In 2023, the Minister of Interior, Judge Bassam Al Mawlawi issued two administrative decisions prohibiting LGBTQI gatherings, saying they conflict with Lebanese customs, norms, and traditions. These legal developments have been viewed as a setback to the right to assemble in Lebanon, especially for those who identify as LGBTQI and wish to express their sexual orientation and gender identity. Please see the Barriers to Assembly and News Items sections below in this report for additional details.
Lebanon’s civil society predates independence in 1943. It first contributed to the establishment of education and academic institutions and throughout the years has played a major role in shaping public opinion. The number of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and civil society organizations (CSOs) has risen consistently, often due to lack of government support in key sectors and fields, such as social services, human rights and freedoms, combatting corruption, and preserving justice and the rule of law. According to the Ministry of Interior and Municipalities, there are currently 11,676 registered associations.
In recent years, through improvements to implementation, Lebanon has established one of the most enabling legal and regulatory environments for civil society in the entire Arab world.
The Lebanese constitution was first drafted in 1926, and its preamble states that Lebanon is a free, independent, and democratic parliamentary republic where freedoms of speech, assembly, and association are guaranteed. Article 13 states that freedom to express one’s opinion orally or in writing, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, and freedom of association shall be guaranteed within the limits established by law. The Lebanese NGO law is the 1909 Ottoman Law on Associations, which has remained in force for more than 100 years. Although this law is quite liberal, it notably diverges from the French Law on Associations—from which it is derived—by requiring that newly formed associations notify the government immediately after they are created. “Secret” or undeclared associations are prohibited and subject to immediate dissolution.
For many years, Lebanese authorities misapplied the Law on Associations, by often taking months, or in some extreme cases years, to deliver a receipt of notification. Without this receipt, associations could not take full advantage of the rights and privileges afforded to registered, legal entities. In 2006, the government issued a new Ministerial Circular with the aim of improving implementation of the Law, most importantly by requiring that receipts be given within 30 days of the date of notification. Nonetheless, CSOs continue to face delays in obtaining a notification receipt despite having fulfilled the filing requirements.
While the Law on Associations is perceived as enabling, CSOs in Lebanon struggle for other reasons. Without a public fund for CSOs or dedicated government budget support, CSOs’ sources of funding are scarce, making them vulnerable to becoming dependent on private funders and utilized for political or sectarian purposes. Further, the influx of refugees from Syria has strained Lebanon’s resources and challenged CSOs’ ability to play a constructive role. The government’s desire to regulate the response to the Syrian crisis has led to tighter restrictions on CSO activities, particularly economic support programs.
Civil society has played a major role in recent years in contributing to the formation of movements and protests against the government’s performance and lack of services and accountability. In addition, CSOs and NGOs played a crucial role in the 2020 Beirut Port blast recovery response where they managed to provide short term and emergency relief and humanitarian assistance, as well as long-term aid to help people cope with the unpredicted crisis coupled with a combination of financial crises and a COVID-19 pandemic.
Since 2020, Lebanon has been suffering not only from a collapsing economy and a dire financial situation, but also from shortages in fuel, medicines, and medical supplies in hospitals. Citizens often have spent their days in never-ending lines to fill their gas tanks and visiting pharmacies looking for medicines they rarely find. People have become desperate to fulfill their basic needs; with more than half of the Lebanese people now under the poverty line, they seem unable to afford, or are too exhausted, to express their opposition to government policy.
The voices that challenge the corrupt system, meanwhile, are subjected to investigations, imprisonment, and accusations of terrorism. In 2021, the armed arrest of two foreign reporters as they were covering the traffic near one Beirut gas stations in a region considered to be under Hezbollah’s authority raised serious questions about the capacity of Lebanese security forces and the role of the state. In sum, Lebanon exhibits chaos, uncertainties, and insecurity and seems to be transforming from a beacon of freedom and tolerance to a country like others in the region that control and dictate public discourse.
