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Title: Lebanon Human Rights Practices, 1995
Author:  U.S. Department of State
Date:  March 1996




                            LEBANON


Lebanon is a parliamentary republic in which the President is by 
tradition a Maronite Christian, the Prime Minister a Sunni Muslim, and 
the Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies a Shi'a Muslim.  The Parliament 
consists of 128 deputies, equally divided between Christian and Muslim 
representatives.

Non-Lebanese military forces control much of Lebanon.  These include 
about 30,000 Syrian troops, a contingent of Israeli army regulars, an 
Israeli-supported militia in southern Lebanon, and several armed 
Palestinian factions.  All undermine the authority of the central 
Government and prevent the application of law in areas not under its 
control.  In 1991 the Governments of Lebanon and Syria concluded a 
security agreement which provides a framework for cooperation between 
their armed forces.  However, Syrian military and intelligence units in 
Lebanon conduct their activities independently of the agreement.

In 1989 the Arab League brokered a peace settlement at Taif, Saudi 
Arabia, to end the hostilities in Lebanon.  According to the Taif 
Accord, Syrian troops were scheduled to be redeployed from Lebanon's 
coastal population areas to the Biqa' Valley, with full redeployment to 
take place thereafter.  The Syrian Government has refused to carry out 
that redeployment.  Lebanese government officials have not pressed the 
issue, citing such reasons as the Lebanese Army's alleged unreadiness to 
take over security functions from Syrian forces.  However, pervasive 
Syrian influence over Lebanese politics and decisionmakers lies at the 
root of the Government's unwillingness to engage Syrian authorities on 
the withdrawal.  This relationship with Syria does not reflect the will 
of significant segments of the Lebanese public.

Israel exerts control in and near its self-proclaimed "security zone" in 
southern Lebanon through its surrogate, the South Lebanon Army (SLA), 
and the presence of about 1,000 Israeli troops.  The SLA maintains a 
separate and arbitrary system of justice in the zone independent of 
Lebanese central authority.  SLA officials have reportedly deported some 
alleged criminals to Israel to face legal charges.  Also in south 
Lebanon, the Iranian-backed Shi'a Muslim militia, Hizballah, and allied 
Palestinian guerrillas continue to be locked in a cycle of raids and 
counterraids with Israeli forces and the SLA.

Palestinian groups operate autonomously in refugee camps throughout the 
country and maintain a separate, arbitrary system of justice for other 
Palestinians.  During the year, the Government continued to consolidate 
its authority in the parts of the country under its control, but has 
made little effort to disarm Hizballah and its allies, the SLA, or to 
reassert state control over the Palestinian refugee camps.

The security forces comprise the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), which may 
arrest and detain suspects on national security grounds; the Internal 
Security Forces (ISF) which enforce laws, conduct searches and arrests, 
and refer cases to the judiciary; and the State Security apparatus and 
the Surete Generale, both of which collect information on groups that 
may jeopardize state security.  The Surete Generale is also responsible 
for the issuance of passports and residency permits and for the 
censorship of foreign periodicals and movies that treat national-
security issues.

Before the 1975-90 hostilities, Lebanon was an important financial and 
commercial center.  The war weakened its commercial leadership and 
inflicted massive damage on the economic infrastructure.  In 1995 the 
economy continued to recover as the Government took steps to restore 
confidence and implement a reconstruction program.

Since the end of hostilities, the Government has made no substantial 
effort to improve human rights conditions.  Government abuses included 
the arbitrary arrest and detention of persons opposing government 
policies.  The Government continued to ban demonstrations and partially 
limit press freedom.  There were credible reports that members of the 
security forces used excessive force and tortured some detainees.  
Prison conditions remained poor.  Discrimination against women is a 
problem.  Although the overall level of armed conflict declined, life 
and property, especially in the south, are still threatened by artillery 
and aerial attacks by the various contending forces.  These forces 
continue to carry out abductions, assassinations, and terrorist 
bombings.  The right of the people to change their government continued 
to deteriorate.  In May Parliament approved a law extending the term of 
municipal officials until December 31, 1996, thereby postponing 
elections which would have been required by June.  Municipal elections 
have not been held since 1963.  In October the Government secured 
passage of a constitutional amendment to extend the term of the current 
president by 3 years.  That move met widespread opposition and cast 
further doubt on the ability of the citizens to change their government.

RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

Section 1  Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom 
from:

  a.  Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing

During the year, political killings declined as the Government further 
consolidated its authority over the country.  However, at least one 
death was caused by the excessive use of force when on June 18 an ISF 
sergeant shot and killed the driver of a car that failed to stop at an 
ISF checkpoint.  The sergeant was tried and sentenced to 1 year 
imprisonment.  The Government has appealed for a more severe punishment.

Various factions and unknown persons carried out assassinations.  On 
August 31, unidentified assailants shot and killed Shaykh Nizar Al-
Halabi, a Sunni cleric who headed a socio-political organization.  Both 
the Nation's Party, an unknown group, and the Fatah-Revolutionary 
Council-The Correct Path claimed responsibility.  On July 3, Ahmad Al-
Assa'ad, the son of a former Speaker of Parliament, escaped harm when 
assailants threw hand grenades at him during a political rally which he 
had organized and at which he was speaking.  The Government has not 
publicly investigated the incident nor arrested several persons 
identified as suspects.

There were no developments in the 1994 death of Tariq Hasaniyah, who was 
allegedly beaten to death by authorities at the Bayt Al-Din Prison, nor 
in the 1994 death of Fawzi Al-Rasi, who died while in the custody of the 
Ministry of Defense.

On December 13, after six procedural postponements, the Court of 
Cassation began its retrial of Bassem Al-Firkh and Nameq Kamal for their 
roles in the 1976 murders of U.S. Ambassador Francis Meloy, economic 
officer Robert Waring, and their driver Muhammad Mughrabi.  In 1994 the 
Criminal Court declined to convict Al-Firkh on grounds that, while he 
participated in the abduction of Meloy and his colleagues, he did not 
participate in the actual killings.  Kidnaping during the political 
strife from 1975 to 1990 is pardonable by Lebanon's 1991 Amnesty Law, 
but the assassination of diplomats is not.  However, the same court 
found Kamal guilty of the murders and sentenced him to death.  His 
sentence was later reduced to 4 years.  In ordering the retrial of Al-
Firkh and Kamal, the Court of Cassation agreed with the public 
prosecutor's argument that the abduction and murder constitute one crime 
which cannot be separated.

In 1994 security forces arrested three Iraqi diplomats assigned to 
Beirut and charged them with the murder of an Iraqi dissident.  
According to press reports, the suspects have admitted their guilt, but 
as of the end of the year no trial has yet been held.  In June one of 
the diplomats died while in custody.

  b.  Disappearance

In February armed militia members kidnaped two persons from the Jazzine 
district and held them in captivity for 4 days.  Credible sources 
claimed that Hizballah was responsible for the abduction.  The 
Government did not investigate the incident or take measures to prevent 
such incidents from occurring in future.

The Government has taken no judicial action against groups known to be 
responsible for the kidnapings of thousands of people during the unrest 
between 1975 to 1990.  On May 25, Parliament approved a law which will 
allow those who disappeared during the civil war to officially be 
declared dead.  The law stipulates that interested parties may declare 
as dead any Lebanese or foreigner who has disappeared in Lebanon or 
abroad and for whose disappearance death was the most probable 
explanation.  Petitioners may apply for a court certification 4 years 
after a declaration of disappearance and may not benefit from any 
properties inherited until 6 years after such a court certification.  
The law will facilitate the resolution of inheritance claims and second 
marriages.

  c.  Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or 
Punishment

There continued to be credible reports that the Lebanese security forces 
used torture on some detainees.  During the June Shi'a Muslim 
commemoration of Ashura in a Sunni neighborhood, several young Sunni 
males were arrested and allegedly beaten by members of the ISF.  Some 
members of Parliament accused the ISF of torturing the detainees with 
electric shocks and called on the Minister of Interior to investigate.  
The Minister ordered an investigation, but had not published any 
findings by year's end.

In April the Lebanese Association for Human Rights claimed that the 
Government had failed to take action on the kidnaping and torture of 
citizens by various militias.  The Association formed an investigative 
committee to pursue this issue.  In October two Russian tourists 
complained that they had been beaten and then detained in the local 
Hizballah Party headquarters in the southern suburbs of Beirut for 
having taken pictures.  In response the Government took no action.

In August lawyer Majid Fayyad complained publicly that security officers 
mistreated his client, Ibtissam Nimr Al-'Abd, who had been arrested in 
connection with the murder investigation of her husband Munir Al-
Ghadban.  The lawyer claimed that his client was beaten, insulted, and 
burned with cigarettes while in custody.  The Government has not 
investigated the allegation.

