Earlier this year, the Lebanese Internal Security Forces (ISF) - the country’s primary police force - were the subject of a public relations campaign that inundated Lebanon’s thoroughfares with billboards depicting male and female uniformed ISF officers cradling babies. The images were accompanied by a pledge of devotion to the Lebanese populace.
Driving down the highway, one could not help but feel that there was something very wrong with this picture.
And indeed, a very different picture of the ISF emerges from a 2013 Human Rights Watch (HRW) report entitled “‘It’s part of the job’: Ill-treatment and torture of vulnerable groups in Lebanese police stations.”
The “it’s part of the job” bit is a direct quote from the head of a police station in Beirut, referring to the idea that “it’s normal for a police officer to slap a detainee around”. This analysis was incidentally issued in response to a complaint filed by an HRW researcher regarding harassment and intimidation that she had been subjected to by the ISF.
The report focuses on the particularly abhorrent treatment of persons detained for suspected “immoral” criminal activity such as drug use, sex work, or homosexual behaviour - for whom it appears torture, rape, and humiliation are simply par for the course. Detainees variously describe being beaten, doused with cold water, suspended from the ceiling in painful positions, chained to desks and other items, and having body parts broken. READ MORE AT MIDDLE EAST EYE.