1. The Committee examined
the second periodic report of Lebanon (CCPR/C/42/Add.14) at its 1578th
and 1579th meetings on 7 April 1997 and subsequently adopted at the 1585th
meeting (fifty-ninth session), held on 10 April 1997 the following comments:
2. The Committee welcomes
the second periodic report submitted by the State party, although after
a long delay, and appreciates the delegation's readiness to resume its
dialogue with the Committee. The Committee regrets, however, that while
the report provided some useful information on the general legislative
framework of Lebanon, it did not deal consistently with the actual state
of implementation of the Covenant, and only to a limited extent with the
difficulties encountered in the course of its implementation. The Committee
also considers that the report is too brief to provide a comprehensive
overview of the implementation of Covenant guarantees by the State party.
The Committee appreciated the presence of the delegation, which provided
some helpful clarifications in responding to several of the Committee's
3. The Committee hopes that
the present comments will assist the State party in the preparation of
the third periodic report under article 40 of the Covenant, which should
include substantive and thorough information on the issues identified
as being of concern to the Committee in the following paragraphs.
Factors and difficulties affecting the implementation of the Covenant
4. The Committee notes that
the conflict in Lebanon from 1975 to 1990 destroyed much of the country's
infrastructure and caused considerable human suffering, as well as severe
economic disruption and difficulties, which continue to restrict resources
allocated to human rights. The Committee appreciates that the State party
is not in a position to ensure that the provisions of the Covenant are
effectively applied and respected throughout the territory, since the
authorities have no access to the southern part of the country, which
remains under Israeli occupation.
5. The Committee also notes
that the process of national reconstruction remains handicapped by a number
of factors, inter alia, by the fact that non-Lebanese military
forces control parts of the State party's territory, which contributes
to undermining the control of the central Government and may prevent the
application of the State party's laws and the Covenant in the areas not
under the Government's control.
6. The Committee welcomes
the State party's recent adoption of legislation designed to a certain
extent to bring its legal system into line with Lebanon's obligations
under international human rights instruments, in particular legislation
designed to ensure the equality of rights and obligations between men
7. The Committee appreciates
the Government's readiness to reform the country's prison system, which,
the delegation conceded, displays serious shortcomings, and welcomes the
budgetary appropriations decided upon by the Government to this effect.
It expresses the hope that the prison reform and renovation programme
will be effected in as expeditious a manner as possible, so as to enable
the State party to comply with articles 7 and 10 of the Covenant.
8. The Committee notes with
appreciation the establishment of the Commission on Rules of Procedure
and Human Rights (Commission du reglement interieur et des droits de
l'homme), which examines certain legislative proposals in the light
of their human rights implications and for their compatibility with human
rights standards. The Committee also welcomes the establishment of a Constitutional
Court (art. 19 of the Constitution).
Subjects of concern and the Committee's recommendations
9. The Committee considers
that some aspects of the State party's legal system do not conform with
the provisions of the Covenant. In this context, it points in particular
to the fact that decisions passed by the Justice Council are not subject
to appeal, which is contrary to article 14, paragraph 5, of the Covenant.
The Committee recommends that a comprehensive review be undertaken of
the legal framework for the protection of human rights in the State party,
to ensure compliance with all of the provisions of the Covenant. It further
encourages the State party to consider the creation of the institution
of a national ombudsman or of an independent national human rights commission,
which would have authority to investigate human rights violations and
to make recommendations on remedial action to the Government.
10. In respect of Decree-Law
102 of September 1983 and Decree 7988 of February 1996, the Committee
notes with concern that the circumstances under which a state of emergency
may be proclaimed and enforced in Lebanon are excessively broad and may
be used to restrict the exercise of basic rights in an unjustifiable manner.
The Committee also deplores that the State party has failed to observe
its duties under article 4, paragraph 3, of the Covenant to notify the
Secretary-General of the United Nations and through him other States parties
to the Covenant of the proclamation of a state of emergency.
