Montreal, Canada - Augut 21, 2003

Anti-Corruption and Human Rights Activist arbitrary detained in Lebanon

On the 8th of August 2003, Lebanese police arrested Dr. Muhamed Mughraby on apparently politically motivated charges of "impersonating a lawyer".

Dr. Mughraby, lawyer and Human Rights activist in Lebanon, was held in a prison at the Justice Palace for several days, before his transfer to Roumieh prison. He was allegedly accused of illegally practicing law. 

According to the Legal Practice Organizational Code in Lebanon, a lawyer is penalized if he continues practicing, only after an irrevocable (mubram) decision barring him from such practice. In the present case, no such decision apparently exists against Dr. Mughrabi, which makes his arrest illegal and violates the Presumption of Innocence principle as stipulated in article 11 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. 

Furthermore, credible sources reported that several members of his law firm assisting in his defence were apparently threatened not to represent him, otherwise they risk disciplinary actions against them. His prison conditions are inhuman. He is not allowed to meet in private with his associates at the detention centre, or exchange any documents with them without the prosecutor's prior approval. This violates the basic rights of defence according to Article 7 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that stipulates: 

"All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination". 

RCPL is concerned about the detention of Dr. Mughraby. There are reasons to believe that his arrest and intimidation are politically motivated, especially that Dr. Mughraby is a well known human rights activist and a foe of corruption in the judiciary system in Lebanon. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have both denounced his arrest and requested an immediate release.

RCPL urges the Canadian officials to publicly condemn the detention of Dr. Mughraby, and pressure their Lebanese counterparts for his immediate and unconditional release. 

RCPL urges the Lebanese authorities in Beirut, to immediately release Dr. Mughraby and respect his rights as  guaranteed by the International Declaration of Human Rights to which Lebanon is signatory. 

RCPL strongly urges the Lebanese government to refer to the rule of law, in order to fight corruption and brighten the image of the Lebanese judiciary system. 

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