Amnesty International Report 2006
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
EDITOR'S NOTE: The following are excerpts from the Amnesty International Report 2006 on the state of human rights around the world. Below are the report's findings concerning Syria, Lebanon and Egypt. Thursday's edition of The Daily Star will contain the findings pertaining to the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Iraq.
LEBANON: Lack of rights persists in climate poisoned by assassinations
Former Premier Rafik Hariri and more than 30 other people were killed in bomb attacks against civilians. A UN inquiry suggested that senior Lebanese and Syrian officials were implicated in the attack on Hariri. Several people were arrested for their alleged connections with a banned political party. Tens of prisoners, including some sentenced after unfair trials in previous years, were freed under an amnesty law in July. Palestinian refugees resident in Lebanon continued to face discrimination and to be denied access to adequate housing and certain categories of employment. The law continued to discriminate against women. Protection against violence in the home was inadequate; women migrants employed as domestic workers were particularly at risk of abuse. Mass graves were exhumed in November and December.
Assassination of Rafik Hariri
Hariri and 22 others were killed by a car bomb in Beirut on February 14. Hariri's murder sparked popular protests and the government resigned after losing a confidence vote in Parliament in February. Subsequent elections, held between May 29 and June 19, were won by the Future Movement Block led by Saad Hariri, son of the assassinated former prime minister.
Speculation that the Syrian authorities were involved in the assassination prompted new demands from within Lebanon and internationally for Syria to withdraw its military forces from Lebanon, in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 1559 of September 2004. In May the UN confirmed that Syria had withdrawn its forces from Lebanon.
UN investigation The UN Security Council sent a fact-finding team, with the agreement of the Lebanese government, to investigate the killings. The team's findings led the UN Security Council to establish the UN International Independent Investigation Commission (UNIIIC).
Four former heads of Lebanese intelligence and security services - General Ali al-Hajj (Internal Security Forces), General Raymond Azar (Military Intelligence), Brigadier General Jamil al-Sayyed (General Security) and Mustafa Hamdan (Presidential Guard) - were arrested on August 30 and remained in detention at the end of the year. An interim report by UNIIIC published in October implicated senior officials of both the Lebanese and Syrian security services in the assassination and a fifth former Lebanese security official, Ghassan Tufeili, was arrested in November after he was named in the report. On December 15, a second UNIIIC report requested that Syria detain several suspects. It also stated that Syria had hindered the investigation and that further investigation was necessary. On December 15 the UN Security Council endorsed a six-month extension of the investigation, but did not vote on the Lebanese authorities' request to establish an international court to try suspects in the case.
Other politically motivated killings
Rafik Hariri's assassination was followed by 13 other bombings of civilian targets in which 12 people were killed and at least 100 injured. Among those targeted were critics of Syria's military presence in Lebanon.
l Samir Kassir, an academic, journalist and well-known critic of human rights abuses by the Lebanese and Syrian governments, was killed by a car bomb on June 2 in Beirut.
l George Hawi, former leader of the Lebanese Communist Party, was killed
by a car bomb in Beirut on June 21.
l Gebran Tueni, a journalist and politician known for his criticism of Syrian interference in Lebanon, was killed with two others in a car bomb blast in Beirut on December 12.
In November, six Lebanese men were reported to have been charged with mounting attacks at the behest of a Syrian intelligence officer who had been based in Beirut. They had not been brought to trial by the end of 2005.
Earlier, tens of Syrian nationals working in Lebanon were reported to have been killed and others injured in attacks by Lebanese, apparently in reaction to Hariri's assassination; it was not clear whether there was an investigation or any prosecutions.
A new joint Syrian-Lebanese committee was established in May to investigate the fate of more than 600 Lebanese who "disappeared" during and after the 1975-1990 Lebanese civil war, apparently while in the custody of Syrian forces. The findings of two previous Lebanese investigations were never fully disclosed and no perpetrators were ever prosecuted. Concerns about the new committee's independence and powers suggested that it would be no more effective.
