New Resolution Addresses European Parliament Concerns about the Arbitrary Detentions of Lebanese Citizens by Syria

SOLIDA (Support for Lebanese Detained Arbitrarily) is proud of the interest expressed by European Parliament members to the issue of the detained and missing Lebanese.

Last week, the ratification by the European Parliament of an Association Agreement between the European Union and Lebanon was the occasion for a debate in which critical questions were raised concerning human rights in Lebanon. In particular, the question of the Lebanese citizens detained in Syria was repeatedly raised by several MPs belonging to different political groups.

As part of the ratification proceedings, a new resolution was adopted by the European Parliament on January 16, 2003, referring among others to the resolution of March 12, 1998, itself pertaining to the status of Lebanese prisoners illegally held in Syria. The new resolution specifically mentions the following:

" G. Whereas 17,000 Lebanese citizens continue to be missing, and in consideration of the plight of their families in the face of the silence of the Lebanese authorities, and urging the countries of the region to resolve the problem of the citizens of neighboring countries who are illegally detained,

3. Reaffirms that the respect for human rights is an essential element of this new Association Agreement, which must be implemented and carefully monitored in order to genuinely improve the respect for human rights in Lebanon;

4. Encourages the Lebanese authorities to take one step in that direction by abolishing the death penalty, by ratifying the United Nations Convention against torture, by signing the Rome statute of the International Court of Justice, by initiating a reform of the judicial system that clearly defines the limits of the jurisdiction of military courts, by resolving the issue of missing persons, and by cooperating with all UN human rights organizations;"

SOLIDA welcomes the adoption of this resolution, which comes at a time when the Lebanese authorities continue more than ever to refuse to assume their responsibilities vis-a-vis their own citizens who are either missing or arbitrarily detained, and at a time when Syria refuses to keep promises it made in July 2002 to the families of the Lebanese who are detained in Syria, namely to answer to the fate of all the Lebanese who have been transferred from Lebanon to Syria.

Paris, January 23, 2003