Position Paper on the EU-Lebanon Partnership
Lebanese Center for Human Rights
May 24th, 2016
The Lebanese Center for Human Rights is sharing to the European Union External Action its concerns regarding the human rights situation in Lebanon. Although Human Rights are recognized by the Lebanese state on the International stage by the signature of numerous core human rights treaties, their implementation within the border seems to remain a delicate matter.
The renewal of the Partnership between European Union and Lebanon aiming at focusing on “pressing the authorities for an appropriate protection environment”, is the opportunity for CLDH to recall the urgency of implementing appropriate measures in order to have a transparent system, respectful of fundamental rights inherent to Lebanese as well as non-Lebanese citizens.
The European Union cannot continue on this path of funding the Lebanese government without requiring any counterpart, without establishing a conditionality system. The project logic is obsolete due to the legislative inaction of Lebanon. Several laws are pending for years now at the Parliament, such as the Criminalisation of Torture, the Creation of a National Human Rights Commission including a National Protection Mechanism, two law related to Enforced Disappearances, a draft decree related to the same issue is still pending the government approval since 2011 and a draft law that should authorize the government to ratify the International Convention for the protection of all persons from Enforced Disappearances. Yearly objectives have to be defined, and the results evaluated before delivering further funding. The Lebanese government will not improve its law and implement it without fearing the loss of European’s financial contribution.
Therefore the CLDH – Lebanese Center for Human Rights urges the European Union External Action to seriously take the following issues into consideration during the preparation of the new EU – Lebanon Partnership 2016-2020:
- Address the lack of legal framework for refugees present within the territory of Lebanon. As the Syria enters in its fifth year of crisis, Lebanon is now hosting approximately 1.5 millions of Syrians. The State of Lebanon, by its geographical location, is a long-standing hosting country for refugees from the Middle East, mainly for Palestinians and Iraqis before the crisis. Though, Lebanon did not ratify the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, therefore refugees in Lebanon are subject to the 1962 Entry and Exit Law that cannot cater the current context. During the London conference in February, Lebanon showed its interest in regulating the employment of refugees, it would be a first step but this is not enough. Regarding the protracted crisis, the Lebanese government needs to enact a legal framework for the refugees. The benefits that would arise from such law would be mutual: regulating the stay of refugees and improve their precarious legal situation, but as well it will subject them to the duties, laws and regulations of the country.
- Enforce the Judicial System and Laws in order to comply with the commitment under the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Lebanon still practices arbitrary detention for administrative reasons, or on the grounds of national discrimination, or by prolonged pre/post trial detention despite what was stated in their Initial Report for the UN Committee for the Convention against Torture. CLDH has a long history of assessing the situation of prisons and detention conditions, and unfortunately possesses documented proofs that the use of torture in Lebanese prisons is still on progress, and does not benefit of a transparent and competent jurisdiction to investigate these violation of human rights. There are no improvement related to the accountability of perpetrators of torture violation, and the CLDH noticed the total absence of rehabilitation policy from the Government. Thus, we demand to put the law regarding the Criminalisation of Torture on the agenda of the parliament general assembly and to vote the said law, also we request the prison management authority to be effectively transferred from the Ministry of Interior to the Ministry of Justice.
- Establish a comprehensive official response on the issue of enforced disappearance. With an estimated number of 17,000 missing in Lebanon, it is imperative to create a National independent commission on Enforced disappearances and missing of the war. A draft decree exists but remains at the Human Right commission level, the European Union has to push in favor of the approval by the Council of Ministers. In addition, Lebanon has to ratify the International Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearance.
- Abolish the Kafala system. Lebanon follows the sponsoring system in order to regulate the waves of migrant workers arriving, inherited from the Gulf Cooperation Council countries’ customs. Not even recorded in the Lebanese law, originally used for protection of the migrants, this custom is nowadays misused in order to get advantaged of them. This archaic custom is no more than a slavery system depriving the migrant workers from their rights and freedom by the establishment of unequal relation between the employer and the worker, the latter being considered as the “property” of the employer. Furthermore, the kids of migrant workers are now targeted by the General Security Office, who refuse to provide them with residency permit, and therefore oblige parents either to leave the country or to send the kids alone back home. CLDH requires from Lebanon to sign and ratify the International Convention on the Protection of the Right of all Migrant Workers and members of their family, and consequently to reform its labor law. Finally, European state members and European Union commission should stop supporting the Adlieh retention center, mainly used for arbitrary administrative detention of migrant workers who lack proper documentation, and any projects undertaken into it: this is the only way to oblige the Lebanese government to find a new and better place.
Wadih Al-Asmar, Secretary General
Marie Grené, Communication and Fundraising Officer