A mass grave inside the Lebanese Defense Ministry compound at Yarze, reportedly containing 20 bodies, was discovered in November. Another mass grave, reportedly containing 28 bodies, was exhumed in December at Anjar, in the Bekaa Valley, near the former Syrian military intelligence headquarters in Lebanon. During and after the Lebanese civil war, mass human rights abuses were committed with impunity. Abuses including killings of civilians; abductions and "disappearances" of Lebanese, Palestinian and foreign nationals; and arbitrary detentions were carried out by various armed militias and Syrian and Israeli government forces. In 1992 the Lebanese government said a total of 17,415 people "disappeared" during the 1975-90 Civil War, but no criminal investigations or prosecutions had been initiated by the end of 2005.
Arrests and releases
Samir Geagea and Gerges Khoury, respectively the leader and a member of the Lebanese Forces, were freed under an amnesty law approved by Parliament in July. Both were serving life sentences, imposed after unfair trials, for their alleged involvement in politically motivated killings. They had been held in solitary confinement since 1994 at the Defense Ministry Detention Center in Beirut.
The amnesty law also resulted in the release of at least 25 men detained for several years following violent clashes with Lebanese army troops in 2000 in the northern Dinniyeh area. They had been charged with involvement in "terrorism" and other security offenses. At the time of their release they were on trial before the Justice Council in proceedings that did not meet international standards. Some said they had been tortured and coerced into making false confessions.
Ten detainees from Majdel Anjar arrested in September 2004 were also released in the amnesty. Several of the men, who had not been charged or tried, were reported to have been tortured.
The authorities arrested 15 people in September for their alleged involvement with Hizb al-Tahrir (Islamic Liberation Party). All were released. Three - Sherif al-Halaq, Mohammad al-Tayesh and Bassam al-Munla - were convicted of membership of a banned organization and were awaiting sentencing at the end of the year.
Conditions in prisons and detention centers
Authorities continued to refuse the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) unfettered access to all prisons despite a presidential decree in 2002 authorizing such access for the ICRC. There was particular concern about lack of ICRC access to centers operated by the Defense Ministry where detainees have been tortured and ill-treated.
Human rights defenders
Many human rights groups operated freely but some human rights defenders were harassed or faced threats to their lives.
l Mohammad Mugraby, a lawyer and human rights defender, was detained for 10 hours in February. He was later charged with "slander of the military establishment" for criticizing Lebanon's military court system in a speech to the Mashrek Committee of the European Parliament in November 2003. He was due to appear before the Military Court in Beirut in January 2006.
According to the UN, some 400,000 Palestinian refugees were resident in Lebanon. They remained subject to wide-ranging restrictions on access to housing, work and rights at work despite the Labor Minister's decision in June to allow Palestinian refugees to work in some sectors that had previously been barred to them by law. However, Palestinian refugees continued to be excluded from the medical, legal and other professions regulated by professional syndicates.
Discrimination and violence against women
Women continued to be discriminated against and inadequately protected from violence in the family. Discriminatory practices were permitted under personal status laws, nationality laws and laws contained in the Penal Code relating to violence in the family.
In July, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women recommended that Lebanon withdraw its reservations to Articles 9 and 16 of the UN Women's Convention concerning nationality and marriage rights and address inequalities which allow children to obtain Lebanese nationality only through their father and permit only men to divorce their spouse.
Women migrants employed as domestic workers faced multiple discrimination on grounds of their nationality, gender and economic and legal status. Their contracts effectively restricted exercise of their rights to freedom of movement and association by forbidding them from changing employers. They also faced exploitation and abuse by employers, including excessive hours of work and non-payment of wages. Hundreds were reported to have suffered physical and sexual abuse at the hands of employers.
The UN Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons drew attention to the plight of migrant domestic workers during a visit to Lebanon in September, stating they were denied basic human rights and were inadequately protected by law. The Labor Minister said new legislation to improve conditions for migrant workers would be proposed by October 2005. However, no progress appeared to have been made on this by the end of the year.
AI country visits
AI delegates visited Lebanon several times during 2005.
SYRIA: scores arrested for political reasons
Freedom of expression and association remained severely restricted. Scores of people were arrested and hundreds remained imprisoned for political reasons, including prisoners of conscience and others sentenced after unfair trials. However, about 500 political prisoners were released under two amnesties. Torture and ill-treatment were common. Human rights defenders continued to face harassment. Women and members of the Kurdish minority continued to face discrimination.
