Torture&Bribery

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Abstract:

In this study, we will not be discussing if torture or bribery are useful, harmful, good or bad to our society. We will only discuss their nature, who practices them, and where do they practice them. Most of all, we will be discussing a certain method we find very helpful to decrease their practice and even to totally stop them for a certain period of time. This will only happen if and when our society decides to eliminate or decrease torture, bribery and similar practices.

Table of Contents

Introduction

1- What is Torture?

A- Who practices torture in Lebanon?

B- Why is torture practiced?

C- Where is torture practiced?

2- What is Bribery?

A- Who practices bribery in Lebanon and where does it happen?

B- Why is bribery practiced?

3- Historical approaches to the problem

A- Historical approach to bribery in Lebanon

B- Historical approach to torture in Lebanon

I- Monitoring public administrations and detention centers

4- What is our innovative solution?

5- Why is our Solution useful?

6- How can our solution be implemented?

A-Threats to our solution

7- Cost of a similar project


The international debate on torture is rising as never before. If certain people consider today the  resort to torture justified in certain situations, others however are debating the effectiveness of torture in whatever aim, its ethical value as well as its deteriorating result on individuals and societies.

Many people, especially in Lebanon, are arguing in favor of certain forms of “corruption”, mainly bribery, saying that it is after all a bad way for some good people to achieve good things, such as feeding their children and having a better life, arguing that those people are not getting their rights through the legal channels.

For us in Lebanon, torture and bribery are part of the political corruption, even though both are illegal in Lebanon. However, a person can’t step in a public administration or a court of law without paying a bribe or seeing someone publicly doing it.

Furthermore, fear lies deep inside the majority of the Lebanese citizens’ hearts when they have to enter any police or military facility.

The use of torture was widely used in Lebanon, during the Syrian and Israeli occupation, and is still practiced on a wide scale by Lebanese themselves as a method to extract information, punish and intimidate.

Torture as well as corruption can affect anyone, “Anyone can be a victim of torture – children as well as adults, young or old, religious or atheist, intellectual or not.”[i]

Because of all the above-mentioned reasons as well as many others, we strongly object to torture, we ask for its immediate abolishment and for financial and moral compensation to its victims as well as punishment to its practitioners. Torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatments, like slavery and genocide, are always wrong. This principle was established many years ago, and is enshrined in international law.[ii]

Some places in society are “evil”, nevertheless they remain necessary in the eyes of the majority of citizens. In this context, the famous Stanford Jail Experiment[iii] brought forward an interesting question:

“What happens when you put good people in an evil place? Does humanity win over evil, or does evil triumph?”

This study does not introduce an answer to these questions. It does introduce though one factor that can help humanity win over “evil”.

Cameras in detention centers and jails as well as cameras in public administrations under the supervision of the Public Prosecutor office, can help good people decrease the use of “evil” methods in these places.

1-What is Torture?

Article I, of the United Nations Convention Against Torture, defines torture with: “…the term ‘torture’ means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity.”[iv]

The World Medical Association defines torture with: “…torture is defined as the deliberate, systematic or wanton infliction of physical or mental suffering by one or more persons acting alone or on the orders of any authority to force another person to yield information, to make a confession, or for any other reason.[v]

Torture is a crime against humanity; as a strategic tool of repression, it is the single most effective weapon against democracy.[vi]

Torture is not an effective means of interrogation and does not yield useful or truthful

Information. It is, however, a highly effective means of controlling populations: torture destroys leaders, disintegrates opposition and terrorizes communities.[vii]

A-     Who practices torture in Lebanon?

Those most likely to be involved in torture and other forms of ill-treatment in Lebanon are:
1- The police
2- The military
3- Co-detainees acting with the approval or on the orders of public officials

“ALEF ( Association Libanaise pour l’Education et la Formation ) carried out a research in 2007 about torture in Lebanon. The research showed that torture is commonly practiced by law-enforcement and military agents in Lebanon, despite the body of treaties prohibiting torture that have been signed by the State.”[viii]

“According to ALEF’s research, during 2007, torture has been practiced by the ISF (Internal Security Forces) against a disturbing number of arrested persons, including, but not limited to, illegal migrants, drug addicts and sex workers. The military intelligence has also tortured suspects of crimes against national security and dozens of Palestinian refugees during the conflict in Nahr al-Bared refugee camp in Northern Lebanon in May 2007, and in the aftermath that lasted until September 2007.”