The prison system is regulated by law.  In January the Government issued 
a special decree legalizing a detention facility at the Ministry of 
Defense (MOD) headquarters building outside Beirut.  Samir Ja'ja', the 
former leader of the dissolved Lebanese Forces militia, has been 
incarcerated in this facility since April 1994.  The Government 
justifies the incarceration of Ja'ja' as one of only a handful of 
inmates at the high security MOD facility as a precautionary measure to 
ensure his safety.  Ja'ja's lawyers have alleged that he has been 
mistreated while in prison and that his health has been 

jeopardized by his inadequately ventilated, poorly lit cell three floors 
below ground.  In November a prison doctor reported that Ja'ja' was in 
good health, and prison authorities have allowed him increased daily 
exercise.  Ja'ja' is not allowed to receive newspapers or have a radio 
or television set, but in December the public prosecutor granted his 
request for a bible and selected books and magazines.

Prison conditions do not meet internationally recognized minimum 
standards.  Inmates lack heat and adequate shower and toilet facilities.  
The Ministry of Interior has acknowledged publicly that the prisons are 
overcrowded, with 50 to 60 prisoners often housed in one cell.  There 
are as many as 60 children detained in prisons, sharing the same 
facilities as adult prisoners.  In June the Parliament's Human Rights 
Commission raised the issue of prison conditions in a letter to the 
Interior Minister, who promised to undertake an investigation.  At 
year's end, the Interior Ministry had not released its findings.  
However, the Interior Minister announced in December a $50 million 
budgetary request to rehabilitate the prison system.

In addition to the regular prisons, the Surete Generale, which is 
responsible for the prevention of the illegal entry of foreigners, also 
operates a detention facility.  Hundreds of foreigners--mostly Egyptians 
and Sri Lankans--have been detained there pending deportation.  They are 
reportedly held in small, poorly ventilated cells.

Abuses also occurred in areas outside the State's authority, especially 
in the Palestinian refugee camps.  There were credible reports that 
members of the various Palestinian groups which control the camps 
detained and tortured their Palestinian rivals.

  d.  Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

The Government resorts to arbitrary arrest and detention.  The law 
requires security forces to obtain arrest warrants before making 
arrests.  However, military prosecutors, who are responsible for cases 
involving the military as well as those involving espionage, treason, 
weapons possession, and draft evasion, reportedly issue blank warrants 
to be completed after a suspect has been arrested.  Arresting officers 
must refer a suspect to a prosecutor within 24 hours of arrest, but 
frequently do not.

The law requires the authorities to release suspects after 48 hours of 
arrest if they do not bring formal charges against them.  Some 
prosecutors flout this requirement and detain suspects for long periods 
in pretrial confinement without a court order.  The law authorizes a 
judge to remand suspects to incommunicado detention for a period of 10 
days, with an extension for an additional 10 days.  There is a system of 
bail, but it is only available to those accused of petty crimes, not to 
those accused of felonies.  Defendants have the right to legal counsel, 
but there is no public defender's office.  The Bar Association has an 
office to assist those who cannot afford a lawyer.

The army continued the practice of arbitrary arrest, detaining mainly 
the former members of the Lebanese Forces (LF), the dissolved Christian 
militia.  In March security forces arrested 30 LF supporters for having 
participated in a commemorative gathering on the first anniversary of 
the bombing of a church in the Al-Zuq area north of Beirut.  Attendees 
had gathered both to remember those who had died and to protest the 
arrest of former LF leader Samir Ja'ja' and other LF members who were 
accused of committing that bombing (see Sections 1.c. and 1.e.).

Local militias and non-Lebanese forces continued to conduct arbitrary 
arrests in areas outside central Government control.  The SLA detains an 
estimated 100-200 Lebanese citizens and an undetermined number of 
Palestinians at Al-Khiyam prison in south Lebanon.  During the year, the 
SLA began to permit the families of detainees to visit their relatives 
in the prison.  It also released 73 detainees, most of whom are Lebanese 
citizens.

Israel is known to hold several Lebanese citizens, including Sheikh Abed 
Karim Obaid and Mustafa Dirani, figures associated with the so-called 
Islamic Resistance.

Palestinian refugees are subject to arrest, detention, and harassment by 
the state security forces, Syrian security forces, the various militias, 
and rival Palestinians.