Note: A number of laws govern religious endowments or foundations, but there is no law allowing for the creation of non-religious foundations. A separate law governs cooperatives.
|Registration Body||The Ministry of Interior is the main registration body. (The Ministry of Social Affairs approves registration for organizations working in the field of social affairs, while the Ministry of Youth and Sports does likewise for youth- and sports-related organizations.)|
|Approximate Number||At least 8,500, including at least 200 local branches of international organizations, according to the Ministry of Interior.|
|Barriers to Entry||Mandatory notification of association establishment.|
|Barriers to Activities||“Secret” or undeclared associations are prohibited.|
|Barriers to Speech and/or Advocacy||Provisions of the Penal Code and the Audio-Visual Media Law, among others, are used to prosecute individuals for criticizing the government.|
|Barriers to International Contact||n/a|
|Barriers to Resources||n/a|
|Barriers to Assembly||Government has wide discretion to prevent assemblies; assemblies are banned on public roads; and there are excessive criminal penalties for “illegal” assemblies.|
|Population||5,331,203 (2023 est.)|
|Type of Government||Republic|
|Life Expectancy at Birth||Male: 77.6 years
Female: 80.46 years (2023 est.)
|Literacy Rate||Male: 96.9%
Female: 93.3% (2018)
|Religious Groups||Muslim 67.8% (31.9% Sunni, 31.2% Shia, smaller percentages of Alawites and Ismailis), Christian 32.4% (Maronite Catholics are the largest Christian group), Druze 4.5%, very small numbers of Jews, Baha’is, Buddhists, and Hindus (2020 est.)
Note: Data represents the religious affiliation of the citizen population but does not include Lebanon’s sizable Syrian and Palestinian refugee populations. 18 religious sects are recognized.
|Ethnic Groups||Arab: 95%, Armenian: 4%, Other: 1%|
|GDP Per Capita (PPP)||$13,000 (2021 est.)|
Source: The World Factbook. Washington, DC: Central Intelligence Agency, 2023.
|Ranking Body||Rank||Ranking Scale
(best – worst possible)
|UN Human Development Index||112 (2022)||1 – 191|
|World Justice Project Rule of Law Index||106 (2022)||1 – 140|
|Foreign Policy: Fragile States Index||25 (2023)||179 – 1|
|Transparency International||150 (2022)||1 – 180|
|Freedom House: Freedom in the World||Status: Partly Free
Political Rights: 14
Civil Liberties: 29 (2023)
|Free/Partly Free/Not Free
1 – 40
1 – 60
International and Regional Human Rights Agreements
|Key International Agreements||Ratification*||Year|
|International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)||Yes||1972|
|Optional Protocol to ICCPR (ICCPR-OP1)||No||—|
|International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR)||Yes||1972|
|Optional Protocol to ICESCR (OP-ICESCR)||No||—|
|International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD)||Yes||1971|
|Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)||Yes||1997|
|Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women||No||—|
|Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)||Yes||1991|
|International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families (ICRMW)||No||—|
|Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)||Yes||2007|
|Key Regional Agreements||Ratification*||Year|
|Arab Charter on Human Rights||Yes||2011|
* Category includes ratification, accession, or succession to the treaty
The Lebanese Constitution was adopted in 1926 and became the foundation for the Lebanese Republic when the country gained its independence in 1943. It was most recently amended in 1989 in an effort to end Lebanon’s 15-year civil war. Article 13 of the Constitution provides: “The freedom to express one’s opinion orally or in writing, the freedom of the press, the freedom of assembly, and the freedom of association shall be guaranteed within the limits established by law.”
National Laws and Regulations Affecting Sector
Relevant national legislation includes the following:
1. Ottoman Law on Associations of 1909 [English] [عربي]
2. Ottoman Law on Cooperative Societies of 1909
3. Ministry of Interior and Municipalities Circular 10/AM/2006 of 2006 [English] [عربي]
4. Legislative Decree No. 87 on Public Utility Organizations of 1977
Pending NGO Legislative / Regulatory Initiatives
A new draft media law proposed by Member of Parliament Ghassan Mkhayber in cooperation with the NGO Maharat Foundation was sent for parliamentary debate back in 2010. The draft law is still being discussed, especially among several local NGOs engaged in defending freedoms in Lebanon. Civil society has expressed a number of concerns about the draft law, which would contain articles that criminalize free speech and impose jail sentences:
- The draft law does not mention the reasons behind the new media law, nor does it account for the fact that there are already laws regulating this sector (the law of publications, penal code, law on radio and TV, judicial military law, and digital law).
- Article 7 states that social media platforms including blogs and applications are not to be considered tools of publication or broadcast if they do not post or publish in a regularly manner. This could spare these platforms from possible pursuit or prosecution according to the new media law and penal code.
- Article 49 keeps the door open to applying the penal code and other criminal laws to media outlets when these laws do not contradict and conflict with the new law. It also maintains article 209 of the penal code, which considers nearly all means of expression as a tool of publication and thus subject to prosecution.
- Article 16 imposes prior authorization from the National Communication Council.
