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Activists chant slogans demanding the end of corruption, in Beirut, Lebanon, October 20, 2020.  © 2020 Marwan Naamani/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

(Beirut) – Candidates for Lebanon’s May 15, 2022, parliamentary elections should make commitments to support key reforms that would improve the human rights situation in the country, Human Rights Watch said today in letters to major political parties and candidates citing 10 key areas for reform. All candidates are encouraged to fill out the questionnaire online about these rights issues by April 28.

The priority areas Human Rights Watch has identified are justice and accountability, the economic crisis, the electricity crisis, freedom of expression, military courts, women’s rights, migrant domestic workers, sexual orientation and gender identity, refugees, and rights of persons with disabilities. Human Rights Watch will issue the results before the election.

“Lebanon’s next parliament can play a crucial role in protecting citizens’ rights amid one of the worst economic crises in modern times,” said Aya Majzoub, Lebanon researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Lebanese voters deserve to know where the candidates stand on these rights issues that affect everyone in Lebanon.”

Candidates should make a commitment to pass laws that will strengthen judicial independence, create a comprehensive and universal social safety net, reform the dilapidated electricity sector, remove civilians from military court jurisdiction, create an optional civil personal status code to protect women’s rights, allow Lebanese women to pass nationality to their children, extend labor protections to migrant domestic workers, raise the age of marriage to 18, and ensure that children with disabilities can get a quality education.

Candidates should also pledge to repeal laws that criminalize defamation, criticism of public officials, and consensual adult sexual relations. They should publicly support the domestic investigation into the Beirut Blast, lifting immunity for parliament members implicated in the blast, and support accountability, including criminal sanctions, for abuses by security forces.

“Candidates should use this opportunity to publicly commit to improving the human rights situation in Lebanon,” Majzoub said. “We hope that candidates will give these issues the important consideration they deserve.”

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