“Allegedly, torture has been routinely practiced by the military intelligence against suspected Fatah al-Islam fighters and Palestinian refugees in 2007, as well as by members of the Drug Repression Bureau against certain groups such as drug addicts. Torture against these groups is initially used to extract information, but sometimes turns into becoming a tool for deterrence and collective punishment, with impunity for the perpetrators and with at least the implicit consent of the relevant authorities. ”

Moreover, torture was broadly used in the last few years by military and police agents against peaceful protesters and students. Leaders from the opposition parties were also subject to torture, ill-treatment and humiliation.

B- Why is torture practiced?

The United Nations Convention Against Torture identifies four reasons for torture, namely:

(1) to obtain a confession;

(2) to obtain information;

(3) to punish;

(4) to coerce the sufferer or others to act in certain ways.[ix]

In many countries, “torture is practiced with the purpose of controlling populations by destroying individual leaders and frightening entire communities”.

  • Torture is rarely used to extract information from someone.
  • Torture is a low-technology enterprise, mostly carried out through beatings.
  • Psychological torture usually involves various kinds of threats and multiple forms of deprivation.
  • Torture occurs in a political context that frequently employs various oppressive and repressive forms of governance; many of these are highly traumatic.

Torture is not an effective means of interrogation and does not yield useful or truthful information. It is, however, a highly effective means of controlling populations: torture destroys leaders, disintegrates opposition and terrorizes communities. [x]

C- Where is torture practiced?

In Lebanon torture is widely practiced in jails, detention and interrogation centers, which are under the supervision of the Minister of Interior Affairs or the Minister of Justice or the Minsiter of Defense and the Military.

Jails in Lebanon have many problems, torture and ill-treatment are only but a few.

The number of jails in lebanon is[xi]:

Jails in Lebanon Number of Jails
Mount of Lebanon 6
North of Lebanon 6
Beirut region 1
Bekaa region 5
South region 4
Total 19 Jails

The number of non-military detention centers:

Detention Centers Number of Non-military Detention Centers
Mount of Lebanon 1
North of Lebanon 1
Beirut region 1
Bekaa region 1
South region 4
Total 8 detention centers

“Military intelligence is renowned for its violent practices in prisons under the Army’s authority, particularly infamous is the Yarzeh prison at the Ministry of Defense.” [xii]

On the other hand, not only is toture practiced in jails but also and mostly in interrogation centers,

According to ALEF, Hobeich detention centre in Beirut is particularly well known for torture and ill-treatment of drug addicts. Beating by sticks, hosing down suspects, and hoisting the suspect to a stick until he collapses are amongst the methods reported there. Such practices reportedly also take place in Zahle prison.

Interviews conducted by ALEF document the different torture methods used in the Yarzeh detention centre at the Ministry of Defense, and the Kobbeh detention centre (North Lebanon), including electrocution, balanco – a method by which the detainee is hung from the wrists, tied behind his back, and “balanced” back and forth-  rape, and beating on genitals and weak or injured parts of the body. Other forms of ill-treatment reported by ALEF are sleep deprivation, blindfolding, humiliation, standing up for long periods and beating.[xiii]

This indicates that detainees (usually suspects in a certain crime) are usually tortured while being held by one of the following institutions:

State Secutrity [xiv]:

State Security Number of known interrogation Centers
General Directorate 1
Mount of Lebanon 5
North of Lebanon 7
Beirut region 3
Bekaa region 5
South region 6
Total 27 Center

General Security[xv]:

General Security Number of known interrogation Centers
General Directorate 1
Mount of Lebanon 11
North of Lebanon 9
Beirut region 1
Bekaa region 7
South region 4
Nabatieh 5
Others 12
Total 50 Centers

Internal Security[xvi]:

Internal Security Number of known interrogation Centers
General Directorate Not available yet
Mount of Lebanon Not available yet
North of Lebanon Not available yet
Beirut region Not available yet
Bekaa region Not available yet
South region Not available yet
Nabatieh Not available yet
Others Not available yet
Total Center

Military Forces:

We know about the ministry of defense. However, the exact number of the military intelligence facilities, detention and investigation centers should be known and well monitored.