In the recent past, the Government resorted to exile as a means of 
punishment.  In 1991 it pardoned former army commander General Michel 
'Awn and two of his aides, on condition that they depart the country and 
remain in exile for 5 years.  General 'Awn acted as prime minister from 
1988 to 1990 and was accused of usurping power.  He and his aides remain 
in exile.

  e.  Denial of Fair Public Trial

The judiciary is generally impartial and independent of executive 
authority.  However, influential politicians and Syrian intelligence 
officers sometimes intervene to protect their clients from prosecution.

The judicial system is composed of the regular civilian courts; military 
courts, which try cases involving military personnel; the Judicial 
Council, which tries national security offenses; and the religious 
tribunals of the various denominations which adjudicate disputes 
involving marriage, inheritance, and personal status.

The Judicial Council is a permanent tribunal of five senior judges who 
adjudicate cases involving threats to state security.  On the 
recommendation of the Minister of Justice, the Cabinet decides whether 
to try a case before this tribunal.

The Ministry of Justice appoints judges according to a formula based on 
the confessional affiliation of the prospective judge.  The shortage of 
judges has impeded efforts to adjudicate cases backloged during the 
years of internal conflict.

Trials delays are also caused by the Government's inability to conduct 
investigations in areas outside its control.  According to the Minister 
of Interior, at least 600 prisoners were in detention awaiting trial 
during some parts of 1995.

In June the Military Court found Hassan Yassin, Wafiq Nasser, and Suhayi 
Al-Homsi guilty of participation in the 1994 bombing deaths of Hizballah 
figure Fu'ad Mughniyah and two other persons.  The court sentenced 
Yassin and Nasser to 15 years of hard labor and Al-Homsi to 3 years of 
hard labor.  The Government also convicted in absentia Ahmad Al-Hallaq, 
Tawfiq Nasser, and Ghassan Al-Homsi.  Al-Hallaq and Nasser were given 
death sentences and Al-Homsi life with hard labor.  The military 
prosecutor appealed several of the verdicts, asking for a more severe 
punishment.  The appeal was pending at year's end.

In June the Judicial Council found former Lebanese Forces commander 
Samir Ja'ja' and co-defendant Kamil Karam guilty of the 1990 murders of 
Liberal Party leader Dany Chamoun and his family.  Ja'ja' was sentenced 
to death, commuted to life in prison at hard labor; Karam was sentenced 
to 15 years, commuted to 10 years.  Another defendant, Rafiq Saade, was 
found innocent of murder, but sentenced to 1 year already served on a 
weapons charge.  Nine others charged in the murders, all of whom fled 
the country prior to their indictments, were found guilty of one or more 
murders.  Ghassan Touma, Tony Obeid, Atef Boulos Habre, Naja Anis 
Kaddam, and Elias Georges Awad were sentenced in absentia to death, 
commuted to life in prison.  Jean Chahine, Georges Feghali, Elie Akiki, 
and Jean Samia were sentenced in absentia to 15 years, commuted to 10 
years.  All were ordered to pay a nominal sum as compensation to the 
relatives of the murdered.  The verdict of the Judicial Council is not 
subject to appeal.  The Government is seeking the extradition of those 
outside of Lebanon.

The 1994 Al-Zuq church bombing trial, in which Ja'ja' is also a 
defendant, was continued indefinitely (sine die) in May.  In December 
Ja'ja' was indicted for plotting the 1991 assassination attempt on then 
Minister of Defense Michel Murr.  December also saw the beginning of the 
trial of Ja'ja' and Rafiq Saade for the 1990 assassination of former 
Kata'ib Party member Dr. Ilyas Al-Zayek.

The legal system is discriminatory in its handling of so-called crimes 
of honor.  According to the Penal Code, the male killer of a wife, 
sister, or mother may benefit from a reduced sentence if he can 
demonstrate that he committed the crime in response to an illegitimate 
sexual relationship conducted by the victim.

In refugee camps, Palestinian elements operate an autonomous and 
arbitrary system of justice.  The Islamic militia, Hizballah, which 
operates its own system of justice, announced in 1994 that it will apply 
Islamic law in areas under its control.

There were no reports of political prisoners, although the authorities 
often detain for short periods and without charges political opponents 
of the Syrian and Lebanese governments.

  f.  Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 
Correspondence

While the authorities generally show little interest in controlling the 
personal lives of citizens, they are not reluctant to interfere with the 
privacy of persons regarded as foes of the Government.  Laws require 
that prosecutors obtain warrants before entering houses except when the 
army is in hot pursuit of an armed attacker.