- Article 54 penalizes the act of publishing or broadcasting any material to incite racial discrimination, hatred, or violence against persons on the basis of their sex, origin, color, orientation, ethnic, religious, or sexual affiliation. The penalty is 25 times the official minimum wage.
- Articles 56 – 59 criminalize defamation and contempt in a variety of contexts, and civil society believes these are pretexts and tools to silence journalists and oppress media outlets.
If you are aware of other pending legal or regulatory initiatives, write to ICNL at firstname.lastname@example.org.
According to the 1909 Law on Associations, an association is a group composed of more than one individual that combines their knowledge and effort in a permanent fashion to achieve a goal which does not include the distribution of profit.
Public Benefit Status
Lebanese associations may obtain a public benefit designation only by an act of Parliament. Because there is no formal procedure, no associations have been awarded public benefit status in a number of years. Public benefit status allows associations to receive public funds, bid for government contracts, and receive limited tax benefits.
Barriers to Entry
According to Lebanon’s 1909 Law on Associations, formation of an association does not require prior approval from the government; rather, the Law requires that the government be notified when an association is formed (Article 2). The notification process entails submitting information including an association’s address, goal, two copies of the association’s bylaws, and the identification cards of its founders to the Ministry of Interior and Municipalities (Article 6). Per a Ministerial circular issued in 2006, the Ministry is required to issue notification receipts within 30 days of receiving the notification; this receipt serves as proof of an association’s legality. In practice, however, the Ministry does not always abide by the 30-day requirement, and the notification receipt may be delayed by several months or more. The receipt is important for an NGO’s functioning, as it is required in order for an NGO to carry out a number of essential activities such as opening a bank account or accessing international funding. Accordingly, a delay in the issuing of the notification receipt has detrimental impact on an NGO’s operations.
Barriers to Operational Activity
“Secret” or undeclared associations are prohibited and subject to dissolution by government authorities, according to Article 6 of the Law on Associations. However, the Lebanese government has not attempted to dissolve any association on these grounds since at least 2006.
Barriers to Speech / Advocacy
The Law on Associations does not include explicit barriers to associations’ speech or advocacy activity. Associations are free to engage on issues of public policy concern. The government has, however, prosecuted association members and activists under provisions of the penal code and the Audio-Visual Media Law for statements that are critical of public officials or foreign heads of state.
In the first half of 2021, Lebanese security authorities pursued journalists, activists, bloggers, lawyers and even artists because of their opinions and posts on social media platforms. Governmental authorities use provisions on defamation, libel, insult, and enticing strife, among others, to silence opposition voices or calls for change. The decline of freedoms in Lebanon is reflected in the country’s increasingly low international rankings.
The cases of summonses and interrogations between April 1 and July 1, 2021 include the following:
- British journalist Matt Kynaston and German freelance journalist Stella Männer were detained by Hezbollah militants and then released to Lebanese authorities. Hezbollah threated journalist Marian Saifeddine and her family.
- Researcher and activist Karim Safieddine was interrogated by military police.
- Lebanese lawyer and founder of the Anti-Corruption Alliance Rami Ollaik was forcibly arrested by security agents.
- Actress and stand-up comedian Shaden was summoned by the Anti-cyber Crimes Bureau for making a farcical request on the government’s e-platform for lockdowns and movement permits.
- Dancer Alexander Paulikevitch was accused of assaulting the internal security forces during the October 17, 2020 uprising and, despite being a civilian,was ordered to appear before the military court. Similarly, activists Sarah Hammoud and Rabih Labaki were summoned to appear before a military court for strongly resisting security officers during the October 17 uprising.
- Lebanese singer Elie Massaad was summonedfor questioning by Lebanese army intelligence after the release of his song entitled “We lost you as a great ruler”.
- Judge Ghada Aoun fileda lawsuit against journalist Dima Sadek and MTV for her expressed opinions.
- The Anti-Cybercrime Bureau interrogated activist Ragheb al-Shoufi due to posts against the Minister of Interior Mohammad Fahmi.
Barriers to International Contact
There are no legal barriers to international contact or communication.
Barriers to Resources
There are no legal barriers to resources, whether from domestic or foreign sources.
Barriers to Assembly
Article 13 of Lebanon’s Constitution provides that “the freedom of assembly…shall be guaranteed within the limits established by law.” The primary law governing the right to assemble is the Ottoman-era Public Assemblies Law of 1911, which was amended in 1931 and again in 1932. Subsequent government directives, such as Ministry of Interior Decree 4082 of 2000, as well as the Lebanese Penal Code also contain provisions relevant to the conduct of public assemblies. In practice, assembly organizers must often obtain a pre-approved permit from the governor of the district where the assembly will take place, if it will obstruct public streets.
