Human rights defenders harrassed and arbitrarily detained


Ghassan Abdallah, the founder and executive director of the Palestinian Human Rights Organisation (PHRO) - an organisation working to defend the rights of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon - was questioned on 14th May after he voluntarily presented himself at the General Directorate of Lebanese General Security. Abdallah was then transferred to the Lebanese Military Intelligence for interrogation and detained until 16th May when he was released.  

International groups standing in solidarity with Abdallah and PHRO, launched urgent appeals, calling for his immediate and unconditional release. EuroMed Rights and Amnesty demanded to know the basis of Abdallah's detention. Amnesty further decried the denial of Abdallah's right of access to a lawyer during the interrogation and detention. Front Line Defenders condemned the questioning and detention of Ghassan Abdallah, which it stated was solely motivated by his peaceful and legitimate activities in defence of human rights, particularly the rights of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon.The interrogation followed Abdallah’s attendance at an international meeting on human rights in Palestine and the rights of Palestinian refugees organised by EuroMed Rights in Paris on 27-28 April. The organisations also expressed concerned for Ghassan Abdallah’s health given that he was initially denied access to his medication.

In another case, Hadi Damien, the organiser of the Gay Pride Week in Lebanon was briefly detained on 14 May, a few days into the week's celebrations. He was held with 39 detainees in a cell designed to hold five people. According to Damien's lawyer, Layal Saqr, her client was interrogated over allegedly encouraging debauchery and offending public decency. Damien was released the following day, 15 May, after signing a pledge to call off the rest of the week's events in accordance with the ruling of the General Prosecutor of Beirut. The festival events were subsequently suspended.