Putting an end to anal testing in Lebanon – The role of LebMASH

Summary:

In 2012, an initial partial ban on anal testing was issued. However, there were multiple reports that showed that anal testing continued to take place despite the ban. LebMASH played a significant role in cementing the ban on anal testing in 2014 through raising public awareness on the issue and lobbying with the Lebanese Order of Physicians and putting pressure on the Lebanese government.

Timeline

2012
Human Rights Watch brings attention to the issue:

The head of the Lebanese Doctor’s Syndicate, Dr. Sharaf Abu Sharaf, issued a directive on August 8, 2012 calling for an end to anal examinations, stating that they are medically and scientifically useless in determining whether consensual anal sex has taken place and that they constitute a form of torture. He added that they also violate article 30 of the Lebanese law on medical ethics, which prohibits doctors from engaging in harmful practices.

The tests also violate international standards against torture, including the Convention Against Torture and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Lebanon has ratified. The U.N. Committee Against Torture, in its 2002 review of Egypt, investigated the issue of forensic anal examinations and called on the government “to prevent all degrading treatment on the occasion of body searches.”

In a statement given to the Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar on August 2, Justice Minister Shakib Qortbawi said that he had two months earlier written Attorney General Said Mirza urging him “to halt random rectal examination procedures, after the issue was raised by human rights organizations.” However, the attorney general’s subsequent directive, the text of which Legal Agenda, a Lebanese rights organization, published on August 7, contradicts the Minister’s statement to Al-Akhbar.

Far from ordering an end to the procedures, the attorney general’s directive in fact institutionalized them further, instructing public prosecutors to order the anal examination be carried out only “with the consent of the accused, according to standard medical procedures, and in a manner that does not cause significant harm.” The directive added that if the accused refused to undergo the examination, he should be informed that his refusal “constitutes proof of the crime.”

July 2014
Legal Agenda reports that anal tests are still happening

July 2014
LebMASH releases position statement on anal tests.

Aug 2014
LebMASH meets with LOP president Dr. Boustani to voice concerns over anal tests and urge LOP to reaffirm its position on banning anal tests and ensure that forensic doctors are not allowed to perform these test.

LebMASH offered to conduct sensitivity training workshops to Forensic doctors to explain the harms of anal testing.
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October 2014
LebMASH sends a letter to Prime Minister Tamam Salam to urge him to put an end to anal tests. For more info, click here.

No further anal testing reported after that in Lebanon.