This report is based on 52 interviews with people arrested for suspected drug use, sex work, or homosexuality. The interviews were conducted in person in Beirut, Baabda, Tripoli, Zahleh, and Saida between February and July 2012. Most of the interviews were conducted after the release of the detainees, with the exception of 19 women arrested for sex work or drug use, who were interviewed while in pre-trial detention in Baabda women’s prison. The interviewees were almost evenly split between men and women, and their ages ranged from the early twenties to the late forties. The time period of the arrests ranges from 2007 to 2012.
Interviewees were identified through non-governmental organizations working with drug users, sex workers, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals, in addition to human rights groups working on issues of torture.
The interviews were conducted one on one in private settings in Arabic by the lead project researcher, assisted by Human Rights Watch interns.
Human Rights Watch gave no incentives to interviewees to participate and took care to avoid re-traumatization. Interviewees all gave their consent to have their stories used for this report while maintaining their anonymity and confidentiality. Where needed, researchers referred individuals to other resources.
We also interviewed one official in the ISF, two forensic doctors working with the ISF, three lawyers representing the detainees, judges and lawyers active in advocacy against police torture and mistreatment, and NGOs working with the target groups in this report, such as Skoun, Kafa, The Legal Agenda, and Dar el Amal. In addition we also met with representatives from donor countries that have substantial ISF assistance programs, specifically the US, the UK, and EU.
We have used pseudonyms for all the victims we spoke to, and in some cases have withheld additional identifying information to protect their privacy and safety.