The Government uses informer networks and monitors telephones to gather 
information on its adversaries.  In May the Prime Minister announced 
that he would refer cases to the Prosecutor-General to prevent the 
intelligence services from tapping telephone conversations.  
Additionally, in a note to the Post and Telecommunications Ministry, the 
Prime Minster said that he would hold private cellular phone companies 
responsible should they allow government agencies to tap cellular phones 
without warrants.

Militias and non-Lebanese forces operating outside areas of central 
government authority have frequently violated rights of privacy.  
Various factions also use informer networks and monitor telephones to 
obtain information on their adversaries.

  g.  Use of Excessive Force and Violations of Humanitarian Law in 
Internal Conflicts

An undetermined number of civilians continue to be killed in South 
Lebanon, as Hizballah and its associated Lebanese and Palestinian 
militias, on the one hand, and Israeli forces and the SLA, on the other, 
engage in a cycle of violence.  The former attacked SLA troops deployed 
on Lebanese soil and in June conducted a rocket attack on northern 
Israel.  Israeli forces conducted repeated air strikes and artillery 
barrages on purported guerrilla and terrorist targets inside Lebanon.

There were numerous incidents in the cycle of attack and reprisal.  For 
example, in January Israeli forces in south Lebanon employed flechette 
artillery rounds in an exchange with the Islamic Resistance.  Several 
rounds inadvertently struck a contingent of Nepalese soldiers assigned 
to the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), wounding three 
of them.  In December three Norwegian soldiers assigned to UNIFIL were 
wounded, one seriously, by a similar Israeli artillery round.  Three 
Lebanese children were killed on July 9 when their home was hit by fire 
from an Israeli tank.  In retaliation the Islamic Resistance fired 
rockets at settlements in northern Israel.  Rocket attacks on civilians 
in northern Israel again took place on November 28 when Hizballah forces 
launched more than 30 Katuysha rockets.

Beginning in February, Israeli forces imposed a naval blockade along the 
southern Lebanese coast around Tyre, preventing fishermen from carrying 
on their activities.  The blockade continued throughout 1995.  In 
November the Israeli Navy captured fishermen off the coast of Tyre in 
south Lebanon and confiscated their boat.  Three of the fishermen were 
taken to Naqura and released shortly thereafter; two other fishermen 
were allegedly interrogated, beaten, and released 8 hours after their 
abduction.

In August the Israeli air force raided two Popular Front for the 
Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC) bases, one in Sultan 
Ya'acoub in the western Biqa' Valley, and one in the area of Na'ameh, 
about 15 kilometers south of Beirut.  On October 15, Hizballah 
guerrillas ambushed an Israeli patrol in southern Lebanon, killing six 
soldiers and wounding one.

In June fighting broke out in the Ain Al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp 
in southern Lebanon between rival Palestinian factions.  Six persons 
died and 30 were wounded during the approximately 48 hours of fighting.

Section 2  Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

  a.  Freedom of Speech and Press

The Government generally respects the constitutional right to freedom of 
the press.  However, it partially limits this freedom, or intimidates 
journalists into practicing self-censorship.

Lebanon has a long history of freedom of opinion, speech, and the press.  
Although there were repeated attempts to muzzle these freedoms during 
the year, daily, vocal criticism of government policies and leaders 
continues.  Dozens of newspapers and magazines are published throughout 
Lebanon, financed by various Lebanese and foreign groups.  While the 
press is normally independent, press content often reflects the opinions 
of these financial backers.

The Government has several legal tools at its disposal to control the 
freedom of expression.  The Surete Generale is authorized to approve all 
foreign magazines and nonperiodical works including plays, books, and 
films before they are distributed in the market.  The law prohibits 
attacks on the dignity of the head of state or foreign leaders.  The 
Government may prosecute offending journalists and publications in the 
Publications Court, a special court empowered to try such matters.

Moreover, the 1991 security agreement between Lebanon and Syria contains 
a provision that effectively prohibits the publication of any 
information deemed harmful to the security of either state.  Under the 
risk of prosecution, Lebanese journalists censor themselves on matters 
related to Syria.

