Civil Society Organizations: We reject the unjustified renewal of the mandate of the National Human Rights Commission, which includes the Committee for the Prevention of Torture.
On the 27 October 2016, Law 62 was issued as a first step to establish the mechanism for preventing torture in Lebanon in compliance with the Paris Principles and the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, to which Lebanon joined in 2008.
On 19 June 2018 and as per the provisions of article 2 of the above-mentioned law which set the mechanism for the appointment of members and their mandate at six years non-renewable, the National Human Rights Commission was established by Decree No. 3267. Five members of the Committee for the Prevention of Torture were appointed on 5 July 2019 by Decree No. 5147.
On 12 November 2019, the National Human Rights Commission selected its President and members and distributed the tasks to fulfill its tasks as outlined in section III of Law 62/2016.
However, almost three years after the establishment of the National Human Rights Commission, the General assembly of Parliament approved on 21/02/2022 an amendment to articles 28 and 30 of Law No. 62/2016, which read as follows:
"Article 1: Article 28 of Law 62 issued on 27/10/2016 was amended to read as follows:
Budget and Financial Regulations:
A- The commission shall enjoy administrative and financial independence and shall be subject to subsequent supervision by the Court of Audit.
B- The commission shall have an annual budget to be included in a special section of the independent national bodies established by law, which shall be sufficient to cover the expenses and activities of the committee. The commission shall prepare the draft budget and shall send it to the Minister of Finance within a period that is in accordance with the provisions of the Law on Public Accounting.
C- An additional account must be included in the general budget of the commission during its first operational year after the entry into force of this law.
D- The commission shall have an account at the Central Bank, the expenses of which shall be held by the president of the commission as per the provisions of the Law on Public Accounting and the applicable laws.
E- The commission’s accounts are subject to internal and independent auditing by accounting offices as per the provisions of article 73 of Law No. 326 of 28 August 2001 (Budget Law 2001).
Article 2 :
Article 30 of Law 62 of 27/10/2016 is amended as follows:
Members’ allocation and the start of the first mandate:
A- The President, Vice-President, and members of the commission shall receive monthly compensation, determined by a decree of the Council of Ministers, according to the Minister of Justice’s proposal.
B- The first mandate of the National Human Rights Commission, which includes the Committee for the Prevention of Torture, begins after all decrees governing the committee are issued. "
Based on the above amendments, the signatory organizations express their increased concern and total rejection of the content of article 2 of the amendment, which refers to the start of the first mandate of the National Human Rights Commission, including the Committee for the Prevention of Torture, for the following purposes:
• Firstly: As mentioned above, both the Commission and the Committee have been legally established since 2019 by decrees of the Council of Ministers, and thus have a real legal status which resulted in several projects that relate to their competencies either individually or in cooperation with international or local associations and organizations dealing with torture prevention.
We wonder how this body operated before this amendment since it is strange to deny its previous existence and consider that its first mandate begins after the decrees governing it were issued, contrary to legal logic.
• Secondly: The amended provisions of article 30, paragraph (B) which would cancel the past three years and account for the six-year term of members since the issuing of the governing decrees, constitutes a violation of article 2 of Law 62, which stated:
“The commission shall be composed of ten members, five of whom shall be members of the National Committee for the Prevention of Torture, all appointed by a decree based on a decision taken in the Council of Ministers for a non-renewable period of six years…”
• Thirdly: The appointment of the first members of the Commission was devoid of any form of transparency in the absence of any clear criteria for appointment. Nevertheless, we have reached out tirelessly to the members of the Commission and the Committee and have already worked on several projects, however, given the terms of reference and functions entrusted to the Commission and its Committee, we believe that it has neglected a number of its functions.
Accordingly, we reject any form of renewal and abolition of the mandate of the Commission and the Committee. Our recommendations:
To civil society and syndicates:
• To establish a clear and public position on this amendment and to pressure for the appointment of experienced and competent members through transparent and fair elections.
To Members of the Commission and Committee:
• To immediately resign from their position.
To the Lebanese Parliament:
• To cooperate with civil society and all relevant bodies to submit a constitutional review of Article 2(B), which is contrary to the provisions of Law 62 as mentioned above.
• Proud Lebanon
• Restart Center for the Rehabilitation of Violence and Torture
• The Lebanese Center for Human Rights (CLDH)