Candidates for Lebanon’s parliamentary elections should commit to human rights reforms.

 
(Beirut) – Twenty-eight candidates and some parties running in Lebanon’s parliamentary elections on May 6, 2018, have made public commitments to strengthen human rights protections. But none of the parties in the current cabinet were willing to make public commitments in response to a Human Rights Watch letter urging them to commit to human rights reforms on 10 issues.
 
The new independent parties Libaladi, Kelna Beirut, You Stink, and individual candidates committed to all of the proposed reforms. The Kataeb party, which is not in the cabinet, committed to the reforms except those related to refugee rights.
 
“It is deeply disappointing that none of the parties in Lebanon’s current government saw fit to make strong commitments to human rights,” said Lama Fakih, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Candidates should commit to take tangible steps to strengthen human rights in Lebanon if elected.”
 
 
The areas Human Rights Watch identified are: women’s rights, torture, the waste crisis, freedom of expression and assembly, military court trials of civilians, disability rights, sexual orientation and gender identity, refugee rights, justice and accountability, and privacy.
 
Candidates should pledge to pass laws that establish a national waste management framework; remove civilians from military court jurisdiction; create an optional civil personal status code, including civil marriage; set the minimum marriage age at 18; and allow Lebanese women to pass nationality to their children, Human Rights Watch said. They should also agree to extend labor protections to migrant domestic workers, and reform the kafala sponsorship system for these workers; ensure that children with disabilities can get a quality education; protect people’s privacy and end arbitrary surveillance; and set up an independent national commission to advance justice and accountability for people forcibly disappeared during the civil war.
 
Candidates should also pledge to repeal laws that criminalize defamation, criticism of public officials and symbols, and consensual adult sexual relations. And they should publicly support the establishment of a National Human Rights Institute and support temporary legal status for Syrian refugees until it is safe for them to return home.
 
Lebanon’s last parliamentary elections took place in June 2009. After three extensions of their term, members of parliament have more than doubled the time they were elected to serve, dashing the hopes of citizens who had been waiting to elect their representatives since 2013. Because Lebanon’s voting age is 21, some people close to 30 have never had a chance to elect their parliamentary representatives.
 
“After a nine-year term, parliament has made no headway on several key human rights issues,” Fakih said. “Lebanese citizens should know that candidates are committed to fighting for their rights.”
 
Candidates who made commitments to reforms on all 10 issues:
 
Levon Telvizian
 
Laury Haytayan
 
Yorgui Teyrouz
 
Joumana Haddad
 
Lucien Bourjeily
 
Gilbert Doumit
 
Paula Yaacoubian
 
Ziad Baroud
 
Alina Dakessian
 
Nouhad Yazbeck Doumit
 
Naji Kodeih
 
Nadine Itani
 
 
Fatime Mouchref Hmasni
 
Hassan Sinno
 
Zina Majdalani
 
Marwan Al Tibi
 
Nadine Moussa
 
Josephine Zgheib
 
Layal Bou Moussa
 
Rima Hmayed
 
Yahya Mawloud
 
Ghada Eid
 
Fadi Abou Jamra
 
Candidates who made commitments to reforms on some issues:
 
Ahmad al-Ass‘ad, made commitments on all issues expect for the kafala system.
Lina Hamdan, made commitments on free speech, waste crisis, refugee rights, torture, privacy, disability rights, justice and accountability, and women’s rights.
Fifi Kallab, made commitments on all issues except refugees and privacy.
Riad Ghazali, made commitments on all issues except refugees.
 
Update: 
 
On May 18, the Progressive Socialist Party wrote to Human Rights Watch and made concrete human rights commitments including on domestic violence, civil marriage, nationality, religious courts, child marriage, disability rights, refugee rights, torture, and military courts.