During the year, army intelligence officers reportedly discouraged 
journalists from writing favorably about former Lebanese Forces militia 
commander Samir Ja'ja' who was tried for the 1990 murders of political 
leader Dany Chamoun and his family, the 1994 Al-Zuq church bombing, and 
the 1990 assassination of former Kata'ib Party member Dr. Ilyas Al-Zayek 
(see Section 1.e.).  Several journalists were summoned to the army 
intelligence headquarters where they were questioned for several hours 
before being released.

On March 25, student Joseph Noujaym was abducted from his house by 
security officers because he allegedly distributed leaflets asking for 
the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Lebanon.  No warrant was 
issued for his arrest.  Noujaym was not charged with any wrongdoing and 
was released on March 28.

In June the Minister of Information asked the owner of a television 
station to cancel the scheduled broadcast of a program on the 
controversial themes of civil marriage and divorce after he received 
complaints from some religious dignitaries.

Also in June the Publication Court sentenced the owner of Al-Shira' 
magazine to 1 month in prison for publishing material judged as 
insulting to the President.  In the same month the court also sentenced 
the editor-in-chief of Ad-Diyar newspaper to 3 months in prison for 
having published an article on the alleged involvement of a 
parliamentarian in drug trafficking.

Journalist Faris Abi Saab was arrested for covering a labor 
demonstration on July 19.  Later in the month, he and 78 of the 
demonstrators were tried and convicted for disturbing the peace.  
Although Saab's case attracted considerable international concern, local 
human rights officials say that the Government was within its rights in 
pursuing the case and noted the Government's swift disposition, as well 
as the court's leniency (see Section 6.a.).

Lebanon has a strong tradition of academic freedom and a flourishing 
private educational system born of inadequate public schools and a 
preference for sectarian affiliation.  Students exercise the right to 
form campus associations, and the Government does not usually interfere 
with student groups.

  b.  Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

Any group wishing to organize a rally must obtain the prior approval of 
the Interior Ministry, which does not render decisions uniformly.  The 
Government banned all rallies in 1995.  Nonetheless, some political 
factions, such as the Shi'a Amal Movement, Hizballah, the Sunni Moslem 
group Al-Habash, and supporters of the Prime Minister, held rallies 
without obtaining government permission.

In at least two instances, the ISF moved to disperse crowds regarded as 
illegal demonstrations.  In July security forces fired over the heads of 
demonstrators protesting a government decision to increase the price of 
gasoline.  Several persons, including some security officers, were 
injured as a result of aggressive crowd-control handling by security 
forces.

In August the ISF dispersed a gathering in the town of Zahle which 
assembled to welcome a local Member of Parliament, Elie Skaff, who had 
been recently married.  Skaff is regarded as a political rival of the 
President of the Republic.  The well-wishers later gathered at Skaff's 
home to present their congratulations.

In general, the Government does not interfere with the establishment of 
private organizations.  However, citizens require government approval to 
establish political parties.  The army intelligence service monitors the 
movement and activities of members of opposition groups.

The Ministry of Interior, which is empowered to grant permits, 
scrutinizes requests to establish political movements or parties and to 
some extent monitors their activities.

Neither Israel nor Syria allow groups openly hostile to them to operate 
in areas under their control.

  c.  Freedom of Religion

The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the Government 
respects this right in practice.

  d.  Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, 
Emigration, and Repatriation

The Constitution provides for these rights, and the Government generally 
respects them in practice.  However, there are some limitations.  Travel 
to Israel is prohibited by law, but many do so through Israeli-
controlled territory in southern Lebanon.  All males of between 18 and 
21 years of age are subject to compulsory military service and are 
required to register at a recruitment office and obtain a travel 
authorization document before leaving the country.  Husbands may block 
foreign travel by their wives and minor children.

Lebanese armed forces and Syrian troops maintain checkpoints in areas 
under their control.  In south Lebanon, the Lebanese Army, the Israeli 
Army, and the SLA all maintain tight restrictions on the movement of 
people and goods into and out of the so-called "security zone."

There are no legal restrictions on the right of all citizens to return.  
Many emigres, however, are reluctant to return for a variety of 
political, economic, and social reasons.  After years of internal 
conflict, the recent spread of government authority has removed barriers 
that previously hindered domestic travel.  The Government has encouraged 
the return to their homes of over 600,000 persons displaced during the 
civil war.  Although some people have begun to reclaim their homes 
abandoned during the war, the vast majority of displaced persons have 
not attempted to reclaim their property.  The resettlement process is 
slowed by tight budgetary constraints, destroyed infrastructure, the 
lack of schools and economic opportunities, and the fear that physical 
security is still lacking in some parts of the country.

