The ICJ filed a submission to the Human Rights Council’s Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review in advance of its review of Lebanon’s human rights record between January and February 2021.
Information provided in the submission was based on a number of recent ICJ publications, including on the independence of the judiciary; military courts; gender-based violence; and a forthcoming publication on the human rights of refugees and migrants in Lebanon.
In the submission, the ICJ drew the attention of the Working Group to the following concerns with respect to Lebanon:
- The independence of the judiciary and the use and jurisdiction of military courts;
- The obstacles that continue to impede women’s and girls’ access to justice for sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV); and
- The inadequate framework and practices undermining migrants’ and refugees’ rights.
The ICJ called on the Working Group and Human Rights Council to urge the Lebanese authorities to take the following actions:
With regard to the independence of the judiciary and the use and jurisdiction of military courts:
- End executive control and undue influence over the judiciary, including by divesting the Minister of Justice of any role in the selection, appointment, promotion, transfer, secondment or any other aspects of the management of the career of judges;
- Ensure that the High Judicial Council is independent from the executive, including by amending its composition to ensure that the majority of members are judges elected by their peers, and that it is pluralistic, gender and minority representative, competent to decide on all issues relating to the career of judges, and empowered to uphold the independence of the judiciary;
- Ensure that military courts have no jurisdiction to try civilians, and that such jurisdiction is restricted to military personnel over alleged breaches of military discipline or ordinary crimes not involving the commission of human rights violations, to the exclusion of human rights violations and crimes under international law.
With regard to women’s access to justice for SGBV:
- Repeal all discriminatory provisions against women, particularly those in the Criminal Code, the Nationality Code and Personal Status Laws;
- Adopt a unified civil Personal Status Law for all religious groups, where all customs discriminating against women and girls are overridden in accordance with article 2(f) of CEDAW; and ensure that issues related to divorce, inheritance and custody are adjudicated before ordinary courts consistent with international standards;
- Amend Law No. 293/2014 on the protection of women and other family members from domestic violence (Law No. 293/14) and the Criminal Code to ensure that it criminalizes all forms of SGBV, including by properly defining rape as a type of sexual assault characterized by a physical invasion of a sexual nature without consent or under coercive circumstances, and ensure that marital and all other acts of rape be criminalized; and, to this end, abolish provisions of Law No. 293/14 providing for a religion-based claim to marital rights;
- Amend the Criminal Code, the Code of Criminal Procedure and Law No. 293/14 to include gender-sensitive investigations and evidence-gathering procedures in order to enable women to report violence against them, and take effective steps to address the social and practical factors that continue to impede women’s access to justice, such as gender-based stereotypes and prejudices that operate in society and in the justice system;
- Remove obstacles related to gender stereotypes, economic and social realities that continue to impede access to justice in SGBV cases, including by ensuring that where law enforcement officers fail to ensure an effective investigation into an incident of SGBV, their omissions be actionable as a breach of their duties and subject to disciplinary measures as appropriate;
- Provide routine capacity building training to justice sector actors on the application of international human rights law, including CEDAW and related jurisprudence.
With regard to the treatment of refugees and migrants:
- Become a party to the 1951 UN Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol, and pass legislation to adequately protect the human rights of refugees, asylum seekers, stateless people and migrants, in compliance with Lebanon’s international obligations;
- Amend the 1962 Law on the Entry, Stay in and Exit from Lebanon (Law 1962) to ensure full compliance with these obligations, and that people entitled to international protection, chiefly refugees, asylum seekers, and stateless individuals, are not penalized, automatically arrested or deported for their “illegal” entry and stay in the country;
- Ensure that no individual is deprived of their liberty solely on the grounds of their immigration status, and, to this end, amend articles 32 and 36 of Law 1962; until then, provide automatic, periodic judicial review of the lawfulness, necessity and proportionality of any immigration-related detention;
- Strictly comply with Lebanon’s non-refoulement obligations, including by ensuring that no individual is transferred to a country where they face a real risk of persecution or other forms of serious harm; that nobody is forcibly returned without an individualized, fair and effective procedure guaranteeing due process; and by establishing a moratorium on all removals to Syria.
Lebanon-UPR Submission-Advocacy-Non Legal submission-2020-ENG (full submission, in PDF)