Syria became increasingly isolated after the assassination of former Lebanese Premier Rafik Hariri in Beirut on February 14. In May the UN confirmed that Syria had withdrawn its forces from Lebanon. The state of emergency imposed in 1962 remained in force. The Association Agreement between Syria and the EU, which was initialed in October 2004 and contains a human rights clause, remained frozen at the final approval stage.
Releases of political prisoners
Up to 312 political prisoners, including prisoners of conscience, were ordered ... released on March 30 under a presidential amnesty. Most were Kurds ... detained following violent disturbances ... in March 2004. Some 190 political prisoners, including prisoners of conscience, were released under a presidential amnesty on November 2.
They included: Abdel-Aziz al-Khayyir, arrested in February 1992 and sentenced after an unfair trial before the Supreme State Security Court (SSSC) in August 1995 to 22 years imprisonment for membership of the Party for Communist Action; Haythem al-Hamwi, Mohammad Shehada, Yahya Shurbajee and Muatez Murad, community activists from Darya arrested in May 2003 and sentenced to between three and four years ... after unfair trials before Field Military Courts; and Musab al-Hariri, who was arrested on 24 July 2002, aged 14 or 15, shortly after he and his mother returned to Syria after living in exile in Saudi Arabia. Musab al-Hariri had been sentenced by the SSSC on 19 June 2005 to six years ... for alleged membership of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Imprisonment for political reasons
Scores of people were arrested ... for political reasons, including tens of prisoners of conscience. At least several hundred people, including prisoners of conscience, remained imprisoned for political reasons. Scores were brought to trial before the SSSC and Military Courts, all of which suffer from a gross lack of independence and impartiality. Many of those facing trial were suspected members or affiliates of banned political parties ...
Prisoners of conscience included:
l Six men, who were arrested in 2001 and sentenced to up to 10 years imprisonment after unfair trials in 2002 for their involvement in the "Damascus Spring" pro-reform movement, remained in prison.
l Former "Damascus Spring" detainee Kamal al-Labwani, who was released in September 2004 after three years ... , was rearrested on November 8, upon arrival in Damascus after several months in Europe and the US. Charges against him, which related to his peaceful activities promoting democracy and human rights, included "weakening national morale," "inciting strife" and "belonging to a secret organization."
l Ali al-Abdullah was arrested on May 15, a week after he read a statement on behalf of the exiled Muslim Brotherhood leader at the unauthorized Jamal al-Atassi Forum. The Forum was then closed down by the authorities. He was charged with "promoting an illegal organization." He was released under the presidential amnesty on November 2.
l Riad Drar was arrested on June 4, after he made a speech at the funeral of Islamic scholar Sheikh Mohammad Mashuq al-Khiznawi. He faced charges before the SSSC of "inciting sectarian strife," a charge commonly used against people promoting the rights of Syrian Kurds. He remained held in solitary confinement.
"War on terror" detentions and torture
Scores of Syrians remained in detention and were being tried before the SSSC for alleged membership of a Salafi Islamist organization and for alleged plans to carry out acts of terrorism, including in Iraq. The detainees included 16 men from Al-Otaybe, who were arrested in April 2004, and 24 men from Qatana, aged between 17 and 25, who were arrested in July 2004.
They were reportedly tortured and ill-treated during long periods of incommunicado detention. There were widespread concerns that the arrests and trials were attempts by the authorities to portray the country as under threat from terrorism.
According to unconfirmed media reports emanating from government sources, in 2005 the Syrian authorities arrested up to 1,500 people allegedly seeking to fight alongside anti-US forces in Iraq. Many were reportedly returned to their country of origin. Saudi Arabian media and human rights activists stated from July that Saudi nationals had been detained and tortured in Syria, from October 2003, before being returned to Saudi Arabia.
l Pregnant sisters Heba al-Khaled, 17, and Rola al-Khaled, 20, and Nadia al-Satour and her baby, were arrested on September 3, and held hostage by the authorities to put pressure on their husbands, alleged Islamist militants, to give themselves up. They were first detained in the town of Hama, then transferred to the Palestine Branch of Military Intelligence in Damascus where they remained at the end of the year.
l Mohammad Haydar Zammar, a German national of Syrian origin, remained detained incommunicado, at an unknown location and without charge, for a fourth year, apparently on account of alleged links to Al-Qaeda. The US security forces were reportedly involved in his arrest and interrogation in Morocco in 2001, and in his secret transfer to Syria one or two weeks later. He was reportedly interrogated in Syria in November 2002 by agents of German intelligence and criminal investigation agencies.
