Act for Human Rights published its annual report on the most critical challenges and developments to human rights in Lebanon in 2018. Dr. Elie Abou Aoun, ALEF’s Secretary General, highlighted some positive, although delayed, steps which were taken by Lebanese authorities promoting in human rights. These included holding the Parliamentary elections in May, which helped restore activity in state institutions, especially since the Parliament had extended its own mandate twice. On the international level, Lebanon submitted a report to the International Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, and follow-up reports to the Committee Against Torture and the Committee for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. Lebanon also passed legislation ordering the creation of the National Mechanism for Reporting and Follow-up (NMRF) and gave it the jurisdiction to represent the government in communicating with international and regional human rights bodies.
“In spite of these advancements, Lebanon still failed to uphold its human rights obligations, and continued to employ security-centered and short-term approaches in addressing several challenges,” said George Ghali, Executive Director of the organization. “With a judicial system that continues to overlook many international human rights standards, practices of arbitrary detention and unfair trials were attributed to preserving the country’s security.” Despite wide media coverage of violations to the law criminalizing torture, the Lebanese judiciary completely failed to implement it in 2018. The Syrian refugee crisis has also been dealt with from a security perspective, with deteriorating conditions of displacement which encourage impunity and overlook protection needs. Such practices will only add to the security threat as it widens the gap between refugees and host communities.
The report also shed light on the international community’s shortcomings in providing support in terms of demographic burden- sharing of refugees, as well as in providing economic support (almost two-thirds of Lebanon’s funding required to provide adequate support to Syrian refugees in Lebanon were not met). The report brought forward the situation of migrant workers in Lebanon, in light of the widespread violations and poor protection frameworks aggravated by the flawed and inappropriate sponsorship system. The report also describes threats to the right to life, especially considering that death sentences continued to be issued by criminal courts, and by the Military Tribunal for which 34 were handed down in absentia. The freedom of conscience and expression faced continued restrictions by way of censorship in the media, and delays or revocations in the notification process for organizations.
This is added to the persistent suppression of unrecognized religious communities. The report concludes that there is still no effective political will to address fundamental issues that cause recurring violations to basic rights and freedoms, including gender equality, freedom of expression, refugee protection, enforced disappearance, labor, and fair trial rights.