Since 2005, Lebanon has been experiencing increased political instability. While the overall level of human rights protection has improved, this improvement depends on the political priorities of individual ministers rather than coherent policy decisions. It is also frequently affected by armed conflicts and clashes. There are reports of political interference in the judicial process, and unconstitutional military courts continue to operate. Lebanon still lacks a comprehensive institutional and legislative framework for the universal protection of human rights, and has no system to oversee the implementation of international treaties, including the United Nations Convention Against Torture (UNCAT).
Torture is widespread in Lebanon, with more than 700 cases reported to a single NGO in 2008- 2009, particularly with regard to suspects of national security offences, non-Lebanese citizens, LGBTIQ and drug addicts. The legislative and policy framework to prevent impunity for torture is absent. In a socio-cultural study conducted by ALEF on the acceptance of violence in Lebanon, it was found that the Lebanese population accepts violence as an instrument of power and a tool to enforce and control over opponents. In a survey conducted by ALEF in 2011, 23% of respondents associated violence with “political violence” and 27% said that they knew at least one person who has suffered from beating by official security agents.
In this report, ALEF studies the compliance of Lebanese laws with the UNCAT regarding the criminalization of torture, with the aim to give an objective and reliable summary of Lebanon’s progress towards the implementation of its international obligations under the UNCAT. Lebanon is 10 years overdue in submitting its initial report to the Committee against Torture, a fact that is of a grave concern for ALEF, as it reflects a wider lack of political will to engage on this issue. During the last three years, the Lebanese government has made a number of public commitments to the eradication of torture, notably the ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT), acceptance of recommendations issued by the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT) and those of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). However, these commitments have not yet been translated into action. The relevant initiatives have been delayed or reversed by political deadlock, changes in government and internal clashes.