HRW Urges Lebanon to Investigate Alleged Torture of Actor


Lebanon must investigate the account of a prominent actor who says he was forcibly disappeared and tortured by state security forces last year, Human Rights Watch said on Monday. 

Ziad Itani was arrested in November and held for several months, accused of "collaborating" with Israel, which is formally still at war with Lebanon. 

He was released in March after it appeared that a top Lebanese security official had framed him, but the time he spent in detention haunted him, he told HRW. 

The actor and writer said he was held for nearly a week in what appeared to be an informal jail, where men in civilian clothes punched and kicked him, forced him into stress positions and threatened to sexually assault him. 

"There was no doctor who saw me, my body was all blue and I was spitting blood," he told the rights group. 

"I couldn't speak properly."

Itani says he was then handed over to military police and held in solitary confinement for nearly two months, during which he was not able to meet privately with his lawyer or family.

"Itani's allegations of torture and disappearance demand a thorough investigation into his treatment in detention and why he was arrested in the first place," said Lama Fakih, HRW's deputy Middle East director. 

"If Itani was indeed framed, then this was a massive miscarriage of justice, and authorities should guarantee that this can never happen again."

According to rights groups, Lebanese authorities have used torture to extract confessions from detainees.

Itani himself told HRW that his physical abuse began when he refused to sign a written confession that he was collaborating with Israel. 

Over the next week, his captors chained him, hung him from his wrists, broke one of his teeth, and threatened to "insert a rod into his anus if he didn't sign," he said.

He finally agreed to sign the confession.

That same month, Lebanon passed a new law to criminalise torture, investigate such allegations and compensate victims. 

"Torture is not only illegal but also ineffective, because it can lead to false confessions," Fakih said. 

"This case presents a clear litmus test for whether Lebanon's new torture law will help end impunity for torture or remain on paper only."

In May, Lebanon charged high-ranking officer Suzanne Hajj with "fabricating" the case against Itani. 

A source close to the case said Hajj had been seeking revenge after Itani shed light on her liking a controversial post on Twitter last year, after which she was demoted.

Itani has shot to prominence in recent years for his series of comedy plays on Beirut and previously worked as a journalist with Lebanon's Al-Mayadeen channel and various regional newspapers. 

Comments 13
Thumb ex-fpm 16 July 2018, 13:25

And you have the head of a terror militia confessing and admitting publicly in several televised speeches his salary and his party's money, weapons, supplies, ammunition, and food comes from a foreign state (Iran) but that is not considered treason in Lebanon.

What is treason then according to this joke of a country?

Thumb janoubi 16 July 2018, 20:07

Saudi Arabia and Iran are not enemies and they have diplomatic ties.

Does your Iran allow an iranian party whose leader says on TV his salary, money, supplies and arms come from Saudi Arabia ya irani?

Would they try him for treason?

Thumb marcus 16 July 2018, 21:09

do you expect this heretic to understand what patriotism and loyalty to one's country are?!
he is a typical shia who considers himself a citizen of iran.

Thumb whyaskwhy 16 July 2018, 21:31

Cut Mystick some slack guys, hes 11 years old and is attempting to express his blurred views here. Official enemy of Lebanon is lack of education as you can tell from his writing. Good job Mystic keep trying and one day who knows where you will end up.

Thumb s.o.s 16 July 2018, 22:26

Janoubi had to draw for Mystic to get the picture lol
I think he finally got it and will keep a low profile on that one! Lmao.

Thumb enterprise 17 July 2018, 03:33


save yourself the ignominy of being laughed at and commit suicide.

Thumb s.o.s 16 July 2018, 15:21

Let’s stick wooden rods in the behinds of every army and ISF commander to teach them a lesson. They’re the true cooks, accomplices of terrorists, if it were up to me I’d send them to the gallows.

Thumb justin 16 July 2018, 15:42

and where is Suzanne AL Hajj now?

Free enjoying the glitzy Beirut nightlife flaunting her latest plastic surgery procedure.

Thumb galaxy 16 July 2018, 17:31

She would not mind; in fact she would enjoy it.

Thumb s.o.s 16 July 2018, 19:53

Haha. I bet she would. I have a cousin who works as a cop abroad, I can tell you that the entire police station knows her intimately. My aunt made a huge drama out of it and complained to their boss... this is a daily thing over there....

Thumb lubnani.masi7i 16 July 2018, 16:38

We don't need HRW report to know how the Lebanese security agencies use the ugliest methods of torture to obtain confessions on 'selected' and 'targeted' sects and individuals.

Despite its fake outward appearance of freedom and democracy, Lebanon remains a Police state and today more than ever before under the tenure of the current president.

Thumb s.o.s 16 July 2018, 16:41

it's as if the Syrians were still ruling the country. oh wait a second, they still are, they are all sons of Hafiz el Assad (according to the guy who said this last year and got arrested for it) and Michel is no exception.

Thumb whyaskwhy 16 July 2018, 21:44

The law is simple, if your pro Kizballah then your fine and if not then your an Israeli sympathizer period. Its no different to any despot nation.....