Several floors under the busy Adlieh intersection in east Beirut, hundreds of people suffer harsh interrogation and torture in a makeshift detention centre.
It is a place unknown to many – thousands of commuters pass over the site every day. But it is a place very much present in the minds of refugees in the city, some of whom have spent time in this underground chamber.
It is this clandestine chamber that IRCT member centre Nassim for the rehabilitation of the victims of torture at the Lebanese Center for Human Rights (CLDH) exposed and campaigned against on this year’s 26 June — the latest call of many to end torture and impunity in Lebanon.
Migrants and refugees remain the main targets of torture and arbitrary detention in Lebanon, and those are the main groups CLDH supports since their establishment in 2006.
CLDH was created by the Franco-Lebanese Movement SOLIDA (Support for Lebanese Detained Arbitrarily), which has been active since 1996 in the struggle against arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance and the impunity of those perpetrating gross human rights violations.
CLDH monitors the human rights situation in Lebanon and through regular press conferences, workshops and advocacy activities, continually reminds the state of their international human rights obligations. The centre also documents cases of torture and human rights violations.
One of the overarching aims of the CLDH team on the ground is to determine exactly what happens to all arrested and missing persons in Lebanon, from the time of arrest to sometimes, unfortunately, their death. By working with the IRCT, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) and the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, these cases are actively monitored and reported.
CLDH’s torture rehabilitation centre opened in 2007, providing multi-disciplinary professional support and case management for victims of torture and their families.
Whether working in clandestine chambers under the ground in east Beirut or on the 7th floor of Bakhos Building, where their office is located, CLDH is an important institution in Beirut and an key element of the fight against torture and human rights abuses in Lebanon.