Amnesty International, Annual Report 2000 on Lebanon
Scores of people were arrested on political grounds, including students arrested after demonstrations, who were prisoners of conscience. Dozens of people accused of "collaborating" with Israel received trials which fell short of international fair trial standards. There were reports of torture and ill-treatment. At least 12 people were sentenced to death; no one was executed. Armed opposition groups, such as Hizbullah and al-Takfir wa'l-Hijra, also killed civilians and took prisoners.
Several officials were arrested as part of President Emile Lahoud's continuing anti-corruption campaign. Four judges were shot inside a court in Sidon in June by unknown gunmen.
The government introduced a number of reform bills, but none had been adopted by the end of the year. Among them was a proposed new Code of Criminal Procedure. AI was concerned that a draft law to reform the judiciary might reduce the independence of the judiciary if adopted. During the year tensions increased between Palestinian refugees and the Lebanese authorities.
A strip of south Lebanon about 15 kilometres wide continued to be occupied by Israel and was policed by Israel's proxy militia, the South Lebanon Army (SLA). Syria continued to maintain a large military and intelligence presence in Lebanon.
Scores of people, including prisoners of conscience, were arrested on political charges during the year. Among them were students who were detained for distributing leaflets on behalf of opposition groups; they were usually released after a few hours or days. Dozens of people were arrested, accused of involvement in armed attacks against Lebanese or Syrian officials or of "collaborating" with Israel.
FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION
Journalists and artists continued to be charged for exercising their right to freedom of expression.
TORTURE AND ILL-TREATMENT
There were some reports of torture and ill-treatment, including instances of brutality or excessive use of force by the army and military police against demonstrators.
Dozens of political prisoners were tried by the Justice Council and the Military Court whose proceedings — such as summary proceedings in the Military Court and the lack of judicial review for the verdicts of the Justice Council — failed to meet international fair trial standards.
JEZZINE ARRESTS AND TRIALS
More than 160 former members of the SLA surrendered to the Lebanese authorities in May after the SLA withdrew from Jezzine. Most were brought to trial in the following months before the Military Court in Beirut charged with "collaboration" with Israel or with the enemy" and were sentenced to up to a year's imprisonment. During their interrogation they were reportedly kept hooded and not allowed access to family or lawyers.
Antoinette Chahin and Jihad Abi Ramia were released in June after five years' imprisonment. They were acquitted by the Criminal Court of Cassation in a retrial. In 1997 Antoinette Chahin had been sentenced to death, commuted to life imprisonment with hard labour, and Jihad Abi Ramia to 12 years' imprisonment, in connection with the politically-motivated killing of Father Sam'an Boutros al-Khoury; the court had based its decision almost entirely on confessions by the two defendants extracted under torture. AI welcomed the acquittal but regretted that the Court had not ordered a proper inquiry into the torture allegations.
More than 12 people were sentenced to death, including at least two women. No one was executed.
The village of Arnun on the edge of the zone occupied by Israel was disputed between Israel and the SLA, and Lebanon. In February, after being "annexed" by Israel and the SLA, the village was "liberated" by a mass demonstration of Lebanese students. It was reoccupied by Israel in April. In May and June the SLA withdrew from the Jezzine salient.
During the year 23 Lebanese and two Israeli civilians were reportedly killed in the military conflict in south Lebanon, most as a result of deliberate or indiscriminate attacks.
KHIAM DETENTION CENTRE
At least 130 people, including women and children, were held in the Khiam detention centre; some had been held for up to 14 years. The Khiam detention centre was run by the SLA in cooperation with the Israel Defence Force (see Israel and the Occupied Territories entry). Those detained were not charged or tried and had no contact with lawyers, although they were allowed to meet families once every three months. Detainees were routinely tortured and ill-treated in Khiam and in other SLA detention centres.
Despite repeated calls for investigations by the families of victims, there was no investigation during the year into the fate of more than 17,000 people, including Palestinians, Lebanese and other nationals, abducted by armed groups in Lebanon during the civil war (1975 to 1990).
AI COUNTRY VISIT
In November AI delegates met Prime Minister Salim al-Huss and Minister of the Interior Michel al-Murr.
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