Most non-Lebanese refugees are Palestinians.  The Government has 
estimated their number at 361,000, but this figure includes only the 
families of refugees who arrived in 1948.  Other estimates of the actual 
number of Palestinians now in Lebanon range from 450,000 to 500,000.

The Government refused to admit two Palestinians deported by Israel in 
April.  The two were still lodged at the UNIFIL headquarters in Naqura 
at year's end.  The Government issues laissez-passers (travel documents) 
to Palestinian refugees to enable them to travel and work abroad.  
However, after the Government of Libya announced in September its 
intention to expel Palestinians working in that country, the Lebanese 
Government moved to prohibit the return of Palestinians living abroad 
unless they obtain an entry visa.  The Government maintained that the 
visa requirement is necessary to ensure the validity of Lebanese 
laissez-passers, as a large number of those documents were forged during 
the years of strife.

The Government seeks to prevent the entry of asylum seekers and 
undocumented refugees.  There have been no known asylum requests since 
1975.

Section 3  Respect for Political Rights:  The Right of Citizens to 
Change Their Government

The Constitution states that citizens have the right to change their 
government in periodic free and fair elections.  However, the last 
parliamentary election, held in 1992, was not prepared or carried out 
impartially.  The majority of Christians and many Muslims boycotted that 
election as candidates and voters to protest the holding of an election 
before the redeployment of Syrian forces.

According to the Constitution, elections for the parliament must be held 
every 4 years.  The parliament, in turn, elects the president every 6 
years.  The president and parliament nominate the prime minister, who 
with the president chooses the cabinet.  According to the unwritten 
"National Pact" of 1943, the president is a Maronite Christian, the 
prime minister a Sunni Muslim, and the speaker of parliament a Shi'a 
Muslim.  Until 1990, seats in parliament were divided on a six-to-five 
ratio of Christians to Muslims.  Positions in the Government were 
allocated on a similar basis between Christians and Muslims.

Under the national reconciliation agreement reached in Taif, Saudi 
Arabia, in 1989, members of parliament agreed to alter the National Pact 
to create a 50-50 balance between Christian and Muslim members of 
parliament.  The Taif Accord also increased the number of seats in 
parliament and transferred some powers from the president to the prime 
minister and cabinet.

By Constitution the president is not allowed to succeed himself.  
Nonetheless, in October parliament passed a constitutional amendment by 
a vote of 110 to 11 which extended the term of President Elias Hrawi for 
an additional 3 years.  The amendment was earlier proposed by the 
president himself and approved by the cabinet, despite the existence of 
strong public sentiment against the move.  Supporters of the extension 
maintained that Lebanon should not change its political leadership 
during the peace negotiations with Israel.  However, the critics claimed 
that President Hrawi's extension was 

assured because many of Lebanon's political leaders show deference to 
the influence of Syria on matters related to national security and the 
peace process.  The critics also claimed that the amendment was an 
extraordinary move tailored for only one individual, thus undermining 
the rule of law and casting further doubt on the right to citizens to 
change their government.

Moreover, the right of citiznes to change their government was 
undermined by a decision taken by Parliament in May to extend the term 
in office of the country's municipal officials to December 31, 1996.  
That action postponed local elections that would have otherwise been 
required by June.  Municipal elections have not been held since 1963.

In July Nasri Maloof won a seat in Parliament in an election occasioned 
by the death of the incumbent.  An estimated 3.9 percent of the eligible 
voters in Maloof's district cast their ballots.  Government critics 
point to this low voter turnout as evidence of the public's disaffection 
with the country's political institutions.

Women have the right to vote, and there are no legal barriers to their 
participation in politics.  Three women were elected to Parliament in 
1992.  Other women hold policy-level positions in the Government.

Palestinian refugees have no political rights.  An estimated 17 
Palestinian factions operate in Lebanon, generally organized around 
prominent individuals.  Most Palestinians live in refugee camps 
controlled by one or more factions.  The leaders of the refugees are not 
elected, nor are there any democratically organized institutions in the 
camps.

Section 4  Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 
Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights

Several human rights groups operate freely without government 
restriction, including the Lebanese Association for Human Rights, the 
Foundation for Humanitarian and Human Rights-Lebanon, and the National 
Association for the Rights of the Disabled.  Some of these groups have 
sought to publicize the detention in Syria of dozens of Lebanese 
citizens.  The Government has made no public comments on the issue.

