Wadih al-Asmar

Mr. Saad Hariri,

Prime Minister, Grand Serail,

Beirut, Lebanon.

Fax: + 961 (0)1-983060

Dear Prime Minister,

I am William Nicholas Gomes, Human rights defender and Freelance journalist.

I am writing to voice my deep concern about the ongoing judicial harassment against human rights defender Wadih Al-Asmar.

Wadih Al-Asmar is the co-founder and President of the Lebanese Centre for Human Rights (CLDH), an organisation which works mainly on prevention of torture and the accountability of perpetrators. He is also co-founder and Secretary-General of both the Franco-Lebanese Movement SOLIDA (Support to Lebanese Detained Arbitrarily) and the Euro Mediterranean Federation against Enforced Disappearance (FEMED). In June 2018, he was elected as the President of EuroMed Rights (the Euro Mediterranean Human Rights Network). In 2015, Wadih Al-Asmar co-founded the Lebanese social and environmentalist movement YouStink which actively participated in organising and supporting many of the protests during the last refuse crisis in Lebanon.

 

According to the information received form (FIDH, the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and Front Line Defenders) , on 31 August 2018, human rights defender Wadih Al-Asmar will appear before the Cyber Crime Bureau of the Lebanese Ministry of Interior for an interrogation related to critical views he expressed on Facebook regarding public policies.

Wadih Al-Asmar is the co-founder and President of the Lebanese Centre for Human Rights (CLDH), an organisation which works mainly on prevention of torture and the accountability of perpetrators. He is also co-founder and Secretary-General of both the Franco-Lebanese Movement SOLIDA (Support to Lebanese Detained Arbitrarily) and the Euro Mediterranean Federation against Enforced Disappearance (FEMED). In June 2018, he was elected as the President of EuroMed Rights (the Euro Mediterranean Human Rights Network). In 2015, Wadih Al-Asmar co-founded the Lebanese social and environmentalist movement YouStink which actively participated in organising and supporting many of the protests during the last refuse crisis in Lebanon.

On 16 August 2018, Wadih Al-Asmar received a call from the Cyber Crime Bureau of the Ministry of Interior, requesting him to appear before the Bureau on 31 August for questioning with regard to posts which he had published on his Facebook account. The human rights defender has regularly published commentaries on human rights and political development in Lebanon on his social media pages.

In 2015, Wadih Al-Asmar appeared before the Court of Publications on charges relating to “defamation and false accusation”. The case was initiated against CLDH based on a complaint filed by the leader of Amal Movement – a Lebanese political party associated with Lebanon’s Shia community – and the Head of the Lebanese Parliament, following the publication of a report by the organisation which denounced allegations of torture perpetrated by members of the Amal Movement. The lawsuit was withdrawn in 2016.

Over the past five years, several human rights defenders, members of civil society, journalists and bloggers have been summoned by the Cyber Crime Bureau for expressing critical views on public policies, politicians and public figures. According to Lebanese human rights groups, the Cyber Crime Bureau summoned at least 39 persons for interrogation since 2016. Some summoned defenders were briefly detained, such as the prominent blogger and human rights defender Immad Bazzi, and many have been charged with “criminal contempt, slander and libel of public officials”. Furthermore, some bloggers have been pressured by the Bureau to sign commitments that they will not tackle certain issues online.

I express my deep  concern at the harassment and intimidation of Wadih Al-Asmar, which I believe is solely motivated by his peaceful and legitimate human rights work.

Actions requested:

Put an end to any act of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Mr. Wadih al-Asmar, and more generally against all human rights defenders in Lebanon;

  1. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Wadih al-Asmar, and respect his right to a fair trial ;
  2. Conform with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, especially its articles 1, 6 (b) and (c), and 12; as well as of the International Convenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), especially its article 19;
  3. More generally, ensure in all circumstances the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Lebanon.

 

Yours sincerely,

William Nicholas Gomes
Journalist and Human Rights Activist
@wnicholasgomes
York, United Kingdom

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.