both investigations are due to be completed later this month.  President Lahoud emphasized the importance he placed on the rule of law adding that no one was above the law.  He said that the independence of the judiciary was also of paramount importance.  The President added that Amnesty International was always welcome in Lebanon and that Amnesty International's findings would be taken seriously and investigated.

The Secretary General and accompanying delegation met with victims of human rights violations as well as many Lebanese NGOs working in the field of human rights, including women's rights and paid tribute to their work, stressing the value of working together for greater protection and promotion of human rights.  This, she said, was all the more important at a time when, following the events of 11 September, fundamental human rights are at risk worldwide, whether in Europe and the USA, where "anti-terrorism" legislation threatens the rights of minorities such as asylum seekers and migrant workers, or in Afghanistan where Amnesty International has been calling for the protection of civilians and refugees and an investigation into the killings of prisoners at Qala-I-Jhangi in Mazar-I-Sharif , as well as in the Israeli Occupied Territories, where human rights continue to be sacrificed in the names of security.

The Secretary General visited Amnesty International's Regional Office which opened in Beirut last year and met Amnesty International members in Beirut and Sidon, where she opened a week of human rights awareness activities leading up to human rights day on 10 December.  She also gave a presentation on the death penalty at the University of St Joseph.

This was the first visit to the Middle East by the Secretary General, who assumed her post in August this year.  Irene Khan left Lebanon to join a delegation investigating the situation of Afghan civilians and refugees and to mobilize support for a human rights agenda for Afghanistan.


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Last updated : December 10