Over the past few years, a number of ways to address the issue of the Missing and the Disappeared in Lebanon have been developed and put forth:
Conduct serious investigations to gather information about those who are believed to have been handed over to Syria or Israel and take the necessary steps in view of securing the release of persons who are alive and the return of remains of those who are deceased.
Create an exhaustive list of the disappeared and a national file of the families of the disappeared (including Biological Reference Samples) in order to prepare the ground for undertaking the identification of remains exhumed.
Locate sites of mass and individual graves across the Lebanese territory; ensure their protection until they are opened, and exhume any remains found; carry out the identification of these remains in order to return them to their families, for a dignified and rightful burial.
Yet this goal is increasingly out of reach because we are losing information with every passing day. Key witnesses are growing old and passing away, while ongoing construction work in the country continues to destroy key physical evidence.
In 2012, a consortium of civil society organizations, including ACT for the Disappeared, proposed a draft law to the Lebanese Parliament for the creation of a national investigative entity to clarify the fate and whereabouts of the missing and forcibly disappeared. The bill is still pending, due mainly to lack of political will.
This is why we believe there is a critical need to act now. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) fully appreciated the urgent nature of the situation and, in 2012, began collecting “ante disappearance data” and Biological Reference Sample (BRS) from the families of the missing to help identify human remains from the sites of graves once these are exhumed. The ICRC has undertaken to hand over all ADD and BRS data that is collected (and is being stored in a secure and confidential manner) to any future national commission established to clarify the fate of missing persons in Lebanon.
In 2014, to complement these efforts and to ensure the protection of the graves and of information related to what may have happened to the missing, ACT, in coordination with the ICRC, began its investigative project.