Amnesty International condemns Lebanon’s use of French weapons to suppress peaceful demonstrations

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On Thursday, Amnesty International urged Paris to suspend the export of lawless weapons to Beirut unless it pledges to use them in line with international law, stressing that the Lebanese security services have used French-made weapons to suppress peaceful demonstrators.

“France has for years been providing the Lebanese security forces with law enforcement equipment that they have used to commit or facilitate the commission of serious human rights violations,” said arms control advocacy official Emeric Elwyn in the French branch of Amnesty International.

The French authorities confirmed Thursday that these exports are subject to “strict control and scrutiny on each case separately, in line with international obligations.”

“This is the case especially for Lebanon, which is going through a serious economic, social and political crisis, and whose stability is essential for the whole region,” a spokeswoman for the French Foreign Ministry said, noting France’s adherence to “respecting the right to demonstrate.”

Paris is providing support to the Lebanese army and the Lebanese internal security forces “to enable them to preserve the sovereignty, independence and stability of Lebanon,” the spokeswoman added.

Amnesty International’s Crisis Evidence Lab and Digital Verification Authority have verified 101 video clips of protests that erupted in the summer of 2015 out of outrage at the mismanagement of the country’s waste crisis, and of the unprecedented demonstrations in Lebanon starting on 17 October 2019 protesting the economic collapse and the failure of class Political affairs in running the country’s affairs.

The organization spoke of a “disgraceful role” played by French weapons. It reported that “no less than a thousand protesters were injured due to the unlawful use of force by the Lebanese security forces, which in many cases used French law enforcement weapons, including chemical irritants such as tear gas, and kinetic projectiles such as rubber bullets.” And associated bombers. ”

“The French authorities must inform the Lebanese security forces that they will not be able to resume exports unless they demonstrate that this equipment is being used in compliance with international law and standards on the use of force and the right to freedom of peaceful assembly,” said Elwyn.

He added, “One way to demonstrate this is to demonstrate full accountability for past violations, and to provide adequate compensation to victims of violations.”

The organization documented that, over the past year, security forces “fired tear gas canisters directly at protesters – this is an extremely illegal and dangerous practice. They also fired them from a moving vehicle, making it impossible to control their firing.” This caused “serious head and upper body injuries among the protesters.”

The organization condemned the work of the Lebanese security forces “in a climate of impunity.” And she asserted that “no effective investigation has been conducted into the illegal use of weapons, including those made in France, against peaceful protesters, and no member of the security forces has been held accountable by the judicial authorities.”

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