In August and October, information was released during an inquiry in Canada on the actions of Canadian officials in relation to Syrian/Canadian national Maher Arar. It indicated that, like him, at least three other Canadian nationals of Arab origin had been detained, interrogated and tortured in Syria in previous years with the possible complicity or involvement of Canadian and other foreign intelligence agencies. All three claimed they were forced to sign statements without being permitted to read them. They were:
l Ahmad Abu al-Maati was detained for 11 weeks after he arrived in Syria on November 12, 2001. He alleged that during this time he was beaten with electric cables, burned with cigarettes and had ice-cold water poured over him. He was then transferred to Egypt where he suffered further torture.
l Abdullah Almalki said he was beaten on the soles of his feet, hung in a tire and beaten, and suspended by his hands from a metal frame and beaten while detained at the Palestine Branch of Military Intelligence in Damascus for 22 months from May 2002.
l Muayyed Nureddin said he was beaten repeatedly on the soles of his feet with a cable and had cold water poured on him while detained in Syria from December 11, 2003 to January 13, 2004.
Human rights defenders under threat
Syrian human rights defenders became increasingly active, but faced arrest and harassment. Several unauthorized human rights organizations were operating. At least 10 human rights defenders were forbidden from traveling outside the country.
l Nizar Ristnawi, a founding member of the unauthorized Arab Organization for Human Rights-Syria (AOHR-S), was arrested on April 18. He remained in detention on unknown charges at the end of the year.
l Mohammad Radun, head of the AOHR-S, was arrested on May 22 in connection with statements he had made about human rights in Syria. He was charged with "spreading false news" and "involvement in an illegal organization of an international nature." He was released under a presidential amnesty on November 2.
The government provided no information about thousands of Syrians, Lebanese and other nationals who "disappeared" in the custody of Syrian forces in previous years. These included some 17,000 people, mostly Islamists who "disappeared" after they were detained in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and hundreds of Lebanese and Palestinians who were detained in Syria or abducted from Lebanon by Syrian forces or Lebanese and Palestinian militias. In September, however, the government named one judge and two generals as its representatives on a joint Syrian-Lebanese committee intended to address the "disappearances" issue. Local human rights groups welcomed this but questioned the lack of independence and the limited powers of the committee.
Torture and ill-treatment
Torture and ill-treatment of political and criminal detainees continued to be widely reported, particularly during incommunicado, pre-trial detention. At least two deaths as a result of such treatment were reported.
l Ahmad Ali al-Masalma, a Muslim Brotherhood member, died at the end of March, two weeks after he was released from four weeks in detention. He was arrested on his return from 26 years' exile in Saudi Arabia. He was allegedly tortured in detention and denied essential medication.
l Sheikh Mohammad Mashuq al-Khiznawi, an Islamic religious leader and outspoken figure [in] the Kurdish community, died on May 30, 20 days after he "disappeared," apparently in the custody of Military Intelligence agents. His nose and teeth were broken and there was a wound on his forehead.
l Seraj Khalbous became seriously ill probably as a result of torture while detained incommunicado in September at Al-Mezze and Al-Fayha Political Security Branches in Damascus. He was beaten, stamped on, struck with large sticks, threatened with anal rape, subjected to extreme cold, sleep deprivation and humiliation, and witnessed others being tortured with electric shocks. He was released on October 25.
Most allegations of torture were not investigated. However, in June it was reported that two senior officials at the Madan Court building in Raqqa were each sentenced to two months in prison for torturing Amna al-Allush in March 2002 to force her to "confess" to a murder. Despite this, Amna al-Allush continued serving the 12-year prison sentence she received in April 2004.
Discrimination against Kurds
Syrian Kurds continued to suffer from identity-based discrimination, including restrictions on the use of the Kurdish language and culture. Tens of thousands of Syrian Kurds remained effectively stateless. As a result, they were denied full access to education, employment, health and other rights enjoyed by Syrian nationals, as well as the right to have a nationality and passport. In June, at its first meeting for 10 years, the ruling Baath Party Congress ordered a review of a 1962 census which could result in stateless Kurds obtaining Syrian citizenship.