2- What is Bribery?

There is an old axiom often applied to people with political ambitions: Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely. In this case, the term corruption means the abuse of a public office for personal gain or other illegal or immoral benefit. Political corruption is a recognized criminal offense, along with bribery, extortion, and embezzlement – three illegal acts often associated with corruption in office. Some forms of corruption may escape legal notice, such as the hiring of relatives for key positions, but they may not escape the scrutiny of voters on Election Day.[xvii]

According to Transparency International (TI) definition of corruption, “It is the misuse of entrusted power for private gain. TI further differentiates between “according to rule” corruption and “against the rule” corruption. When a bribe is paid to receive preferential treatment for something that the bribe receiver is required to do by law, constitute the former. The latter is the case when a bribe is paid to obtain services the bribe receiver is prohibited from providing.”[xviii]

A-    Why is bribery practiced?

Bribery is one form of coruption, and corruption is related to power. All those in power are subject to corruption. Of course, not all those in power are necessarly corrupt, but according to the Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) of 2008, Lebanon scores 3.1 points out of 10 and ranks 102nd among 180 countries.

Lebanese are well aware of corruption, some forms of it, like bribery are well spread, well practiced and well accepted.

Bribery is practiced in the usual places, like public administrations such as ministries, and municipalities.

However, and this is the most dangerous phenomenon, bribery is practiced as well in the most unusual places, such as courts of law and palaces of justice. It is also practiced by lawyers and court writers what indicates that some judges are taking part in it as well, especially that it is practiced in public and right next to the judges rooms, where an A4 paper is usually hung on the wall stating that bribery is against the law and therefore whomever practices it will be punished according to the Lebanese law.

Some laywers also add to their fees the bribes they pay while handling their cases, arguing before their clients that paying bribes is necessary, or work can not be accomplished.

Bribery is also practiced when requiring any official document or carrying out any official transaction. Some forms of bribery are being disguised by taking extra financial stamps from citizens. Asking a citizen to bring ten stamps instead of two, is a wide and common practive in places such as the Ministry of Economy and the Intellectual Property Office in Beirut.

Another dangerous phenomenon is very much related to ill-treatment and torture. Lawyers are paying bribes to police officers or investigators, in the different regions in police stations to make sure the preliminary investigations are to their side or to force a certain unprivileged and unprotected citizen by intimidating, insulting or torturing him, into acting to the benefit of that lawyer or the bribe payer.

It seems that this form of corruption is becoming part of our Lebanese tradition. However, it remains an unacceptable behavior for the majority.

The following table shows the number of Public Administrations in Lebanon:[xix]

Name of the Public Administration Number of locations
Ministry of Agriculture 1
Ministry of Culture 2
Ministry of Displaced 1
Ministry of Economy and Trade 1
Ministry of Education and Higher Education 7
Ministry of Energy and Water 2
Ministry of Environment 2
Ministry of Finance 1
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants 10
Ministry of Industry 1
Ministry of Information 2
Ministry of Interior and Municipalities 8
Ministry of Justice 2
Ministry of Labor 1
Ministry of National Defense – Army Command 1
Ministry of Public Health 1
Ministry of Public Works and Transport 6
Ministry of Social Affairs 7
Ministry of Telecommunications 2
Ministry of Tourism 1
Ministry of Youth and Sports 1
Office of the Minister of State for Administrative Reform (OMSAR) 1
Total 61

B- Who practices bribery in Lebanon and where does it happen?

Asking why people take bribes is very similar to asking why people try to make money.

It is a phenomenon practiced across classes, with no relation to poverty and wealth. It seems in fact that no one is more related to corruption than people of power, not only that, but sometimes it seems as well that everyone in power is benefiting from it.

