Another day, another kidnapping: Lebanon's "nuisance" crime
In some countries kidnapping is considered a crime equal to murder in terms of punishment, but in Lebanon it appears the authorities view it as little more than a nuisance.
This weekend it was revealed that the Internal Security Forces, the Army and General Security have compiled a report that blames most of the country’s recent kidnappings on a handful of gangs across the country, noting that the names of 37 members of these groups are known.
During the Civil War, kidnappings were a common occurrence, but this was a time with no central government and no security forces, and the country was run by militias. Abductions were largely carried out for political reasons.
Over the last two years, the resurgence in kidnappings has brought back one of the worst nightmares of the war period. Though abductions once targeted political players, today it appears no one is immune, and a sense of fear prevails.
The latest kidnapping, of a 12-year-old boy in Beirut, shows yet again that no one is safe. Men, women; the elderly, children; Lebanese and foreigners; business executives and migrant workers – it doesn’t matter who you are.
The phenomenon, which is feeding an atmosphere of insecurity and fragility in the country, has become a lucrative trade, and the culprits clearly have no fear of punishment, operating audaciously.
The report also highlights that some of the gangs known to be involved have branches in Beirut’s southern suburbs. It is therefore essential that Hezbollah and Amal speak out about this. As several mediations have in the past been held under the auspices of Hezbollah and Amal, it seems likely the parties have some degree of knowledge of some of those responsible.
Therefore it is necessary for all political factions to lift the cover off these gangs in order for the authorities to rid the society of their evil.
It also seems an inescapable reality that those within the top ranks of government have had detailed information on the perpetrators of these despicable crimes, apparently even colluding with the culprits. This sort of corruption is yet another indicator that Lebanon qualifies as a failed state. It is one thing not to have the resources to investigate such crimes, but to have the knowledge, and still sit idly by, is unspeakable.
This lack of respect for the lives of the country’s citizens speaks volumes about the state of the government today. If these crimes are allowed to continue, with no one ever held accountable, members of the population will remain beholden to their fears over their own security of and that of their family members.
Cracking down on these kidnappings will be no easy task. But if it does not happen it could prove to be the final nail in the coffin of this government, and consequently the state. It is imperative for Parliament to introduce the harshest of laws to curb this epidemic.
Do you think authorities need to take kidnappings more seriously? How should Lebanon crack down on this crime? Share your comments with us below!