11. The Committee accordingly
urges the State party to suspend the application of Decree-Law 102 and
its implementation Decree, or to replace it by legislation which meets
the requirements of article 4 of the Covenant. The Committee also recommends
that all future proclamations of states of emergency be strictly limited
in time and notified in scrupulous accordance with the requirements of
article 4, paragraph 3, of the Covenant.
12. The Committee notes with
concern the amnesty granted to civilian and military personnel for human
rights violations they may have committed against civilians during the
civil war. Such a sweeping amnesty may prevent the appropriate investigation
and punishment of the perpetrators of past human rights violations, undermine
efforts to establish respect for human rights, and constitute an impediment
to efforts undertaken to consolidate democracy.
13. The Committee notes with
concern that the role and respective competencies of the Lebanese internal
security forces and the military, with respect to arrest, detention and
interrogation of individuals, were not properly clarified by the delegation.
The Committee regrets that the delegation did not provide information
on the role and extent of the exercise of power regarding the arrest,
detention and interrogation, as well as the possible transfer to Syria,
of Lebanese citizens, by the Syrian security services which continue to
operate within the State party's territory with the consent of the Government.
14. The Committee expresses
concern about the broad scope of the jurisdiction of military courts in
Lebanon, especially its extension beyond disciplinary matters and its
application to civilians. It is also concerned about the procedures followed
by these military courts, as well as the lack of supervision of the military
courts' procedures and verdicts by the ordinary courts. The State party
should review the jurisdiction of the military courts and transfer the
competence of military courts, in all trials concerning civilians and
in all cases concerning the violation of human rights by members of the
military, to the ordinary courts.
15. More generally, the Committee
expresses concern about the independence and impartiality of the State
party's judiciary, and notes that the delegation itself conceded that
the procedures governing the appointment of judges and in particular members
of the Conseil Superieur de la Magistrature were far from satisfactory.
The Committee is also concerned that the State party does not, in many
instances, provide citizens with effective remedies and appeal procedures
for their grievances. The Committee therefore recommends that the State
party review, as a matter of urgency, the procedures governing the appointment
of members of the judiciary, with a view to ensuring their full independence.
16. The Committee expresses
concern over well substantiated allegations of acts of torture and cruel,
inhuman and degrading treatment committed by the State party's police,
the Lebanese security forces and non-Lebanese security forces operating
within the State party's territory, the occurrence of arbitrary arrest
and detention, searches operated without warrants, abusive treatment of
individuals deprived of their liberty, and violations of the right to
a fair trial. It has noted the delegation's statement that no such acts
of torture and ill-treatment are committed by the Lebanese police and
security forces; notwithstanding this statement, it urges the State party
to investigate the credible allegations of instances of ill-treatment
and torture which have been brought to the Committee's attention.
17. While welcoming the State
party's intention to reform and modernize the prison system (see para.
7 above), credible and well substantiated reports of ill-treatment of
prisoners and serious overcrowding of prisons, as well as the lack of
clear segregation of minors and of adults and convicted detainees and
those awaiting trial, continue to be a matter of concern to the Committee.
The Committee regrets that the delegation was unable to provide further
clarifications on the situation of female juvenile delinquents detained
at Zahle prison.
18. While welcoming recent
legislative amendments which eliminate some forms of discrimination against
women, the Committee notes that both legal and de facto discrimination
continue to be a matter of concern. It refers in this context to articles
487 to 489 of the Criminal Code, which impose harsher sentences for conviction
of adultery on women than on men, to nationality laws and the law which
may restrict the right to leave the country for spouses in the absence
of the consent of their husband (para. 9 of the report). The Committee
considers that these provisions, and others referred to in the report,
are incompatible with articles 3 and 23 of the Covenant. The Committee
is equally concerned about the compatibility of laws and regulations which
do not allow Lebanese citizens to contract marriage other than in accordance
with the laws and procedures of one of the recognized religious communities,
and that these laws and procedures do not afford equality of rights to
19. Accordingly, the Committee
recommends that the State party review its laws, especially those governing
the status of women, women's rights and obligations in marriage and civil
obligations, make appropriate amendments to them and take appropriate
action to ensure full legal and de facto equality for women in all aspects
of society. Accessible and effective remedies should be available in respect
of all forms of discrimination. The Committee recommends that in addition
to the existing laws and procedures governing marriage, civil laws on
marriage and divorce available to everyone should be introduced in Lebanon.
