Even if it is extremely hard to generalize a comparison between the current situation of Human Rights in Lebanon to its past, we still consider that some few points are comparable. Certain violations reflect the authorities’ attitude and the priority that they give to the respect of Human Rights in their agenda. Our report will study, through an empirical approach, both the positive and negative aspects of the respect of Human Rights in Lebanon in 2002. It is, however, useful to highlight our main areas of concern. During 2002, an evident increase of politically associated security incidents and of active and obvious implication of judiciary power in political conflicts occurred. There was a tendency to use judiciary power as an instrument of political power. This came at the expense of elementary principles of law, equity, and justice. It is necessary to add to these alarming tendencies the continuous practice of repression against political opponents, such as intimidation measures against students. The use of violence in political demonstrations significantly increased in 2002 when compared to the situation in 2001, a year of clear improvement. The increasing political instrumentalism of the judiciary power had two bad consequences:
- a) An alarming permissiveness in the repression of freedom of expression, illustrated by two illegal measures, which were unconstitutional and unfairly taken, against two TV stations (MTV and New TV) in less than 4 months.
- b) ThecancellationoftheoppositioncandidateGabrielMurr’selectiontoofficebytheConstitutional Council itself. This decision, which made Ghassan Moukheiber winner, although he got only 2% of the votes, was justified by “Reason of state” (possibility of regional war) as if a State of Emergency had been declared, although the outcome of this politico-judiciary affair (Metn partial election) directly serves the personal and familial interests of Michel Murr, loyalist deputy and previous Minister.
This non-recent tendency of the judicial power is due to several factors. The year 2001 is notorious for the August 7 incidents in which the judiciary was completely involved as an instrument of repression. Additionally, two surprising statements are worth pointing out: Nasri Lahoud, former President of Superior Council of the Judiciary, declared in November 2002 that the judiciary works as a governmental department and some judges have been able to build “castles.” The second not less surprising statement, made by the Prime Minster Rafik Hariri, who declared on January 2, 2003 that there are political interventions in the judiciary power and that a judiciary reform is necessary.
In the frame of the positive developments, we are glad to notice the large and efficient campaign against substance use and abuse, as well as the permission given to the ICRC to visit all prisons and prisoners, without exception, despite the fact that this decree is not fully implemented.