In a memorandum published today, the ICJ urged the Lebanese authorities to introduce comprehensive legal reforms to ensure the independence and impartiality of military courts and to restrict their jurisdiction to cases involving members of the military for alleged breaches of military discipline.
The country should transfer the competence of military courts to civilian, ordinary courts in all cases involving civilians and all cases involving human rights violations and non-military offences committed by members of security and armed forces, the ICJ added.
“Lebanese military courts have a long history of prosecuting civilians, including those critical of the military and the government, in trials that fall short of international standards,” said Said Benarbia, ICJ MENA Director.
“Lebanese authorities must prohibit military courts from exercising jurisdiction over civilians, even where the target or victim of the offence is military, as well as over all persons under the age of 18, with no exceptions,” he added.
The ICJ also called for legal and institutional reforms to be introduced with a view to ensuring the independence and impartially of military courts and the fairness of their procedures, including by ensuring that the selection, appointment, transfer and evaluation of military judges are based on transparent procedures and objective criteria, and that any disciplinary action against them is only pursuant to well-defined standards and respectful of all due process guarantees.
In the memorandum, the ICJ formulates recommendations for amending the Code of Military Justice with a view to enhancing due process guarantees, including by providing that individuals convicted by military courts have the right to appeal their conviction and sentence to the civilian courts of the ordinary court system, and that the nature of the review is to be substantive and based both on sufficiency of the evidence and of the law and to allow for due consideration of the nature of the case.
“Limiting the jurisdiction of the military courts and enhancing their independence and impartiality and the fairness of their procedures is required not only to establish and uphold judicial independence, but also to restore public faith and confidence in the integrity of the Lebanese justice system,” said Benarbia.
Rola Assi, Associate Legal Adviser, ICJ MENA Programme, t: +96170821670 ; e: rola.assi(a)icj.org
Lebanon-Memo re army courts-Advocacy-Analysis Brief-2018-ENG (full memo in English)
Lebanon-military courts memo launch-News-2018-ARA (full story in Arabic)
Lebanon-Memo re army courts-Advocacy-Analysis Brief-2018-ARA (full memo in Arabic)