Death of human rights activist who led efforts to uncover fate of Lebanon’s disappeared

Death of human rights activist who led efforts to uncover fate of Lebanon’s disappeared

In response to the death of Ghazi Aad, founder of Support of Lebanese in Detention and Exile (SOLIDE), a human rights organization that has been working for almost three decades to reveal the fates and whereabouts of thousands of people who went missing in Lebanon during and after its war, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Research at the Beirut Regional office, Lynn Maalouf, said:

“For three decades Ghazi Aad dedicated his life to campaigning tirelessly to seek truth, justice and reparation on behalf of victims of abductions and enforced disappearance and their families. His death is a tragic loss. He was at the forefront of a long struggle for national recognition of the right of families of those who were forcibly disappeared or otherwise went missing to know the fate of their loved ones and he played an instrumental role in pushing for progress on this issue.

“In the face of the government’s consistent failure to recognise the existence of the disappeared, Ghazi Aad persisted in demanding the authorities assume their responsibility to investigate and reveal the truth about the fate of those missing. It is a stain on the conscience of the Lebanese authorities that more than 25 years since the end of the war, thousands of families still don’t know what happened to their loved ones.

Thousands of people disappeared during the Lebanese conflict between 1975 and 1990. SOLIDE, set up in 1989, was among the first to highlight the alarming trend of abductions of Lebanese and Palestinian people who were then transferred to Syria, where they were held in prolonged and often secret detention without charge or trial.

In 2008, following intense pressure and lobbying by a number of local NGOS, led by SOLIDE and the Committee of the Families of the Kidnapped and Missing in Lebanon, President Michel Sleiman made a pledge in his inauguration oath to “work hard to release the prisoners and detainees and reveal the fate of missing persons”. In a high profile decision in 2014, the State Shura Council, Lebanon’s highest administrative judicial authority, recognized family members’ “right to know” what happened to their loved ones. However, draft legislation mandating the creation of an independent national commission to investigate disappearances has yet to be passed into law.

“The failure of the Lebanese authorities to take all feasible measures to account for people who went missing because of the armed conflict and to provide their families with any information they have on their fate is a violation of international humanitarian law. Denying family members such information also amounts to cruel and inhuman treatment,” said Lynn Maalouf.

“Today with Ghazi Aad’s sad passing, Amnesty International is reiterating its calls on the Lebanese authorities to put an end to the suffering of families who for years have been left in limbo. They must urgently establish a commission with the mandate, powers and legitimacy to bring national recognition to the plight of thousands of families in Lebanon.”