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No human rights progress in Lebanon since 2015, says HRW

August 4, 2020 at 1:28 pm

Lebanese army soldiers advance as protesters throw stones amid overnight confrontations in Lebanon’s northern city of Tripoli on April 28, 2020 [IBRAHIM CHALHOUB/AFP via Getty Images]

Lebanon has failed to make positive progress on human rights issues since 2015, a new report by Human Rights Watch (HRW) says.

The publication, which was submitted to the United Human Rights Council, is part of a precursor to next year’s universal periodic review and claims Lebanese authorities have failed to make progress on recommendations which surfaced in the country’s last review, in 2015.

These included allowing freedom of assembly and freedom of expression, preventing torture and ill treatment of detainees and advancing women’s, refugees’ and migrant workers’ rights.

Though Lebanon, HRW says, has consistently supported recommendations to improve the human rights situation in the country, authorities have failed to enforce the measures.

Despite supporting recommendations to protect peaceful protesters, Lebanon’s security forces have acted with excessive force and impunity in recent months, arbitrarily attacking demonstrators with water cannons, tear gas, rubber bullets and in some instances, live ammunition, according to the HRW report.

Meanwhile, though Lebanon criminalised torture in a 2017 anti-torture law, the practice remains prevalent, but perpetrators continually escape being held to account.

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Lebanon has continued to  criminalise same-sex relations, women are still unable to pass their citizenship on to their children and Syrian and Palestinian refugees have been barred from achieving legal status while facing often arbitrary restrictions on employment and ownership of property.

“Lebanon’s people are being robbed of basic rights every day while politicians squabble over the size of the country’s financial losses and hamper efforts at reform”, Lebanon researcher for HRW, Aya Majzoub was quoted as saying.

“Lebanon should commit to undertaking the difficult but long-overdue reforms that will put its economy back on track and ensure that all residents have access to health care and education.”

The HRW report, however, noted Lebanon had achieved one positive by passing a law in November 2018 to establish an independent national commission to investigate the disappearance of 17,000 individuals during the country’s 15-year-long civil war. However, nominations for members of the commission have yet to be approved by Lebanon’s cabinet.

The HRW report later details a series of recommendations for the Lebanese government to improve the human rights situation while gearing up for the country’s universal periodic review, scheduled for January 2021.

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