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Myra Abdallah

Arrested for reporting rape in Lebanese detention center

Layal al-Kayaje was arrested by the Lebanese army after telling NOW in a previous interview that she was raped in an army intelligence detention center.

Layal al-Kayaje. (image via www.sma-syria.com)

Layal al-Kayaje, an employee at a veterinary clinic in Saida, was first summoned for investigation by the Lebanese army in 2013 as Sheikh Ahmad al-Assir—who was recently arrested in Beirut attempting to flee the country—rose to prominence. She was accused of supporting the extremist Sunni sheikh against the Lebanese Armed Forces because she had posted messages of support for the cleric on Facebook and because many of her shop’s customers were also his followers. She was arrested for five days.

 

In August, Layal told NOW her story—using “Amar” as a fake name—that was published on September 4, 2015. During her detention in the Lebanese army’s intelligence branch in Rihaniyyeh she said she was tortured, raped and sodomized (for Layal’s full story click here).

 

NOW chose not to reveal Layal’s identity at the time in order to protect her in case her allegations were true. Regardless, Lebanese authorities were able to uncover who she was and on September 21 she was summoned for investigation to the same institution she had been held two years before. She was re-arrested and her lawyer and family have not been allowed to see her. 

 

On September 22, the Lebanese army issued a statement claiming that Layal confessed to having lied about her rape in order to raise sympathy for herself and find a job opportunity. Layal was arrested alongside Insaf al-Yaman, a Lebanese woman who also reported being raped in one of the country’s detention centers.

 

NOW as well as several human rights organizations in Lebanon have concerns over the conditions of Layal’s detention, including the fact that she was not permitted to contact her lawyer and was summoned to the same institution whose employees she had accused of abuse.

 

Below is the statement issued by the group of organizations that is following up on her case:

 

The signatory organizations call upon the Lebanese judiciary to act on the case of Layal al-Kayaje, a veterinary clinic employee from Saida, who was summoned for investigation on September 21, 2015 by Lebanese army intelligence in Saida, Lebanon, following her statements on alleged torture and rape during detention.

 

Layal was summoned for investigation two weeks after NOW News published a report on her alleged rape and torture during detention.  According to the article, Layal stated that she was arrested for five days in 2013 at the Ministry of Justice and Rihaniyyeh, where she was not allowed access to a lawyer or contact with her family. Layal also affirmed being raped by her investigators.

 

Layal notified NGOs on September 21 that she had been summoned to the Lebanese army intelligence branch in Saida. Both her family and the human rights organizations were unable to receive any answers about her whereabouts. Such acts fall under incommunicado detention since authorities have actively concealed information regarding Layal’s detention, and in so doing effectively deprived her of her right of access to a lawyer to challenge the arrest or detention before an independent judicial authority. Layal was also forbidden to contact her family.

 

Coercively denying a detainee communication with the outside world is not only a violation of Lebanese laws but would also amount to a violation of international human rights law guarantees protecting the liberty and dignity of a suspect. On the evening of September 22, a statement by the military command reported that her summon on September 21 is justified under charges of defamation and libel against the Lebanese army.

 

The signatory organizations call on the judicial authorities to open impartial and independent investigations with regard to the detention of Layal and previous allegations of torture and hold those responsible criminally accountable. The signatory organizations stress that investigations and proceedings have to be conducted by an independent and impartial judicial authority. All charges brought against Layal must be conducted respecting the guarantees of fair trial promulgated by national and international legal obligations.

 

The signatory organizations

 

ALEF – Act for Human Rights

ALK- Alkarama Foundation

Badael Alternatives

Lebanese Institute for Democracy and Human Rights – LIFE

 

Myra Abdallah tweets @myraabdallah

Layal al-Kayaje. (image via www.sma-syria.com)

Layal was arrested alongside Insaf Al-Yaman, another Lebanese woman who also reported being raped in one of the country’s detention center.