In practice, however, these provisions are rarely used, and the government generally allows peaceful assemblies to proceed with few legal restrictions. Police use force to disperse crowds in some circumstances, such as during widespread anti-government protests in Beirut in September and October 2015. When those protests turned violent, security officials used what some considered to be excessive force; several dozen of the thousands of protestors were detained and charged with assault and vandalism under the Penal Code.
Article 3 of the Public Assemblies Law provides that the government may prevent a public assembly that would disturb public security or public order or public morality, and would go against the regular and normal course of public interests. Such broad language, especially with regard to the “regular and normal course of public interests” gives the government substantial discretion to prevent assemblies. In recent years, the government has banned a number of assemblies on grounds that they posed a threat to or would otherwise disturb public security.
The Public Assemblies Law does not require prior authorization before a public assembly may take place, and in fact explicitly provides in Article 1 that no permit is required. However, public assemblies are subject to a process of prior notification. Article 2 of the Law provides that assembly organizers must prepare a “statement paper” and submit it to the Ministry of Interior (if the assembly will be held in Beirut) or the local administrative authority (if to be held outside of Beirut). The statement paper must be submitted at least 48 hours before the date of the assembly, according to Article 4 of the Law. It must include, among other things, the exact time of the assembly, its location, intended purpose, and the names and signatures of at least two assembly participants who reside in the assembly area.
While the law in Lebanon does not specifically provide for spontaneous assemblies, in practice the government generally protects and facilitates such assemblies as long as they are peaceful and participants are unarmed.
Time, Place, Manner Restrictions
The Public Assemblies Law provides certain restrictions on the location and timing of public assemblies. Per the Law, assemblies may not be held in public roads intended for traffic or pedestrian crossing, or within three kilometers from the presidential palace or the parliament. Public assemblies in open spaces may only take place between sunrise and sunset. These broad, blanket constraints on the permissible place and time for assemblies unduly restrict individuals’ ability to peacefully assemble according to international standards.
Under the Law on Public Assemblies, the organizers of an illegal assembly are subject to a prison sentence of between six months and three years, or a monetary fine, or both. In addition, Lebanon’s Penal Code criminalizes “riot demonstrations and assemblies,” which it defines as rallies or parades on a public road or venue, composed of 1) at least three persons, at least one of whom has a weapon and intent to commit a felony or misdemeanor; or 2) at least seven persons intending to demonstrate against a decision or action taken by a public authority; or 3) more than 20 persons suspected of disturbing the public peace. The Penal Code also criminalizes the act of inciting a riot assembly, with a potential penalty of between a month and a year’s imprisonment or monetary fine, or both.
In 2023, the Minister of Interior, Judge Bassam Al Mawlawi issued two administrative decisions prohibiting LGBTQI gatherings, saying they conflict with Lebanese customs, norms, and traditions. These legal developments have been viewed as a setback to the right to assemble in Lebanon, especially for those who identify as LGBTQI and wish to express their sexual orientation and gender identity.
|UN Universal Periodic Review Reports||Universal Periodic Review: Lebanon (November 2, 2015)|
|Reports of UN Special Rapporteurs||Lebanon|
|USIG (United States International Grantmaking) Country Notes||Not available|
|U.S. State Department||2022 Report on Human Rights Practices: Lebanon|
|Fragile States Index Reports||Foreign Policy: Fragile States Index|
|IMF Country Reports||Lebanon and the IMF|
|International Commission of Jurists||Not available|
|International Center for Not-for-Profit Law Online Library||Lebanon|
While we aim to maintain information that is as current as possible, we realize that situations can rapidly change. If you are aware of any additional information or inaccuracies on this page, please keep us informed; write to ICNL at email@example.com.
Attack on Freedoms Targets LGBTI People (October 2023)
Lebanese authorities are systematically attacking the fundamental human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) people, the Coalition to Defend Freedom of Expression in Lebanon, comprised of fifteen Lebanese and international organizations, said. In August 2023, two Lebanese officials introduced separate bills that would explicitly criminalize same-sex relations between consenting adults and punish anyone who “promotes homosexuality” with up to three years’ in prison.
Investigate Assault on Freedom March Protesters (October 2023)
The Lebanese authorities must urgently investigate the violent premeditated assault during a freedom march on 30 September organized by more than 24 civil society organizations to protest the recent crackdown on personal and political freedoms in Lebanon, Amnesty International said. The investigation must also include security forces’ abject failure to protect protesters from the attack.