This debate is very contreversial. Some argue that because he has a need, an employee gets corrupte, while others say it is because of greed only. However, this issue requires a lot of studies and researches to get an exact reason, or list of reasons.

For now, it is important to say that “around the globe, corruption impacts people’s lives in a multitude of ways. In the worst cases, corruption costs lives. In countless other cases, it costs their freedom, health, or money. Some bureaucracies only work if they are enticed by additional “rewards”. In any case, grand and petty corruption is making life more difficult or outright threatens the lives of many people all over the world.”[xx]

3- Historical approaches to the problem

Prevention through documentation and by bringing torturers and those authorizing torture to justice was the most common solution and demand brought forward by the advocators because this sends a strong warning to all existing and would-be perpetrators. But despite the fact that torture is always illegal, and everywhere, torturers are rarely brought to justice, and impunity remains one of the most serious obstacles to the effective prevention of torture.

And while torture survivors’ right to redress is a basic human right enshrined in various international human rights treaties and recognised by several international tribunals, in reality most survivors never obtain the redress they are entitled to because it is always very hard to prove the fact of torture.

Investigation and documentation of alleged torture can generate reliable evidence that torture has taken place. It can be instrumental in bringing perpetrators to justice and in ensuring torture survivors’ access to justice and right to reparation.

On the other hand, “Transparency International” believes that keeping corruption in check is feasible if representatives of the government, business and civil society work together and agree on a set of standards and procedures they all support.

TI’s goal is to define and introduce strategies and mechanisms that make corrupt practices if not impossible, at least unlikely and punishable, both on the national as well as on the international level. A worldwide practice shows that successful anti-corruption policies which reduce corruption into a manageable level necessarily include preventive and detective measures, along with education and public support. [xxi]

A- Historical approach to bribery in Lebanon

One of the very important solutions brought forward in Lebanon, was reforming the administrative procedures to allow citizens to deal with the Public Administration through a reliable and well audited and watched private third party, and in this case the Libanpost Public Services.

This allowed the regular Lebanese citizen to be able to ask for his administrative papers to be made and delivered to him without going to any public administration. By going to a private company, he pays a small fee, and gets his documents done without any bribe.

This solution proved to be a smart and efficient solution. However, the main problem remains unsolved, bribery is still practiced and The Libanpost services can not cover all of the places, especially courts of law, police stations, and specific administrative places.

B- Historical approach to torture in Lebanon

The problem of torture in Lebanon has more than one face. The whole legal system is infected. We believe that it is very rare to find a policeman who practices torture without the approval or carelessness of his official. It came to our knowledge that public prosecutors order the officers under their supervision to practice torture against some detainees to extract information, which indicates that torture is accepted and even advocated on the highest levels.

This fact is well known among lawyers, judges, and public prosecutors.

Nevertheless, torture remains illegal in Lebanon and information extracted by torture, intimidation or other illegal methods can not be used in a court of law.

I- Monitoring public administrations and detention centers

Montesquieu said: “If you give someone a power, he will always misuse it, and nothing stops power but another power”.

The Lebanese political and legal systems advocate and practice this rule. However, as we mentioned earlier, it seems that all parties involved in bribery or in torture are beneficiaries of the situation either directly or indirectly; or in the case of some politicians and officials, it is in their benefit not to engage with those benefiting from similar practices.

Many judges in Lebanon will rule against bribery and torture, if and when evidences are brought forward. This part, i.e. evidence documentation, remains the most difficult part of any legal law case.

Many politicians are promising that direct actions will be held against anyone practicing torture or bribery. However, the same problem occurs and that is bringing forward a solid evidence.

Torture is usually practiced inside the detention and interrogation centers, where there are no witnesses, where witnesses can not know each others or where witnesses are victims as well of the same practices.

Bribery is practiced in public, with the direct consent, involvement, or indifference of different parties. And those who are interested in respecting the law and protecting their liberties and civil rights, still have to solve the problem of bringing enough evidence!

4- What is our innovative solution?

Our solution lies in using the technological advance of our era, especially in the monitoring and surveillance sector, to make sure that every inch of any public administration or detention and interrogation center in Lebanon is being protected and monitored every minute of every day.