EGYPT: Torture continues to be systematic
Ninety people were killed and more than 100 injured in bomb attacks in Cairo in April and Sharm el-Sheikh in July. Scores ... were arrested in connection with the attacks and at least 14 people, including several police officers, were killed in shoot-outs between police and alleged suspects. Peaceful demonstrations calling for political reform were violently dispersed. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) continued to operate under a restrictive law introduced in 2002. Hundreds of members of the banned Muslim Brotherhood ... were arrested; scores of them remained held awaiting trial at the end of the year. Thousands of suspected supporters of banned Islamist groups ... remained in detention without charge or trial; some had been held for years. Torture and ill-treatment in detention continued to be systematic. Deaths in custody were reported. In the majority of torture cases, the perpetrators were not brought to justice. At least two people were sentenced to death; no executions were known to have taken place.
The state of emergency imposed in 1981 remained in force despite calls by human rights groups and others for it to be lifted.
President Hosni Mubarak began a fifth term ... following an election in September, when for the first time other candidates were allowed to stand against him after the government amended ... the Constitution. The amendment was first proposed by Mubarak in February and then approved by a national referendum in May, which some opposition parties sought to boycott. Nine candidates stood against the president in September, but he was returned by a large margin. There were some allegations of electoral fraud. In December Ayman Nour, leader of the Al-Ghad Party who came second in the election with less than 10 percent ... was prosecuted and jailed for five years, allegedly for fraudulently obtaining signatures to support his application to legalize his party ...
Elections for a new Parliament were held ... in November and December. They were marred by serious irregularities and by violence, including police shootings of voters, which left at least 11 dead and many others injured. Many supporters of candidates associated with the Muslim Brotherhood were detained by police, and many others were violently attacked by supporters of the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) who were allowed to act with impunity. While the NDP kept its majority in Parliament, the Muslim Brotherhood won 88 seats, six times more than ... in the previous Parliament.
Egypt's government-sponsored National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) issued its first report in April, covering February 2004 to February 2005. It called for the abolition of the state of emergency, drew attention to continuing human rights violations, notably torture and ill-treatment, and made a number of recommendations.
In September, the European Union and Egypt began negotiating an Action Plan for Egypt within the framework of the European Neighborhood Policy. Twenty-five Egyptian NGOs called for a stronger human rights agenda to be considered during negotiations.
Rights violations in the "war on terror"
New information emerged about Egypt's role in ... the "war on terror." While visiting the US in May, Prime Minister Ahmad Nazif stated that more than 60 people had been forcibly transferred to Egypt by US forces since September 2001. However, no Egyptian or US officials provided further details of the individuals concerned or their fate. In addition, the Egyptian authorities continued actively to seek the forcible return of alleged members of Islamist groups from abroad.
Scores of people detained following the bomb attacks on civilians at Taba and Nuweiba in October 2004 were released during 2005, but more than 100 others were still detained at the end of the year, many of them apparently held under administrative detention powers. Many of those released alleged that they had been tortured in detention.
l Ahmad Abdullah Raba, who was arrested in November 2004 ... was detained without charge for three and a half months, mostly without contact with his relatives or a lawyer. For most of that time, he was held at Istiqbal Tora prison. However, he was taken twice to the State Security Intelligence (SSI) headquarters in Cairo for interrogation where, he alleged, he was repeatedly tortured for a week by being beaten, hung by his wrists and ankles in contorted positions and subjected to electric shocks while all the time naked and with his eyes covered by a blindfold. He said a doctor regularly checked on the health of torture victims ...
Further arrests were made following the bomb attacks in Cairo in April and in Sharm el-Sheikh in July. Again, many of those detained were reportedly tortured and there were at least two deaths in custody in circumstances suggesting that torture or ill-treatment were contributory factors.
l Mohammad Suleiman Youssef and Ashraf Said Youssef, two cousins, both died soon after being detained. Following the former's death on 29 April, his family was reportedly pressured by the authorities into signing a medical report which attributed his death to natural causes. Ashraf Said Youssef, who was detained on the day that his cousin died, was held incommunicado for 13 days and his relatives only learned of his whereabouts when he was transferred to Al-Minyal University Hospital with serious head injuries on May 11. He died six days later. The public prosecutor said he caused his own injuries by repeatedly banging his head against his cell wall. No proper investigation was known to have been carried out.