Hayat Mirshad Summoned for Interrogation… A Battle of Snatching Freedoms and Believing Survivors (May 2023)
In a new attempt to suppress journalists and activists and silence them, The Cybercrime and Intellectual Property Protection Bureau subpoenaed Editor in Chief of “Sharika wa Laken” and the Executive Director of FEMALE Organization, journalist and feminist activist, Hayat Mirshad, to appear before the Bureau next Thursday, on June 1.
Lebanon: Court decision is a blow to freedom of expression and independence of lawyers (May 2023)
As part of the Coalition to Defend Freedom of Expression in Lebanon, MENA Rights Group condemned the Beirut Bar Association’s amendment of the code of ethics, which will now require lawyers to obtain prior permission from the President of the BBA before engaging in any public or media appearances or discussing legal issues on social media, and bans lawyers from criticising the President of the BBA and its council members.
Lebanon’s police fire tear gas as protesters try to storm govt headquarters (March 2023)
Lebanese security forces fired tear gas to disperse hundreds of protesters, mainly retired soldiers, who tried to break through the fence leading to the government headquarters in downtown Beirut. The violence came amid widespread anger over the harsh economic conditions in the country, where mismanagement by the ruling class has been rampant for years, preceding the economic meltdown that started in late 2019. The retired soldiers and policemen demanding better pay clashed with riot police and troops.
Lebanon: No accountability for security forces’ crackdown on protesters since 2019 – report (March 2023)
No law enforcement officials have been prosecuted in Lebanon for their unlawful and excessive use of force against protesters during anti-government protests since 2019, Amnesty International said today as it publishes a new report with the Omega Research Foundation.
Lebanon: Unlawful Crackdown on LGBTI Gatherings Immediately Annul Ban on Assembly; Protect LGBTI People from Attacks (July 2022)
On June 24, 2022, Interior Minister Bassam al-Mawlawi sent an urgent letter to the directorates of Internal Security and General Security instructing them to ban any gatherings aimed at “promoting sexual perversion.” The letter includes vague and overly broad grounds, citing no legal basis, to determine that such gatherings violate “customs and traditions” and “principles of religion.” The interior minister said this decision was in response to calls to his ministry from religious groups to “reject the spread of this phenomenon.” The letter is understood to refer to gatherings by LGBTI groups, citing a message circulated on social media that detailed plans for activities organized by LGBTI activists.
Journalists detained by Hezbollah released to Lebanese authorities (June 2021)
British Journalist Matt Kynaston was reportedly detained in South Beirut while covering the country’s fuel crisis by men claiming to be members of Hezbollah. Kynaston, who reports for Beirut daily, NOW Lebanon, was detained alongside German freelance journalist Stella, Männer. The UK’s Chargé d’Affaires in Lebanon Martin Longden said that he has been in contact with the Lebanese authorities since learning of the incident, and said that Kynaston was currently with the authorities.
Actress Shaden Esperanza summoned by Anti Cyber Crimes Bureau (May 2021)
Lebanese comedian Shaden Fakih announced on social media that the Anti Cyber Crimes Bureau has summoned her for a second investigation on account of her Facebook posts. After leaving the investigation, it turned out that the summons was based on a farcical phone call made by Shaden during the lockdown period. During the call, she had asked the government lockdown e-platform for permission to leave the house in order to buy sanitary pads.
Hezbollah threatens journalist Mariam Seifeddine and her family (May 2021)
Mariam Seif Eddine is a Lebanese journalist known as a staunch critic of Lebanon’s corrupt ruling elite and of Hezbollah’s role in the country. Since the nationwide uprising began on October 17, 2019, Seif Eddine has been subjected to a vicious cyberbullying campaign — insulted, threatened, and accused of being a foreign agent. Armed men, including one of her own family members who she said is a member of Hezbollah, twice attacked her family in their home in Beirut’s southern suburbs, a Hezbollah stronghold. The attackers broke her brother’s nose, punched her mother and father in the face, hurled sexual insults at her, and threatened to kill her family members as one of the men brandished a gun.
Lokman Slim: Prominent Hezbollah critic shot dead in Lebanon (February 2021)
A prominent critic of the powerful Lebanese Shia Islamist militant group Hezbollah has been shot dead. The body of Lokman Slim, a Shia writer and activist, was found inside his car in southern Lebanon. Lebanon’s prime minister condemned the “heinous crime”, which the EU’s ambassador called an “assassination”. Security officials said there were no suspects yet, but Mr Slim had blamed leaders of Hezbollah and its allies for death threats he received in late 2019.
