The Lebanese Center for Human Rights (CLDH) is a local non-profit, non-partisan Lebanese human rights organization in Beirut that was established by the Franco-Lebanese Movement SOLIDA (Support for Lebanese Detained Arbitrarily) in 2006. SOLIDA has been active since 1996 in the struggle against arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance and the impunity of those perpetrating gross human violations.

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August 30, 2008

Joint Press Release

We, the undersigned organizations, are local and international human rights organizations working on enforced disappearances and missing persons in Lebanon.

We would like to welcome the new government’s pledge in its ministerial declaration to address the issue of the disappeared and missing persons in Lebanon, including those abducted from Lebanon and suspected of being detained beyond the Lebanese borders, and to ratify the International Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearances.

The paragraphs in the ministerial declaration that address the issue are a long awaited official acknowledgement of the right of relatives to know the fate of their loved ones, in compliance with international human rights principles.

To translate the government’s pledge into action, we recommend that the government undertake the following steps:

- Form an independent national commission according to international standards and consisting of representatives of the victims’ families, civil society groups working on disappearances, independent judges, parliamentarians, government representatives, and international organizations with experience working on the issue of disappearances, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross. The commission’s mandate will be to resolve the issue of the missing and the disappeared, in Lebanon and those abducted from Lebanon and suspected of being detained beyond the Lebanese borders, in a way that promotes the rights of the victims and their families regardless of their nationality;

- Include the issue of the missing, disappeared and arbitrarily detained in Lebanon and beyond its borders on the agenda of the upcoming national dialogue to be chaired by President Suleiman in order to advance discussions amongst politicians on how best to address this painful issue in a comprehensive, transparent and systematic way;

- Recognize the failure of the current joint Syrian-Lebanese committee after three years of work and and seek to form the independent national commission as soon as possible, and provide it with broad powers to conduct serious investigations. In particular, the new commission should have the power to (i) seek information from intelligence and security agencies as well as all institutions with archives or information on missing individuals or the location of mass graves, (ii) gather information from former militia leaders and members who may have transferred detainees to Syrian or Israeli security services. The commission should regularly update the families of the disappeared about the progress of its work and findings and make these findings available to the public;

- Undertake immediate steps to ratify the United Nations Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances, which promotes the rights of victims in a comprehensive way, and amend Lebanese law to confirm to the Convention.

We hold the hope that this will be the first step towards a joint national effort, whereby the state and civil society will work hand in hand towards bringing closure to the suffering of thousands of families that are still waiting to know the truth about the fate of their relatives who have disappeared or gone missing. Only when the full truth is known will the dignity of the victims and their families be restored and Lebanese society able to deal with the burden of the past and achieve true national reconciliation.

The organizations that have signed this statement are:

- SOLIDE (Support of Lebanese in Detention and Exile)
- Committee of Relatives of the Detained and Disappeared in Lebanon
- Centre Libanais des Droits Humains (CLDH)
- Human Rights Watch
- Al-Khiam Center for the Rehabilitation of the Victims of Torture
- Association pour la Defense des Droits et des Libertes (ADDL)
- Association Libanaise pour la Promotion Humaine et l’alphabétisation (ALPHA)
- Springhints
- Leftist Assembly for Change
- UMAM Documentation & Research
- Association Libanaise pour l'Education et la Formation (ALEF)
- Association Libanaise des Droits de l’Homme (ALDHOM)
- Offre Joie
- al-Karama.

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