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Human Rights Watch and eight other organizations released a report yesterday condemning laxity in preventing the torture of detainees. The report documents several instances of torture and ill-treatment and notes faults in maintaining judicial independence and following up on complaints of alleged torture. Lama Fakih, Middle East and North Africa Director at HRW, told L'Orient Today that “there has been a lack of follow-through” to investigate complaints alleging torture. Lebanon’s National Preventative Mechanism against Torture is not implemented, the report said. Deaths in Lebanese prisons have doubled since last year and conditions continue to deteriorate.
The Finance Ministry announced it received only a draft from Banque du Liban forensic auditors Alvarez & Marsal (A&M), responding to accusations that caretaker Finance Minister Youssef Khalil withheld the report. Former Finance Minister Salim Jreissati and a Cabinet source told L’Orient Today that Khalil received the report 15 days ago. Jreissati accused Khalil of withholding the A&M report from the public. Khalil said the BDL forensic audit could take up to five more months to be finalized, despite already being almost a year late. The audit is a key precondition for unlocking a multi-million dollar International Monetary Fund aid package.
An electric generator exploded in the Zoqaq al-Blat neighborhood of Beirut, starting a fire that damaged three apartments, a shop and six cars, Civil Defense spokesperson Charbel Msann told L’Orient Today. No injuries were reported. Msann confirmed that firefighters extinguished the blaze, which spread to two fuel tanks. The same day, the Civil Defense announced they put out a fire at a landfill in Dawra. Private generators are widespread across Lebanon and fill the gap in state electricity coverage. Generator-related fires were previously recorded across the country and have led to multiple injuries.
The Internal Security Forces announced the seizure of 450,000 Captagon pills allegedly headed to an unidentified Gulf country. The ISF said the illicit stimulant was hidden in electrical equipment stored in the southern suburbs of Beirut and was allegedly intended to be sent first to the Democratic Republic of Congo, before arriving to a Gulf state. Lebanese authorities regularly intercept Captagon shipments allegedly intended for Gulf states via African countries. Gulf authorities meanwhile, continue to urge Lebanon to curb smuggling.
In case you missed it, here’s our must-read story from yesterday: “LBP or LL: What’s in a name?”
Compiled by Abbas Mahfouz