Lebanese Republic: Joint Submission to the UN Universal Periodic Review 37th Session of the UPR Working Group
1.1 CIVICUS is a global alliance of civil society organisations (CSOs) and activists dedicated to strengthening citizen action and civil society around the world. Founded in 1993, CIVICUS has members in more than 180 countries.
1.2 The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) is an independent CSO that works to provide support and protection to human rights defenders (HRDs), including independent journalists, bloggers and lawyers in the Gulf region and neighbouring countries, by promoting the freedoms of association, peaceful assembly and expression.
1.3 International Media Support (IMS) is a media development organisation in the Nordic region that is based in Demark. It works in more than 30 countries across four continents including some countries in the MENA region promoting press freedom, good journalism and safety for journalists.
1.4 Social Media Exchange (SMEX) is a registered Lebanese CSO that works to advance self-regulating information societies in the Middle East and North Africa.
1.5 In this document, CIVICUS, GCHR, IMS and SMEX examine the Lebanese government’s compliance with its international human rights obligations to create and maintain a safe and enabling environment for civil society. Specifically, we outline concerns related to the Lebanese government’s fulfilment of the rights to the freedoms of association, peaceful assembly and expression and unwarranted restrictions on HRDs since its previous UPR examination in November 2015.
1.6 During the 2nd UPR cycle, the Government of Lebanon received nine recommendations relating to the space for civil society (civic space). Of these recommendations, three were accepted and six were noted. However, an evaluation of a range of legal sources and human rights documentation addressed in subsequent sections of this submission demonstrate that the Government of Lebanon has partially implemented only one recommendation relating to civic space.
1.7 While the government has made significant strides in addressing torture by adopting law number 65, known as the anti-torture law, the law has not been operationalised. Moreover, the government has persistently failed to address fully the brutal and violent dispersal of peaceful protests, the arrest and prosecution of journalists and protesters and restrictions on the activities of CSOs advocating for women’s and LGBTQI+ rights.
1.8 We are deeply concerned by the legal and extra-legal restrictions on the freedom of association and, in particular, the systematic targeting of associations and activities by the LGBTQI+ community.
1.9 We are further alarmed by the continued deterioration of the freedom of expression, as highlighted by the increase in judicial proceedings against media outlets critical of the authorities, threats to digital rights, raids and attacks by security forces and sometimes by members of the public on media outlets and the targeting of journalists for assault, intimidation, interrogation and arbitrary arrest in connection with their journalistic work.
1.10 As a result of these issues, civic space in Lebanon is currently classified as obstructed by the CIVICUS Monitor.
- Section 2 of this submission examines Lebanon’s implementation of UPR recommendations and compliance with international human rights standards relating to the protection of HRDs and civil society activists.
- Section 3 examines Lebanon’s implementation of UPR recommendations and compliance with international human rights standards concerning the freedom of expression, independence of the media and journalists and access to information.
- Section 4 examines Lebanon’s implementation of UPR recommendations and compliance with international human rights standards relating to the freedom of peaceful assembly.
- Section 5 examines Lebanon’s implementation of UPR recommendations and compliance with international human rights standards concerning the freedom of association.
- Section 6 makes recommendations to address the concerns listed.
- An annex lists the implementation of recommendations received by Lebanon during the 2nd UPR cycle that are referenced in this submission.
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