Military prosecutor brings terrorism charges against Tripoli protesters (February 2021)
In an unusual move that appears to represent an escalation in Lebanese authorities’ response to crimes committed by protesters, a military court official has brought terrorism charges against 35 people in relation to last month’s violent protests in Tripoli. Ayman Raad, one of a group of lawyers representing the Tripoli protesters and who had also represented other protesters arrested in the mass protests of 2019 and 2020, told L’Orient Today that to the attorneys’ knowledge, this is the first time terrorism charges have been brought against protesters at least since the beginning of the Oct. 17, 2019, uprising.
Clashes over lockdowns, inequality escalate in Lebanon’s Tripoli after protester’s death (January 2021)
A man was killed in the Lebanese city of Tripoli on Thursday in clashes between security forces and protesters angry over a strict lockdown that has cut off livelihoods in a collapsing economy. Omar Taybah, 30, was hit by a bullet overnight, according to a local hospital that treated him. Dozens marched at his funeral during the day. Witnesses and local media said police had fired live bullets as protesters tried to storm the northern city’s government building. Scores of people were wounded.
Judge acquits 14 activists accused of vandalism during 2015 protests (December 2020)
Fourteen demonstrators, accused of having committed acts of vandalism during the protest movements carried out in October 2015 against the backdrop of the waste crisis, were acquitted Monday by Nadia Jadayel, the sole criminal judge of Beirut. The halt in the proceedings contrasts with the current trend of violent repression of protesters and the dismissal of protesters simply because they demonstrated, sometimes violently, against a ruling caste that deprives them of their fundamental rights. Beyond the acquittal, this judgment constitutes a precedent, as it represents a real plea for the defense of citizens in the face of the negligence of public authorities.
Cash-strapped Lebanon plans to charge for WhatsApp calls (October 2019)
Lebanon’s cabinet has agreed to impose a fee on calls over WhatsApp and other similar applications, as part of efforts to raise revenues in the country’s 2020 draft budget, a minister said on Thursday. Lebanon has low growth, crumbling infrastructure and one of the world’s highest debt burdens, and is facing strains in its financial system from a slowdown in capital inflows. The government has declared a state of “economic emergency” and promised steps to ward off a crisis.
Security Forces Use Excessive Force Against Protesters (October 2019)
Lebanon’s security forces used excessive and unnecessary force against protesters in downtown Beirut on October 18, 2019, Human Rights Watch said today. The Internal Security Force’s riot police fired tear gas at thousands of largely peaceful protesters, including children, in downtown Beirut. The army cleared the areas, sometimes using excessive force, as riot police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at fleeing protesters. Videos show security forces apparently using excessive force against protesters. A local TV station showed footage that appeared to show a riot police officer violently kicking and beating a protester. In a video shared by a local journalist, a soldier appeared to repeatedly hit a fallen protester with a baton as another soldier seems to try to stop the journalist from filming. Images circulated on social media show individuals lined up face down on the streets after apparently being arrested by the security forces for participating in the protests. Human Rights Watch was not able to independently verify these images.
Lebanon Protests Unite Sects in Demanding New Government (October 2019)
Lebanon’s protests, the largest since its independence, have moved from fury over the economy and corruption to demands for a new political system. The two new protesters smiled for the camera on a rooftop over downtown Beirut, marking what felt like history with a selfie. The view was new to them: Hundreds of thousands of Lebanese of every sectarian affiliation danced and chanted in the street below, the little-seen Lebanese flag suddenly everywhere. “The politicians told us that we hate each other, but we don’t,” said Fatima Hammoud, 23. “I’m from a specific sect. My friend is from a specific sect. But we’re all here together for our futures and our children’s futures. We don’t want to live the way our parents lived.”
Lebanon is experiencing a social revolution (October 2019)
The protests may not lead to political change, but they have already transcended Lebanon’s traditional social divides. Since October 17, Lebanese citizens from all walks of life have been taking to the streets in unprecedented protests that transcend not only sectarian lines but also class and regional ones. What unites the protesters are demands for the Lebanese cabinet, which was formed in January of this year, to resign. For the past 10 months, it has failed to save Lebanon from a worsening financial crisis predominantly caused by government mismanagement and corruption that predated its formation.