The Lebanese government passed a resolution putting the whole Beirut region area under  a strict 24-hour surveillance and all financial and security risks were discussed and solved. [xxii]

Many governments, including the Egyptian, the Iraqi, the British and the US, have been using this sytem efficiently for the past few years.

What we are asking for is the same to be implemented gradually in any and all public administrations, detention and interrogation centers in Lebanon, under the supervision and the direction of the Public Prosecutor Office.

Cameras will be vandal proof equipped with night vision, and sound recording. They will be IP cameras for installation on an intranet network, under the direct supervision of the Public Prosecutor Office of every Caza or of Lebanon.

This system has no security risks, because it will be installed with the same specifications used by the Lebanese government to put the whole beirut region under surveillance and it will be archived for any competent authority to be able to review it later on and up to five years.

The Lebanese government was fighting furiously to implement the project of putting the whole Beirut region under a 24-hour surveillance and they were able to bring a fund of 70 Million USD to implement it.[xxiii]

5- Why is our Solution useful?

The main problem with fighting bribery and torture is proving that they are being practiced and monitoring those who are doing it.

Monitoring Public Administrations, detention and investigation centers with cameras, will create an archive of the events occurring in those places. Thus, any citizen will be able to bring evidence to any allegation of bribery or torture through the legitimate channels.

It will also allow, those with good intentions in power, to find the proof to better practice good governance, rule of law, and protect citizens’ rights.

This solution will make it very hard for corrupt officials to go on taking bribes. It will make public administrations, especially courts of law, detention and investigation centers safer and healthier places, where citizens can feel safe and protected against any misuse of power.

The solution will take Lebanon into a new era of freedom, rule of law and transparency and will strengthen the Lebanese solidarity and feeling of belonging to a modern and respectful country and State.

It will make all citizens feel free and safe and will bring justice to all.

Even with the impunity of government officials and other agents of the State who order or condone torture and ill-treatment[xxiv], this solution will empower public opinion and stakeholders to take actions.

Furthermore, this it will enhance the quality of the public service and its quantity. It is well known in Lebanon that a large number of public employees does not work properly and many of them do not work at all or show up in their offices while they get paid very big salaries. This solution will give a proof for the Public Prosecutor or the political leadership to be able to take the necessary legal actions against those employees to decrease burdens on the public budget of the government and enhance the public service.

6- How can our solution be implemented?

Lebanon is expecting general elections in a few months time, that’s why, in similar times, officials and would be officials will find in their best interests to adopt this solution and/or start implementing it.

The Current Minister of Interrior, Lawyer Ziad Baroud, is a well known advocate of human rights in Lebanon and should support this demand.

The first important thing to be made, is to network with reputable NGOs in Lebanon in order to form a coalition that will adopt this solution and launch an advocacy campaign with tangible aims and targets to achieve.

Aiming high is a must, but it will be a major success even if only one detention center or one public administraion became, “bribes proof” or “torture proof” by installing Cameras therein.

After networking with NGOs, putting an advocacy campaign is a must, taking into consideration the importance of the upcoming elections. Funds should be gathered to raise awarness for this demand, using the Media as a medium to bring public support and demand to this solution.

Financial as well as technical studies should also be prepared to be implemented when funds are brought from national or international sources.

A-Threats to our solution

The first and most important threat is the lack of transparency. The NGOs and personnel involved in this advocacy campaign should not be involved, in any way whatsoever, in buying or selling Cameras and similar solutions. Quotations should be brought from different providers, local or international.

The second most important threat, is the opposition to be expected from those who are benefiting from the current situation. This should be fought back with media and awareness campaigns.

The third most important threat is the lack of funds. We should be working to get international donors to support this demand by offering the Lebanese State funds to implement this project.

Lack of planning might also be a deteriorating factor that must be taken care of at the early beginnings.

Not working fast enough will make us loose the four months window we have before the general elections that can bring national support by different candidates.

7-   Cost of a similar project

Since an exact and accurate number of places to be monitored can only be known when a professional and accurate study can be made, we saw it convenient for general information, to ask for a quotation from a known provider of this service in Lebanon, a company called:

The quotation

“A Police facility

– Scientific study

– Three floors building

– Each floor is of 1000 square meters

– Each floor has 7 offices as well as 4 interrogation rooms, 1 big sleeping room, 2 detention cells, and 4 corridors.

