Lebanon: Egyptian refugee dies in Rashaya prison under unclear circumstances

Lebanon: Egyptian refugee dies in Rashaya prison under unclear circumstances

On the morning of 25 January 2010, local newspapers in Lebanon reported news of the death of an UNHCR-recognized Egyptian refugee by the name of Mahmoud Salama (56) in Rashaya prison on 23 January 2010. He died after suffering a heart attack according to security reports.

Several human rights organizations were heavily shocked by this tragic news. Between 2007 and 2010 there have been more than 40 deaths of detainees under extraordinary circumstances, the majority of which either suffered from serious illness or the cause of their deaths remained unknown. Mahmoud Salama was suffering from hypertension and diabetes and it seems that he never received the proper treatment for his medical condition.

Mahmoud Salama was arrested for the third time on 18 August 2009 under the pretext of having covertly entered Lebanon. He was sentenced to one month imprisonment, including a fine and deportation to Egypt. However, he remained in detention until his death, after refusing to be deported to Egypt, for fear of his life. He consequently resorted to a hunger strike more than once, the first of which began on 1 September 2009 in protest being detained for a second time. His second hunger strike began on 19 September 2009 in protest of his continued arbitrary detention, however state authorities never responded to his strikes.

Several human rights organizations, including Alkarama, have issued a common press release in which they demand that the Lebanese authorities commence an immediate public investigation into the causes and circumstances surrounding Mahmoud Salama’s death, and therefore all deaths in prisons and detention centers throughout Lebanon. They also demand that all detainees (foreigners included) receive the appropriate health care in accordance with Lebanese domestic law and the international standards for detention. In addition to this, the organizations express their deepest regrets for the continued practice of arbitrary detention in Lebanon, which, in addition to being illegal, is in many cases is aggravated by the ill-treatment inflicted on the detainees.

The following organisations have signed this press release:

Alkarama for Human Rights / Frontiers Entrepreneurs Association / Restart Center / Lebanese Center for Human Rights / Khaim Center for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Torture