‘Change the system’: Lebanese protesters tell the government (October 2019)
In downtown Beirut, thousands of Lebanese protesters gathered for the sixth day, despite sweeping economic reform measures announced by the prime minister a day earlier, calling for the government to resign. Chants of “Peacefully! Peacefully! This is a peaceful revolution!” reverberated Lebanese capital’s Riyad al-Solh square a day after Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced a package of reforms that included a 50-percent reduction in salary for politicians and the establishment of an anti-corruption panel. Protesters say they’d like to see power handed over to a transitional council made up of judges with no political affiliation until elections are held. Behind the square, which has been the centre of protests since Thursday, barbed wire blocked the path to the Grand Serail, the headquarters of the prime minister.
Lebanon Scraps WhatsApp Tax as Protests Rage (October 2019)
Protests raged for a second day in Lebanon despite the government backtracking on plans to tax WhatsApp calls. The government had announced a $0.20 (£0.16) daily charge on voice calls made through WhatsApp and other apps. But it scrapped the plans hours later amid clashes between security forces and protesters. Thousands have protested, calling on the government to step down over its handling of an economic crisis.
Byblos Festival Drops Mashrou’ Leila (July 2019)
After a campaign led by the Catholic (Maronite) Church and backed by politicians and religious groups, a planned concert by the band Mashrou’ Leila was cancelled under pretext that their songs are blasphemous and violate religious values. The concert was part of Byblos International Festival’s planned events for summer 2019. Festival officials indicated in a statement that the cancellation aimed to avoid “bloodshed”, following violent threats against the band and festival that were issued on social media.
Beirut Municipality Postpones Waste Incinerator Decision Amid Protest (June 2019)
Following numerous protests by environmental activists and civil society groups against the building of a waste incinerator to end an ongoing garbage crisis, the Beirut municipality postponed its decision regarding the incinerator’s construction.
Palestinian refugees protest Lebanese government crackdown on unlicensed workers (July 2019)
Hundreds of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon protested in the capital Beirut and around their refugee camps against the government’s crackdown on businesses hiring foreign workers without permits. Demonstrators on Tuesday also demanded the Lebanese ministry of labour overturn a rule that requires Palestinian workers to obtain a work permit in order to gain employment.
Anti-Cybercrime Bureau interrogates Bisri Dam activists (July 2019)
A number of activists critical of the controversial Bisri Dam project have been interrogated by the Internal Security Forces’ Anti-Cybercrime Bureau over comments on Facebook, in what they have described as the latest attempt to silence their opposition. These summons and interrogations were considered by many local NGOs involved in human rights as a violation of freedom of expression.
Security Forces Try to Close LGBT Conference (September 2018)
Lebanese General Security officers unlawfully attempted to shut down a conference on the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people on September 29, 2018, Human Rights Watch said today. Human Rights Watch staff members were among the participants at NEDWA, a conference organized by the Arab Foundation for Freedoms and Equality (AFE), a group that works to advance LGBT and other human rights. General Security is an intelligence branch of Lebanese security forces and is the agency that oversees the entry and exit of foreigners into the country.
The Establishment of Lebanon’s Judges Club (April 2018)
After more than a decade of discussion, the Lebanese Judges Association or “Lebanon’s Judges Club” was established on April 30, 2018. The formation of the association, with its objective of fostering an independent, apolitical judiciary in Lebanon, was considered an achievement given initial obstacles it faced.
Lebanon’s civil society challenges traditional parties in upcoming vote (March 2018)
Rampant corruption, successive dysfunctional governments, poor economic conditions and rising unemployment, among other problems, constitute the backdrop against which Lebanon’s first general elections in nearly a decade are to take place. A new election law introduces aspects of proportional representation for the first time in Lebanon, offering an opportunity for breakthroughs in different constituencies by political alternatives to traditional parties. A new dynamic initiated by the law contributed to the rise of new political alliances by “civil society actors” to participate in the May 6 elections. “They (civil society groups) have a chance to breakthrough in all electoral constituencies, especially in the big ones like Beirut, Mount Lebanon and even the (Hezbollah-dominated) south and Baalbek-Hermel district,” said political analyst Amine Kammourieh.
Human Rights Watch: Lebanon – Time for Action on Rights Abuses (January 2017)
Lebanon’s human rights situation deteriorated in 2016 amid longstanding human rights concerns, a waste management crisis, refugee concerns, and attacks on freedom of expression and dissent, Human Rights Watch said. The government’s failure to provide basic services, including timely and sanitary garbage removal, led to protests, with some protesters prosecuted before military tribunals. Criminal defamation laws were used against others who spoke out against the government. Detainees are subjected to ill-treatment and torture. Nonetheless, the establishment of a new government is an opportunity to turn the situation around by passing urgently needed legislative and policy reforms.
