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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April 20, 2015

The Daily Star - Activists summoned over migrant worker row, April 20, 2015

Nizar Hassan

Lebanon’s General Security Monday interrogated an activist who campaigns against the deportation of the children of migrant workers, while a second received a summons to appear for questioning Tuesday.

“This morning, a General Security unit arrived at our office asking for Chantale Hrairy,” Charles Nasrallah, president of Insan Association, told The Daily Star.

“When they met her, they asked her to come with them to the General Security office. She was surprised, saying her responsibilities were limited to administrative tasks and that she had nothing to do with the cases.”

A General Security spokesperson confirmed to The Daily Star that the woman had been questioned and released Monday. He did not reveal details of the case.

They told her they had an authorization from the State Prosecution Office, and showed her the transcript of investigations that stated that Hrairy and Nasrallah were to be interrogated.

The investigations relate to the case of Suzanna Kumar, a 14-year-old Sri Lankan girl who is the daughter of a migrant couple who has been working in Lebanon since 2000.

Last month, Lebanese authorities denied Kumar and her mother Renuka Irangani from residency renewal, justifying the decision by the fact that Kumar was born in Lebanon, which they said violated a law.

Irangani and Suzanna’s father, Jagdish Kumar, were both detained on April 8 over the matter.

In mid-March, General Security asked father to come in with his wife to be handed a renewed residency.

“Renuka’s employers told her not to go because it sounded suspicious, but she insisted, thinking she would actually receive her residency,” Nasrallah explained. “The next thing to happen was that we received a call from Renuka saying she was detained with her husband, and giving us directions to reach her daughter.”

The couple has since remained in the custory of General Security at a controversial center at the Adlieh roundabout, which is known to be overcrowded and lack sunlight, Nasrallah said.

After the incident, Insan was granted the right to Suzanna's custody by the Juvenile Court, Nasrallah explained.

“Suzanna is with us, and the judgment from the Juvenile Court forbids us to give Suzanna to anyone unless by a ruling from the court itself,” Nasrallah said in the phone interview. “If General Security insists on taking her they need a court decision.”

Insan's members were startled by Monday’s brief detention of Hrairy.

“When they left the building, a General Security officer called the association and told us they would not release Hrairy until Suzanna Kumar is handed over,” he said.

But Hrairy was released after several hours of interrogation.

State Prosecution Officer Claude Karam, who gave the order for the interrogation, told Nasrallah by phone that arresting Hrairy was illicit, and that after she gives her testimony, she could leave.

The investigator then called Nasrallah and made a deal with him that Hrairy would be released if Nasrallah went in for interrogation.

After a dozen calls, Nasrallah signed a summons request stating that he would be interrogated on Tuesday morning.

Nasrallah expects “harsh interrogation” until he submits to pressure and turn Suzanna in, which he says would never do.

Meanwile, the parents remain in detention for ambiguous reasons. Although a court decision stated last Thursday that Irangani ought to be deported within 48 hours, a later decision came Monday morning by Urgent Matters Judge Jad Maalouf.

For Insan, Irangani’s arrest was “an act of retaliation against her outspoken stance on General Security’s non-renewal of residence permits for children of migrant workers.”

Maalouf’s decision stopped the deportation decision based on Insan’s request and on the fact that Irangani and Kumar were not married in Lebanon, but in India, which means they did not violate Lebanese laws.

In the duration between the decision to deny her daughter residency renewal and her detention, Irangani made several TV appearances to raise awareness of the issue.

According to the group, General Security had previously told Irangani that she was in Lebanon “to work, not to have children,” ordering her to send her daughter out of Lebanon.

The woman refused to do so and spoke to media explicitly about her case.

Since her detention, Irangani was also “denied the right to meet with her lawyer or any other representative from Insan Association,” the group said in a statement earlier this month.

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