The authorities generally failed to conduct prompt, impartial and thorough investigations into allegations of torture, especially in cases having a political or security aspect, where officials responsible for carrying out investigations were allowed to commit abuses with impunity. By contrast, there were several prosecutions of police officers accused of torturing, ill-treating or causing the deaths of suspects in ordinary criminal cases. There were reports that some torture victims had received compensation.
Defendants facing charges relating to national security or terrorism were frequently tried before courts established under emergency legislation or military courts, even when the defendants were civilians. These courts fail in many respects to satisfy international standards for fair trial; for example, they provide for no right of full judicial review before a higher tribunal.
l Mohammad Abdullah Raba and Mohammad Gayiz Sabbah went on trial before the (Emergency) Supreme State Security Court at Ismailia in July, accused in connection with the Taba and Nuweiba bomb attacks of October 2004. Both defendants alleged at the trial's opening session, which AI observed, that they had been tortured by the SSI to force them to confess. They were then referred for medical examination, but a subsequent report dismissed their allegations and the court failed to order a thorough, impartial investigation. Although arrested in October 2004, they first had access to their lawyers only on the opening day of the trial.
Violence against women In July, a coalition of 94 organizations ... launched a national campaign to criminalize all forms of domestic violence against women in Egypt ...
Restrictions on freedom of expression, association and assembly
Restrictions on freedom of expression, association and assembly persisted. NGOs continued to operate under a restrictive 2002 law; some faced obstacles at the Social Affairs Ministry when seeking to register and obtain legal status. For example, the ministry turned down the Egyptian Association Against Torture's application to register, a decision subsequently upheld by an administrative court.
Journalists continued to be threatened, beaten or imprisoned because of their work. A bill introduced by Mubarak in February 2004 that would abolish prison terms for publishing offenses was not made law.
On several occasions, police used excessive force against people demonstrating against government policies or to assert their basic rights. At other times, police stood back and took no action when supporters of the ruling NDP physically assaulted opposition supporters.
l Scores of demonstrators advocating a boycott of the May referendum to amend the Constitution and journalists working for opposition newspapers were assaulted, reportedly by NDP supporters. Some of the assaults allegedly took place in the presence of police who failed to intervene. The public prosecutor ordered an investigation into the assaults but closed it in December on the grounds that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute.
l During the December parliamentary elections, police fired live ammunition, rubber bullets and tear gas into crowds seeking to vote at polling stations that police had closed or cordoned off in Al-Daqahlia, Al-Sharqia and other areas. At least 11 people were killed in the violence. No official investigation was known to have been held.
Refugees and migrants
In December, 27 Sudanese refugees and migrants were killed and others injured when police brutally dispersed what had been for three months a peaceful sit-in close to the offices of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Cairo. Police were said to have aimed water cannons at protesters and subjected them to indiscriminate beatings. The demonstrators, whose numbers had swelled to around 2,500 by December, were calling for improvements in their living conditions, protection from return to Sudan and resettlement in Europe or North America.
In September, up to 2,000 prisoners were released for health and humanitarian reasons, reportedly following recommendations by the NCHR. Thousands of other detainees were held in prisons where conditions amounted to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. Hundreds held in administrative detention were reportedly suffering from illnesses including tuberculosis, skin diseases and paralysis, which were common because of lack of hygiene and medical care, overcrowding and poor food quality. Scores of them went on hunger strikes in May and June to protest against their ill-treatment and lack of adequate medical care.
l Relatives of hundreds of administrative detainees held a sit-in at the Lawyers' Syndicate's building in Cairo for several months prior to the September presidential elections. They were protesting against the continued detention of their relatives and the conditions of detention, which had caused health problems. They also demonstrated in October outside the Interior Ministry building in Cairo's Lazoghly Square to call for the release of their relatives, some of whom were thought to have been detained for more than a decade.
AI country visits In June/July AI delegates met victims of torture and their families, families of administrative detainees, human rights activists, lawyers, and NCHR and government officials.