Beirut protest turns violent, politicians postpone talks (April 2015)
Security forces used tear gas and water cannons against thousands of protestors in Beirut, leading to dozens of injured. Public discontent has erupted in recent months over government corruption and poor infrastructure, particularly in trash disposal.
Beyond Reform and Development issues Civil Society Mapping Report (April 2015)
This study assesses the situation of the civil society sector in Lebanon, including its main areas of focus, sources of funding, challenges, and recommendations. This study comes under the framework of the Civil Society Facility – South program funded by the European Union, and was conducted in partnership with the EU and Trantsec.
Lebanese NGO awarded fifth place in Global Intercultural Innovation Award 2014 (October 2014)
Arcenciel, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) based in Lebanon has been awarded fifth place among a competitive field of 11 finalists vying for the prestigious Intercultural Innovation Award (IIA) for 2014. The award was presented in Bali, Indonesia at a ceremony held on August 28th in conjunction with the 6th Global Forum amongst an audience that included heads of state, dignitaries and representatives of the 144 member countries comprising the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC), as well as civil society groups and the media. Arcenciel was awarded for its novel Cirqu’enciel programme described as a “Circus School in the Service of Intercultural Dialogue”. The programme includes a circus training school that helps integrate Lebanon’s marginalized youth from differing cultural backgrounds to gain a foothold into society by encouraging them to train and perform in different circus acts.
Palestinian refugees in Lebanon protest against UNRWA (September 2013)
Palestinians in Nahr al-Bared refugee camp in Lebanon protested against the UN agency for Palestinian refugees two days in a row. Political factions, commitees and organizations in the camp are on an open strike against “oppressive” procedures implemented by UNRWA, local leaders said. Palestinians in the camp say UNRWA implemented a new policy on Sept. 1 which ended emergency healthcare for refugees, affecting people with chronic illnesses who will no longer be eligible for free treatment.
Civil society leaders call for dialogue (November 2012)
Prominent civil society leaders gathered to throw their support behind President Michel Suleiman’s call for National Dialogue and to call for the implementation of the Baabda Statement and Taif Accord. “Civil society stands behind the president in calling all parties to implement the Baabda Statement, issued during the Dialogue Session on June 11, 2012.” the group, Civil Society’s Dialogue Table, said in a statement at the Press Federation.
Employees at the Casino of Lebanon protest (November 2012)
Employees working in the Casino of Lebanon protest defending their right to receive long term contracts.
Security Forces harass protestors sexually (October 2012)
Security forces are performing sexual verbal and physical violence against protestors.
Students protest against increased tuition fees (October 2012)
Students of the Lebanese University protest against trebling the tuition fees and assure that they will not pay their fees if the raise remains effective.
Protestors are beaten and insulted (September 2012)
Few young people who gathered to demand the adoption of civil marriage were exposed to attacks by the police.
Public Sector Employees and Educational Bodies on Strike (July 2012)
Upon the invitation of the trade union coordinating body, public sector employees and educational bodies protest defending their rights.
Labor laws in Lebanon heat up on heels of ILO signing (July 2012)
Despite government ministers’ assertions that civil servants were wrong to engage in protests, the recent signing of the International Labor Organization convention by the labor minister guarantees the “Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize.” A source close to Labor Minister Salim Jreissati said that international conventions supersede local laws, and that the Cabinet had committed itself to the convention after the minister signed it. The source noted that local laws contradicting this convention should be amended.
NGO works to teach armed groups about humanitarian law (June 2012)
Although many armed groups are initially reluctant to work with Geneva Call, an independent organization dedicated to engaging non-state actors about international humanitarian law, the Palestinian Liberation Organization in Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp in Lebanon actually approached the NGO themselves. “They asked us to help in … disseminating among their cadres and among the security forces in the camp, humanitarian standards,” Armin Kohli, Geneva Calls’ program officer for the Middle East, told The Daily Star in an interview Monday.
NGOs call for approval of electoral law and reject postponing elections (May 2012)
A group of NGOs called on the government to approve a new electoral law before June and rejected attempts to postpone next year’s parliamentary elections. The Civil Campaign for Electoral Reforms, a group of about 40 domestic NGOs, held a news conference at the UNESCO Palace to review various proposals for a new election law, particularly a draft law based on a system of proportional representation and the right of Lebanese in the Diaspora to vote. The group said that “although the parliamentary polls are 13 months away, there is only one month left from the deadline set by the government to speed up measures to adopt an electoral law at least one year ahead of the election date in 2013” and that “postponement of the elections is unacceptable because it constituted a violation of the most basic principles of democracy which calls for a rotation of power.”