mardi 1 juillet 2008


General Michel Sleiman
President of the Republic of Lebanon

Fax Transmittal: +961-5-922400

July 1, 2008

Dear Mr. President,

The International Federation of Human Rights Leagues (FIDH) and the World Organization Against Torture (OMCT) wish to draw your attention to the case of Mr. Youssef Chaabane, who has been in detention at the Central Prison of Roumieh for more than 14 years as a result of a judicial process that was not in compliance with Lebanon’s international commitments.

Following his arrest in the course of an investigation into the murder of Mr. Maaitha, a Jordanian diplomat who was killed in Beirut in 1994, Youssef Chaabane’s conviction on October 19, 1994 by Lebanon’s Justice Council was exclusively based on confessions obtained under torture. Mr. Chaabane has continued to proclaim his innocence in this crime in which two individuals were sentenced to death and executed in Jordan.

In May 2007, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention stated that, in the case of Mr. Chaabane, “to be sentenced to capital punishment, even when such a sentence is commuted to life in prison, without the individual having the ability to have his guilty finding and conviction examined by a higher jurisdiction, is itself a very egregious breach of the standards of a fair trial.”[1] The Working Group furthermore found, “…that the breach of Paragraph 5 of Article 14[2] of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights[3] is of such grave nature that it confers to Mr. Chaabane’s detention an arbitrary character.” Moreover, this past April, the Human Rights Commission of Lebanon’s Parliament issued a call for a re-trial of Youssef Chaabane’s case.

In your capacity as the custodian of the Lebanese Constitution, which declares Lebanon’s adherence to the United Nations Organization and the commitment of the country to uphold the UN charters whose precedence over domestic law is guaranteed under Lebanese law[4], our organizations urgently request that you do everything in your power to guarantee that Mr. Youssef Chaabane’s basic rights are upheld. In particular, we urge you to ensure that the relevant Lebanese authorities act in conformity with Lebanon’s international commitments, namely that Mr. Youssef Chaabane’s case be re-tried without further delay, absent which he should be released since his detention and conviction are arbitrary.

We trust that your Excellency will give this request all the attention that it deserves.

Sincerely Yours,

Souhayr Belhassen Eric Sottas
FIDH President OMCT General Secretary

[1] Opinion No. 10/2007 adopted in May 2007 by the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.
[2] Paragraph 5 of Article 14 stipulates that “Any person declared guilty of an offense has the right to have the declaration of guilt and the conviction examined by a higher jurisdiction, in accordance with the law.”
[3] Lebanon is a signatory party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
[4] Specifically by Article 2 of the Code of Civil Procedures.