The following report highlights Lebanon’s improvements and setbacks of the most pressing human rights issues in 2015. The Lebanese government has shown a willingness to comply with certain human rights matters, however it clearly lacks the capacity and funds to improve legislation, enforce laws, and report to the United Nations (UN) properly. With regard to human rights matters such as torture, refugees and asylum seekers, discrimination, and inequality of women, there is no political will amongst decision- makers.
Whereas in some other areas, the government has taken action towards improving human rights situations, such as the dissolution or limitation of jurisdictions of the military court. The Lebanese government has fulfilled its reporting obligations to the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), and has submitted long overdue state reports to UN human rights bodies, namely the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Committee on the Rights of the Child, and the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
The willingness and the ability of the Lebanese government remain the strongest obstacles for the protection, promotion and fulfillment of human rights in Lebanon. The presence of over one million Syrian refugees continues to be an economic and social burden, and a source of serious political concern for Lebanon. What is more concerning is the lack of will from other states to share this burden. With the absence of sustainable solutions and solidarity among nations in terms of demographic burden- sharing, there has been an increase in the trend of violations. They are mainly expressed by ad hoc policies by the government, often in violation of human rights and refugee protection principles stipulated in international laws.
This past year, another prominent human rights issue in Lebanon was police brutality. During the waste management protests in August 2015, the Internal Security Forces used tear gas canisters, live bullets, rubber bullets, water cannons, and mass targeted arrests to disperse protesters. The police then failed to communicate the number and location of arrested protesters. Police officers could not be identified by name because of the lack of name or I.D. tags on their uniforms. It was therefore impossible to file a complaint in front of an impartial investigative body.
For the most part, Lebanese legislation is in compliance with international law. However, Lebanon still lacks a comprehensive institutional and legislative framework for the universal protection of human rights. A long period of political stalemate has put a hold on legislative activity, which, when it works, works poorly and for short periods. The lack of a stable political system has forcibly given parliament more power. Many parties have deemed this unconstitutional and undemocratic. The current stalemate has also impacted the executive power whose actions continue to be limited, as political actors have failed to elect a president since the end of the mandate of President Suleiman.