(Beirut) – Candidates for Lebanon’s parliament should be making firm commitments to strengthen human rights protections during these difficult times for Lebanon, Human Rights Watch said today.
Only nine candidates and one political party for Lebanon’s May 15, 2022, parliamentary elections were willing to make public commitments to strengthen human rights protections in response to a Human Rights Watch letter urging them to commit to 10 priority reform areas. None of the parties in the current parliament made any human rights commitments.
“In the midst of an acute economic crisis and global pandemic, the need to protect rights in Lebanon has never been more urgent,” said Aya Majzoub, Lebanon researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The candidates urgently need to address these important issues, and voters should make clear that the members of parliament need to follow through with important legislative protections for human rights.”
Human Rights Watch wrote to the major political parties and candidates on April 11, asking them to respond by April 28. The priority areas Human Rights Watch identified are: justice and accountability; protecting rights in responding to the economic and electricity crises; freedom of expression; abuses in the military courts; women’s rights; rights of migrant domestic workers; protecting rights connected to sexual orientation and gender identity; refugee rights; and rights of persons with disabilities.
The new parliament should work to pass laws in the following areas:
- 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 repeal laws that criminalize defamation, criticism of public officials, and consensual adult sexual relations. And 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.
“Lebanon’s next parliament has an important opportunity to reverse the backsliding of rights in Lebanon and pass legislation that enables everyone in Lebanon to live a dignified life,” Majzoub said. “We hope the next parliament will use these priority areas as a roadmap to improving the human rights situation in the country.”
These candidates and parties made commitments to all 10 human rights priority areas:
- Lucien Bou Rjeily
- Nouhad Doumit
- Chukri Haddad
- Alaa Anwar Al Sayegh
- Jack Edward Jendo
- Fadi Abi Allam
- Najat Saliba
- Chamel Roukoz
- Jean Abi Younes (with some qualifications on refugee issues)