Lebanon must investigate torture claims by actor Ziad Itani, HRW says

Ziad Itani, a Lebanese stage actor, who was indicted on charges of collaborating with Israel and drug possession, shouts as he speaks with journalists after he was released by Lebanese authorities, at his house, in Beirut. (AP)
Updated 16 July 2018
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Lebanon must investigate torture claims by actor Ziad Itani, HRW says

  • Watchdog said case of Ziad Itani is test for whether the law criminalizing torture will end impunity for security officials
  • Lebanon’s public prosecutor said he has received no formal complaints

BEIRUT: The New York-based Human Rights Watch is calling on Lebanese authorities to investigate allegations of torture made by a well-known actor who was detained and later exonerated of charges of spying for Israel.
The watchdog said Monday the case of Ziad Itani is a test for whether the law criminalizing torture, passed in November, will end impunity for security officials.
Bassam Khawaja, a HRW researcher, said Itani’s case “was extremely disturbing.” Itani alleges he was framed, held incommunicado for days during which he was tortured and threatened with violence against his family. The allegations against Itani were then leaked to the media to further pressure him, Khawaja said.
Itani was exonerated in March, nearly four months after he was detained.
Lebanon’s public prosecutor said he has received no formal complaints.


UN calls on Libya to crack down on violent militias

Khalifa Haftar. (Supplied)
Updated 21 August 2018
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UN calls on Libya to crack down on violent militias

  • Libya remains divided between the UN-backed GNA in Tripoli and a rival administration in the east supported by military strongman Khalifa Haftar
  • Tripoli office to a more “secure” location after threats from militiamen against its employees

TRIPOLI: The UN has called on Libya’s internationally recognized government to crack down on armed groups obstructing the work of state institutions in the chaos-wracked country.
The UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) late on Sunday night expressed its “strong condemnation of the violence, intimidation and obstruction to the work of Libya’s sovereign institutions by militiamen.”
It called on the UN-backed Government of National Accord to “prosecute those responsible for these criminal actions.”
The GNA’s military and security institutions have failed to place limits on the powerful militias that sprung up in the turmoil that followed the 2011 ouster of dictator Muammar Qaddafi.
Several state institutions, including those in Tripoli, have been regular targets of harassment and intimidation by armed groups technically operating under the GNA’s Interior Ministry.
Members of militias “nominally acting under the Ministry of Interior of the Government of National Accord are attacking sovereign institutions and preventing them from being able to operate effectively,” UNSMIL said.
Last week, the GNA’s National Oil Corp. said men from the Interior Ministry had forced their way into the headquarters of Brega Petroleum Marketing Company — a distribution outfit — to “arrest” its chief.
The Libyan Investment Authority, the GNA-managed sovereign wealth fund, recently moved from its downtown Tripoli office to a more “secure” location after threats from militiamen against its employees.
UNSMIL said it would work with the international community and the GNA to “investigate the possibility of bringing sanctions against those interfering with or threatening the operations of any sovereign institution.”
Libya remains divided between the UN-backed GNA in Tripoli and a rival administration in the east supported by military strongman Khalifa Haftar.
A myriad of militias,terrorist groups and people traffickers have taken advantage of the chaos to gain a foothold in the North African country.