20. The Committee is deeply
concerned at the Government's extension of the number of crimes carrying
the death penalty, which, bearing in mind that article 6 of the Covenant
limits the circumstances under which capital punishment may be imposed,
suggesting that they be submitted to continuing review with a view to
the abolition of capital punishment, is not compatible with that article.
21. The Committee therefore
urges the State party to review its policy vis-à-vis capital punishment
with a view, first, to its limitation and, ultimately, its abolition.
It recommends that the State party include in its next periodic report
a detailed list of all crimes for which the death sentence may be imposed,
as well as a list of all cases in which the death sentence was pronounced
22. The Committee has noted
with concern the difficulties faced by many foreign workers in Lebanon
whose passports were confiscated by their employers. This practice, which
the Government has conceded must be addressed more satisfactorily, is
not compatible with article 12 of the Covenant. The Committee recommends
that the State party take effective measures to protect the rights of
these foreign workers by preventing such confiscation and by providing
an accessible and effective means for the recovery of passports.
23. The Committee notes with
concern that every Lebanese citizen must belong to one of the religious
denominations officially recognized by the Government, and that this is
a requirement in order to be eligible to run for public office. This practice
does not, in the Committee's opinion, comply with the requirements of
article 25 of the Covenant.
24. The Committee notes with
concern that a number of provisions of the Media Law No. 382 of November
1994 and Decree No. 7997 of February 1996, on the basis of which the licensing
of television and radio stations has been restricted to 3 and 11 stations,
respectively, do not appear to be consistent with the guarantees enshrined
in article 19 of the Covenant, as there are no reasonable and objective
criteria for the award of licences. The licensing process has had the
effect of restricting media pluralism and freedom of expression. In this
context, the Committee also observes that the limitations placed on two
different categories of radio and television stations - those that can
broadcast news and political programmes and those which cannot - is unjustifiable
under article 19.
25. The Committee therefore
recommends that the State party review and amend the Media Law of November
1994, as well as its implementing decree, with a view to bringing it into
conformity with article 19 of the Covenant. It recommends that the State
party establish an independent broadcasting licensing authority, with
the power to examine broadcasting applications and to grant licences in
accordance with reasonable and objective criteria.
26. The Committee is concerned
about the maintenance of the total ban on public demonstrations, which
continues to be justified by the Government on grounds of public safety
and national security. This wholesale ban on demonstrations is not, in
the Committee's opinion, compatible with the right to freedom of assembly
under article 21 and should be lifted as soon as possible.
27. The Committee has noted
that while legislation governing the incorporation and status of associations
is on its face compatible with article 22 of the Covenant, de facto State
party practice has restricted the right to freedom of association through
a process of prior licensing and control. The delegation itself conceded
that the practice of denying that registration took place is unlawful.
The Committee also regrets that civil servants continue to be denied the
right to form associations and to bargain collectively, in violation of
article 22 of the Covenant.
28. The Committee therefore
recommends that the State party ensure that the competent authorities
adhere scrupulously to the provisions of the Statute on Incorporation
of Associations. It further suggests that the Government review and ultimately
lift its ban on the establishment of associations by civil servants.
29. The Committee recommends
that the State party give serious and urgent consideration to ratifying,
or acceding to, the first Optional Protocol to the Covenant, as a means
of strengthening the system of guarantees for the protection of human
30. The Committee recommends
that more detailed information about specific laws and more concrete and
factual information about the enjoyment of civil and political rights
be provided by the Government of Lebanon in its next periodic report.
In particular, it would appreciate information on whether domestic courts
have given effect to the Covenant's guarantees in their decisions and
on how potential conflicts between domestic statutes and Covenant guarantees
have been resolved. This would enable the Committee to assess more accurately
any progress made by the State party in the implementation of the Covenant.
31. The Committee recommends
that information about the Covenant, and the Committee's present observations,
be disseminated as widely as possible by the Lebanese authorities, and
that the State party's next periodic report be widely publicized.