The Right to Know

Organisation: 
The Committee of the Families of the Kidnapped and Disappeared in Lebanon
Type of Organisation: 
LNGO
Launched in: 
2000
Description: 
The work of The Committee of the Families of the Kidnapped and Disappeared in Lebanon (CFKDL) began in November 1982. During the war and in the light of the sharp sectarian and geographic divisions, the families of victims of kidnapping and enforced disappearance joined forces to push the Lebanese Government to carry out an acceptable scientific investigation process to uncover the fates of all the missing and forcibly disappeared persons. CFKDL launched ?The Right to Know? campaign in 2000 and has been working in collaboration with a network of CSOs and NGOs. Following CFKDLs? efforts, the Lebanese Government formed the Committee of Inquiry in the Fates of the Missing and Forcibly Disappeared (CIFMFD) in 2000 and acknowledged war crimes and the presence of mass graves across the country. CFKDL?s most important achievement to date was winning a lawsuit against the government before the State Council in March 2014, as a consequence, the government was obligated by the State Council?s decision to share with the families of victims a copy of CIFMFD?s findings report without any restriction, derogation, or exception. Before this decision, the Lebanese government had decided to keep this report confidential and considered all missing and forcibly disappeared persons killed during the civil war. In addition, prior to the investigation in 2000, the government attempted to fold this issue and offered legal procedures under Law 434, which families of victims can undertake to reclassify the status of their missing family members as legally deceased without evidence of their death or examination of the whereabouts of their remains. This Law was regarded by the CFKDL as an attempt to buy their silence, ignore their right to know the truth and dismiss the possibility of finding missing Lebanese alive in Syrian or Israeli detention centres. Later reports by further government-appointed Committees of Inquiry focused on cases of detainees in Israel and Syrian detention centres. Even though, civil war mass graves were discussed for the first time in official reports without any reaction from the public. These reports quickly lost credibility after the release of 54 prisoners from Syrian jails in 2000, which suggested the possibility of finding missing and disappeared persons alive in Syrian prisons. Today, CFKDL is working with a network of other NGOs and CSOs on the issue of kidnapping and disappearance to push for a two-fold strategy. At the executive level, the Committee is pushing to launch a process of collection and preservation of DNA samples from the families of the missing and forcibly disappeared to identify the found remains. At the legislative level, they are pushing to pass the Draft Law: for Missing and Forcibly Disappeared Persons, which recognises the right to truth as a natural right for everyone, and includes the establishment of an independent national body with the necessary powers to carry out a detailed tracking and investigation mechanism through an acceptable scientific solution.
Resources: 
ICTJ (2012). law for missing & forcibly disappeared persons. Arab Printing Press, 2012. http://www.actforthedisappeared.com/sites/default/files/Publications/Draft%20Law%20for%20Missing%20and%20Forcibly%20Disappeared%20Persons-2012-EN.pdf
Overall Objective: 
Truth-seeking and right to know
Initiative's Approach: 
Missing persons
Target Group: 
Government Institutions
Geographic Area: 
Nationwide
Status: 
Ongoing