Lebanon's human rights minister calls for probe into Syrian deaths in custody

Elias Hubbard
July 8, 2017

The camps are in the eastern Lebanese town of Arsal near the Syrian border.

Anger mounted among Syrians in Lebanon on Wednesday as a Syrian opposition group and an worldwide watchdog called for a quick investigation into the deaths of four Syrians in Lebanese army custody.

A number of Syrian refugees in the northeastern border town of Arsal have asked to be transferred to a north Syrian border town with Turkey following a Lebanese Army operation in the area, The Daily Star learned Tuesday.

On Wednesday, it said 85 had been charged with illegal entry into Lebanon, while 15 others have been released. During the raids, soldiers arrested more than 300 people.

In Arsal on Wednesday, Syrian refugees blocked a road to prevent the return of the bodies of the four for burial, demanding that autopsies take place first.

Human rights lawyer Nabil Halabi also called for an independent probe.

He explained that the operation in Arsal is not a "campaign against the displaced and refugees", but against the terrorists, adding "Arsal's suburbs include Syrian civilians, as well as three terrorist organizations".

A Syrian opposition group and global and local human rights organizations on Wednesday also called for the investigation.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with regulations, denied they died under torture.

Commenting on the development, Lama Fakih, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, said: "The army acknowledged not one but four deaths in custody without revealing the chain of events that led to these deaths".

"The government's decision to ask the army to investigate the circumstances of the detainee deaths is only evidence of efforts to ensure transparency and clarify the matter for the public", Chouceir added.

The office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights issued a similarly worded statement on Wednesday evening.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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