Lebanon: Violence against women and rights of migrants and refugees among the main concerns of the Human Rights Committee

Human Rights Committee's 122nd session - March 2018

Syrian refugees at Lebanese border. Photo credit: Ya Libnan

The third periodic report of Lebanon was reviewed by the Human Rights Committee on the 15th and the 22nd March 2018. The Committee welcomed the re-engagement of Lebanon in the reporting process as the report was submitted with a very long delay. In this context, the Committee expressed appreciation for the opportunity to renew, after more than 20 years, its constructive dialogue with the State party’s delegation on the measures taken during the reporting period to implement the provisions of the Covenant. 

Violence against women, including domestic violence

While welcoming the repeal in August 2017 of article 522 of the Criminal Code that exempted a rapist from criminal liability if he married the victim, the Committee remained concerned about lagoons and shortcomings of existing legislation regarding rape of minors, marital rape, domestic violence and sexual harassment. The Committee also expressed concerns about the lack of official statistics regarding these issues and the limited investigations and prosecution of such cases. 

The State delegation replied that amendments to legislation to allow for the criminalisation of marital rape and to criminalise sexual harassment in the workplace and in the public sphere had been submitted for approval in Parliament.  Also, that a number of measures had been taken to address violence against women, inlcuding the creation of a specialised centre for victims of domestic violence to receive complaints and ensure their temporary shelter while those complaints were investigated.  The State also mentioned trainings of police officers and prosecutors to deal with complaints of domestic violence. 

Asylum-seekers and refugees

The Committee praised Lebanon for hosting a large number of asylum-seekers and refugees, including the more than one million Syrian refugees. However, the Committee expressed concerns, inter alia, about the strict border admission regulations in place since January 2015 that have resulted in restricted access to asylum and push-backs at the border with Syria; reports of prolonged administrative detention of asylum seekers and refugees other than Syrian nationals, including of children, without due process, and their expulsion, and reports of evictions, curfews and raids targeting in particular Syrian refugees.

Recommendations of the Human Rights Committee

Within two years, the State party should provide information on the following recommendations from the Committee´s Concluding Observations:

Violence against women, including domestic and sexual violence

  • Ensure the criminalization of domestic violence, the explicit criminalization of marital rape and of sexual harassment, and the effective implementation of such legislation in practice
  • Amend articles 505 and 518 of the Criminal Code to ensure that perpetrators of rape incur criminal responsibility without exception and regardless of the age of the victim 
  • Strengthen preventive measures, including awareness-raising campaigns to combat violence against women
  • Ensure that law enforcement officers, the judiciary and other relevant stakeholders receive appropriate training on how to detect and deal properly with cases of violence against women
  • Ensure the collection of data on violence against women and that all cases of violence against women are promptly and thoroughly investigated, that perpetrators are prosecuted and, if convicted, punished with appropriate sanctions, and that victims have access to protection and to effective remedies.

Refugees and asylum seekers

  • Ensure that the non-refoulement principle is strictly adhered to in practice, and that all asylum seekers are protected against push-backs at the border and have access to refugee status determination procedures
  • Bring its legislation and practices relating to the detention of asylum seekers and refugees into compliance with article 9 of the Covenant
  • Provide for appeal procedures against decisions regarding detention and deportation
  • Ensure the effective protection of refugees against forced evictions
  • Ensure that any curfews, if applied, are imposed only as a short-term and area-specific exceptional measure, and are lawful and strictly justified under the Covenant
  • Expand the residency fee waiver to include refugees not currently covered.

Migrant domestic workers

  • Expand labour law protection to domestic workers
  • Provide access to effective legal remedies for protection of domestic migrant workers’ rights without fear of reprisal or deportation
  • Abolish the sponsorship (kafala) system and reform recruitment practices with a view to ensuring respect for the rights of domestic workers and protection against exploitation and abuse
  • Set up measures aimed at raising awareness about domestic migrant workers’ rights and existing avenues for their protection.

Lebanon's next periodic report is due by 6 April 2020.

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