They must be monitored by sound and video, and should provide night vision in some of them in order to provide a minimum of visibility and control in the key points of the facility.

24/7 uninterrupted surveillance and monitoring. Intranet and archiving for 5 years. Any other relevant and necessary feature or information.”

The company’s reply came as follows:

“It is good to give 50% safety when proposing a budget since there are many details that are related and will appear only later (installation difficulties, cabling, design modifications, extra requirements..etc)

Please find below two proposals:

1. Cost effective proposal

Cameras: 48 x 135$ = 6,480$ (based on 16 cameras per floor)

Regulated power supply: 6 x 60 = 360$ ( Based on two PSU per floor)

PC based DVR 16CH with 4 TB HD w/o screen & UPS: 3 x 3,300$ = 9,900$ (Based on one DVR per floor)

Total: 16,740$

2. High end proposal

Cameras: 48 x 225$ = 10,800 $ (based on 16 cameras per floor)

Regulated power supply: 6 x 60 = 360$ (Based on two PSU per floor)

16CH stand alone DVR with 4 TB HD w/o screen & UPS: 3 x 3,750$ = 11,250$ (Based on one DVR per floor)

Total: 22,410$”                                         (The end)


[i] International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims, http://www.irct.org/Defining-torture-19.aspx

[ii] No justification for torture, Amnesty International, http://www.amnesty.org/en/campaigns/counter-terror-with-justice/issues/no-justification-for-torture

[iii] The Stanford prison experiment was a study of the psychological effects of becoming a prisoner or prison guard. http://www.prisonexp.org/

[iv] (Article I, United Nations Convention Against Torture, 1984)

[v] http://www.wma.net/e/policy/b3.htm

[vi] STATEMENT OF MR. DOUGLAS A. JOHNSON, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR THE VICTIMS OF TORTURE, HEARING BEFORE THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON AFRICA, GLOBAL HUMAN RIGHTS AND INTERNATIONAL OPERATIONS.

[vii] http://www.cvt.org/main.php/InsideCVT/WhatisTorture

[viii] “Lebanon: The Painful Whereabouts of Detention” -http://domino.un.org/unispal.nsf/1ce874ab1832a53e852570bb006dfaf6/e251909c92085a00852574bf00608a05!OpenDocument

[ix] http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/torture/notes.html#6

[x] www.CVT.org The center for Victims of Torture

[xi] Lebanese Association For Human Rights,  report on jails’ conditions, 2006 http://www.aldhom.org/dirasat/prison.htm

[xii] ALEF, Association Libanaise Pour l’Education et la Formation, “Lebanon: The Painful Whereabouts of Detention”, June 2008.

[xiii] From a written statement* submitted by Pax Christi International to HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL of the United nations, http://domino.un.org/unispal.nsf/1ce874ab1832a53e852570bb006dfaf6/e251909c92085a00852574bf00608a05!OpenDocument

[xiv] The website of the State Security, http://www.state-security.gov.lb/gdlinks1.htm

[xv] The website of the General Security, http://www.general-security.gov.lb/Arabic/Addresses/addcentral/

[xvi] We tried to communicate with the ministry of interior affairs to get more information and we have been contacted by Major Joseph Moussalem, the head of Public Relations, who  asked us to send him a written request.

[xvii] http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-corruption.htm

[xviii] http://www.transparency.am/corruption.php

[xix] These numbers are not accurate and they are only a fraction of the real number of public administrations in Lebanon.

[xx] http://www.transparency.am/corruption.php

[xxi] http://www.transparency.am/corruption.php

[xxii] Arabic Article in Nowlebanon.com http://www.nowlebanon.com/Arabic/NewsArticleDetails.aspx?ID=30868

[xxiii] Arabic Article in Nowlebanon.com http://www.nowlebanon.com/Arabic/NewsArticleDetails.aspx?ID=30868

[xxiv] http://www.irct.org/Torture-in-the-world-35.aspx

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