"Judicial aid in Lebanon and its impact on the right to justice"
The Lebanese Center for Human Rights (CLDH) and the Tripoli Bar Association organized a joint seminar entitled “Judicial Aid in Lebanon and its impact on the right to Justice”, where CLDH launched a study on judicial aid in Lebanon. The Bar Association's lawyers and the Center's team presented the most prominent Lebanese legislations in the field of Human rights, prison conditions and overcrowding under the Corona pandemic and regulations violating the rights of those seeking access to justice. At the end of the conference, the Center and the Bar Association signed two MOUs to provide legal assistance to the victims' families and those affected by the explosion of the Beirut port, and the previous cooperation agreement was developed to provide moral and material support to the Judicial Aid and Legal Aid Center in the Bar Association.
The seminar was facilitated by Mr. Fadel Fakih, the Executive Director of CLDH. In the first session, head of the Tripoli Bar Association Mr. Mohamed Murad spoke about the importance of spreading the concept of judicial aid, especially after amending article 47 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which clearly referred to the question of the right of the interrogated to use one of the two Bar Associations and to request legal aid if one could not afford a lawyer; he also welcomed the new cooperation agreement with the Center. The President of the Lebanese Center for Human Rights Mr. Wadih Al-Asmar gave another introductory speech and emphasized that legal aid and the presence of lawyers during investigations is the responsibility of the State and the Ministry of Justice in order to grant all residents of Lebanon a fair trial and access to justice.
After that, Ms. Dolly Farah, Director of the Institute of Human Rights of the Bar Association - Tripoli presented some of the innovations of the Bar Association in the North.
In the next session, the Lebanese Center for Human Rights launched its study on judicial aid in Lebanon between reality and challenges with Ms. Dima Abou Abdou, Researcher and Monitoring and Evaluation Officer at CLDH. Abou Abdo presented the reality of legal aid in Lebanon, and some recommendations at the official level, at the level of organizations and Tripoli and Beirut Bar associations.
The Center then presented the new Lebanese legislations in the field of human rights and its application with Ms. Josiane Noun, Program Manager at CLDH, who focused on the rights of detainees, and presenting the most important laws amended or/enacted, including Law 65 to punish torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Law 62 to establish the National Human Rights Commission, which includes the Committee for the Prevention of Torture, Law 105 on the Missing and Enforced Disappeared, the recent passing of a law that criminalizes sexual harassment and finally, the amendment of article 47 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
Me. Issam Sbat, attorney at law, spoke about regulations violating the rights of applicants for access to justice, highlighting the case of a woman whose rights were violated when she was arrested for 20 days due to negligence in judicial proceedings and filing. Lawyer Mohamed Sabblouh, Rapporteur of the prisons Committee of the Tripoli Bar Association then discussed the situation of prisons and the impact of overcrowding under the Corona pandemic.
The seminar ended with a discussion between the attendees and the speakers most particularly, the Ministry of Justice's intervention which was represented by Judge Angela Dagher, who praised the role of the Ministry of Justice in ensuring justice; and briefed the attendees on the legal aid project supported by UNDP in partnership with the Ministry and the Beirut and Tripoli Bar Associations and stressed that the Ministry of Justice and the judges specifically supported the implementation of the amendment to article 47 of the Lebanese Code of Criminal Procedure.
The mechanism of improving legal aid in Lebanon is based on many initiatives that appear scattered and unrelated, the first obstacle to talking about a comprehensive legal aid program. This is aggravated by the absence of any government policy to enable access to justice, and by placing this burden entirely on the Bar Associations and the organizations.