Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International, blogs from Beirut, Lebanon. Follow Salil on Twitter @SalilShetty
At a time of extreme contestation of what constitutes truth, and an era where “fake news” is almost celebrated, the rule of law based on real evidence is more essential than ever.
International human rights law and humanitarian law are long-established standards and norms, and are critical to be able to distinguish right from wrong.
Human rights give us a framework to interpret and describe why what we see is wrong. And they give us a legal architecture to hold governments to account and demand change.
And what is the alternative to addressing the massive challenges the world faces without international solidarity and accountability, without a shared commitment to uphold the equal and inalienable rights of every person?
Posted at 0001hrs GMT 2 February 2016
More than 100 Syrian refugees have been forcibly returned to Syria by the Lebanese authorities today, Amnesty International has learned. Around 150 others are still stranded at Beirut’s Rafic Hariri International Airport and are at risk of imminent deportation in the coming hours. The authorities are reportedly planning to force them to leave on the next flight at 9:30pm local time.
The refugees had arrived in Beirut on flights from Syria with the intention of travelling on to Turkey. They were due to depart on 7 January but were unable to leave as two Turkish Airlines flights were cancelled ahead of new visa regulations for Syrian refugees imposed by the Turkish authorities that came into force today restricting access to the country.
What is it like to be a refugee in Lebanon? The answer you'll get will be different depending on whether you speak to a women, girl, man, or boy.
Early marriage and street harassment are just a few of the serious issues uniquely faced by refugee women and girls in Lebanon. And because of legal restrictions imposed on Syrian refugees by the Lebanese government, many refugee women and girls feel unable to report threats, harassment, or violence to the police. Refugee women and girls living in Lebanon, especially those in women-led households, are at risk of experiencing human rights abuses.
As part of the annual 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign, Amnesty International is sharing the stories of two refugee women living in Lebanon.
Learn more and take action today!
The attack that killed at least 41 people in the Lebanese capital, Beirut, reveals a shocking disregard for human life, said Amnesty International.
“This was a gruesome and unjustifiable suicide attack in a populated civilian area,” said Philip Luther, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International.
“The Lebanese authorities must ensure that those responsible for this terrible crime do not go unpunished.”
This attack also highlights the growing risk of contagion from the Syrian conflict.
“Until all sides responsible for the countless war crimes and crimes against humanity in the conflict in neighbouring Syria are brought to account, the violence will continue to pose a menace beyond Syria’s borders,” Philip Luther said.
“We again call on the UN Security Council to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court, so that all suspected war crimes and crimes against humanity can be investigated.”
Thursday’s attack was among the deadliest in Beirut since the end of the Lebanese civil war in 1990.
The Lebanese authorities should investigate allegations that security forces used excessive force to disperse residents protesting in Beirut over the lack of adequate public services, a waste management crisis, and corruption, Amnesty International said ahead of fresh demonstrations planned for today.
At least 343 people were treated for injuries and 59 more were hospitalized, according to the Red Cross, after protests on 22 and 23 August organized by the local “You Stink” civil society movement.
“Lebanese security officials responded to overwhelmingly peaceful protesters in downtown Beirut by shooting into the air with live rounds, firing rubber bullets, tear gas canisters, and water cannons, and in some cases hurling stones and beating protesters with batons and rifles,” said Lama Fakih, Senior Crisis Advisor at Amnesty International.
Released 12:00 pm (midday) Beirut (10am BST) Monday 15 June 2015Worst refugee crisis since World War II. One million refugees desperately in need of resettlement. Four million Syrian refugees struggling to survive in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt. More than three million refugees in sub-Saharan Africa, and only a small fraction offered resettlement since 2013. 3,500 people drowned while trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea in 2014 -- 1,865 so far in 2015. 300 people died in the Andaman Sea in the first three months of 2015 due to starvation, dehydration and abuse by boat crews.
> Download the Report (pdf: 1.3 Mb)
New requirements imposed by the Lebanese authorities which may restrict access for people desperate to flee Syria is yet another stark reminder that the international community must do much more to assist.
To its considerable credit, Lebanon already hosts more than 1.2 million refugees from Syria – equal to about a quarter of its population before the Syrian crisis began. As the crisis nears its fifth year, Lebanon and other countries in the region which host the majority of Syria’s refugees are struggling to cope.
Lebanon and Syria’s other neighbours are struggling to cope with the millions of refugees who have fled the increasingly dire situation since the crisis and conflict began.
The international community must do much more to resettle refugees and share the burden in the face of one of the worst humanitarian crises in recent history. According to the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, approximately 10% of refugees in the main host countries need resettlement. However, to date less than 2% have been offered resettlement places.
Posted at 0001 (BST) 1 July 2014
Palestinian refugees from Syria - including pregnant women, children and women with infants – have been denied entry into Lebanon due to tightened border restrictions, said Amnesty International in a new briefing published today.
The briefing Denied refuge: Palestinians from Syria seeking safety in Lebanon highlights the desperate plight of families torn apart after falling foul of fluctuating border rules while trying to cross into Lebanon. In one of the most shocking cases a mother with a new-born baby was barred from entering Lebanon when she tried to join her husband and other five children.
“By denying entry to a mother and her new-born child, among others, the Lebanese authorities have displayed a chilling disregard for the rights of refugees who are fleeing a bloody conflict. Absolutely no-one seeking refuge from a conflict should be denied entry; by doing so Lebanon is flouting its obligations under international law,” said Sherif Elsayed-Ali, Head of Refugee and Migrants’ Rights at Amnesty International.
By Khairunissa Dhala, Refugee Researcher at Amnesty International
When Khalil, 26, entered Lebanon having escaped the conflict and humanitarian crisis in Syria, he thought his life would finally improve.
But one night, he was lured into a meeting with two men. He says they raped him, stole money from his wallet and his mobile phone.
Khalil never reported the alleged rape to the police. He is a refugee, and he is also gay. He feared he would be penalized, and that no one would care about what had happened to him.
Since then, he has tried to commit suicide – a friend found him and took him to hospital.
Although Lebanon is often perceived as more tolerant than most countries in the region, like in Syria the Lebanese Penal Code considers ‘homosexual acts’ illegal. The country’s lesbian gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex (LGBTI) community is growing in prominence but the issue is still a taboo.
As one of the nearly one million refugees from Syria in Lebanon, Khalil claims to suffer daily discrimination on the basis of his nationality. But as a gay man he faces further hardship.
The Lebanese authorities must conduct a full investigation into the death in custody of Nader al-Bayoumi, a 35-year-old man detained following armed clashes between the Lebanese army and fighters supporting the Sunni Muslim cleric Sheikh Ahmed al-Asseer in Sidon, south Lebanon, last month, said Amnesty International. In a new briefing published today the organization also detailed allegations of torture and mistreatment of others arrested - including a child.
Amnesty International has seen images of Nader al-Bayoumi’s body, which bore signs of horrific abuse. A forensic pathologist who reviewed the images concluded that the bruising on the body was consistent with assault and suggested internal haemorrhage was a possible cause of death.
“The obscurity surrounding al-Bayoumi’s death, whose body was handed over three days after his arrest, is unacceptable. An immediate, independent and transparent investigation into his case is crucial,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme Director.