The Lebanese Center for Human Rights held a virtual conference on 25/11/2020 to launch "Lebanon's Uprising" report one year after the protests that started on October 17, 2019. It aimed to highlight the most significant Human Right violations that took place during a year of demonstrations.
The press conference was facilitated by Journalist Sobhiya Najjar. Introducing the conference. The opening speech was given by Dr. Margaret Verjwik, Deputy Head of Mission at the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands who spoke about the importance of addressing Human Rights violations followed by Mr. Wadih Al Asmar, President of the Lebanese Center for Human rights who then highlighted the critical violations that occurred.
Then, Ms. Chrystine Mhanna, Communication and Advocacy Officer at the Center, presented the research methodology and its most important results.
During the conference, Ms. Joumana Haddad, Writer, Journalist and Activist, spoke about the main difficulties faced by journalists in the context of limiting freedom of expression during this year. Activist Khaldoun Jaber then shared his testimony after facing many violations during and after the protests.
At the end of the conference, a question and answer dialogue was held between the audience and speakers about major Human Rights concepts, the role of State actors and civil society in strengthening the accountability system and the role of the uprising in preparing for a long-term societal change in Lebanon.
The Center’s research methodology was based on qualitative and quantitative data including an online survey to study the awareness of protesters around human rights topics, mini-focused group discussions with activists and protesters, and interviews with key stakeholders such as journalists, activists, political parties and security officials.
The main research findings were:
- Excessive use of force.
- The peak of violence was coinciding with certain political messages.
- Human rights awareness is low, where not many protesters were aware of their basic rights during protests.
- Consequences of State of Emergency post Beirut blast.
The main recommendations were:
1- At the executive level:
- Submit security forces to regular trainings on human rights, and effective ways to limit the excessive use of force within a system of accountability.
- Implement the CAT and OPCAT ratified respectively by the State in October 2000 and December 2008.
- Abide by the International Covenant on Civil and Political rights ratified by the State in November 1972.
3- At the legislative level:
- Amend laws that limit freedom of speech including article 384 of the Penal Code.
- Criminalize only statements that amount to advocacy of national, racial, or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility, or violence.
- Amend the penal procedure code to impose further limitations on the authorities of the Public Prosecutors in matters of arbitrary detention.
2- At the judicial level:
- Pass the law regarding the independence of the judiciary.
- Human Rights violations perpetrated by security officers should be investigated by an independent body.
- Refrain from violating the Constitution and suppressing freedom of expression through arbitrary prosecutions based on social media posts and public statements.
3- To civil society actors:
- Continue to monitor, document and advocate for Human Rights violations in Lebanon with a focus on changing domestic law to conform with human rights laws.
- Raise awareness to the population around legal and Human Rights topics through social media campaigns and virtual and in-person training.
- Increase government’s accountability by connecting with national and international actors including Government’s donors, the UN, INGOs and Civil Society Actors through participating in UN Human Rights Council meetings.
4. To Beirut and Tripoli Bar Associations:
- Promote effective pro-bono legal services and encourage junior lawyers to participate in pro-bono programs.
- Promote a culture of Human Rights among lawyers by providing training on human rights law.
- Utilize the amendment of Article 47 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which requires a lawyer for preliminary investigations for them be recorded in audio and video to limit the extraction of confessions under pressure and torture.