In January, for the first time since the Al-Khiyam detention center was 
opened in 1985 in the Israeli-occupied "security zone", the 
International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) was allowed to organize 
family visits to the detainees held there (also see Section 1.d.).


Section 5  Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Disability, 
Language, or Social Status

The Constitution calls for "social justice and equality of duties and 
rights among all citizens without prejudice or favoritism."  In 
practice, aspects of the law and traditional mores discriminate against 
women.

  Women

The press reports cases of rape with increasing frequency; what is 
reported appears to be only a fraction of the actual level of abuse.  In 
general, battered or abused women do not talk about their sufferings for 
fear of bringing shame upon their own families or accusations of 
misbehavior upon themselves.  There are no authoritative statistics on 
the extent of spousal abuse.  Doctors and social workers believe that 
most abused women do not seek medical help.  The Government does not 
provide medical assistance to battered women or victims; it provides 
legal assistance to victims who cannot pay regardless of the gender of 
the victim.  Since 1991 the Government has begun to increase sentences 
on violent crimes in general and to seek punishment for males who commit 
"crimes of honor" (see Section 1.e.).  The Lebanese Association for 
Combatting Violence Against Women, founded in 1994, has been active in 
lobbying to improve the socio-economic condition of women and to reduce 
violence against women.

Women have employment opportunities in government, medicine, law, 
academia, the arts, and, to a lesser degree, in business.  However, 
social pressure against women pursuing careers is strong in some parts 
of Lebanese society.  Males sometimes exercise considerable control over 
female relatives, restricting their activities outside the home or their 
contact with friends and relatives.  Women may own property but often 
cede effective control over it for cultural reasons.  In 1994 the 
Parliament amended a law removing a stipulation that a woman must obtain 
her husband's approval to open a business or engage in a trade.

Only males may confer citizenship on their spouses and children.  This 
means that children born to Lebanese mothers and foreign fathers may not 
become citizens.  In late 1995, the Parliament approved a law allowing 
Lebanese widows to confer citizenship on their minor children.

Religious groups have their own family and personal status laws 
administered by religious courts.  Each group differs in its treatment 
of marriage, family property rights, and inheritance.  Many of these 
laws discriminate against women.  For example, Sunni inheritance law 
gives a son twice the share of a daughter.  Although Muslim men may 
divorce easily, Muslim women may do so only with the concurrence of 
their husbands.

  Children

The plight of children is a growing concern, but the Government has not 
allocated funds to protect them.  Education is not compulsory, and many 
children take jobs at a young age to support their families.  In lower 
income families, boys generally get more education while girls usually 
remain at home to do housework.

An undetermined number of children are neglected, abused, exploited, and 
even sold to adoption agents.  There are hundreds of abandoned children 
in the streets, some of whom survive by begging, others by working at 
low wages.  Juvenile delinquency is on the rise; many delinquents wait 
in ordinary prisons for trial and remain there after sentencing.  
Limited financial resources have hindered efforts to build adequate 
facilities to rehabilitate delinquents.  There are neither child welfare 
programs nor government institutions to oversee the implementation of 
children's programs.  A committee for children's rights, formed 2 years 
ago by prominent public and private citizens, has been lobbying for 
legislation to improve the condition of children.

  People with Disabilities

Over 100,000 people sustained disabilities during the civil war.  Care 
of the disabled is generally a function performed by families.  Most 
efforts to secure education, independence, health, and shelter for the 
disabled are made by some 100 private organizations for the disabled.  
In general, these organizations are poorly funded.

Lebanon's heavily damaged cities make no accommodation for the disabled.  
Building codes have no requirements for ease of access.

  Religious Minorities

Discrimination based on religion is built into the system of government.  
The amended Constitution of 1990 embraces the principles of abolishing 
religious affiliation as a criterion for filling all government 
positions, but no steps have been taken to accomplish this.

  National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

According to the United Nations, an estimated 250,000 Palestinian 
refugees live in Lebanon.  Most Palestinian refugees live in 
overpopulated camps that have suffered repeated destruction as a result 
of fighting.  The Government has instructed relief workers to suspend 
reconstruction work in the camps, and refugees fear that in the future 
the Government will reduce the size of the camps or remove them 
completely.

The Government ended its practice of denying work permits to 
Palestinians in 1991.  Nonetheless, Palestinians still encounter job 
discrimination.  They and other aliens may own land of a limited size 
but only after obtaining the approval of 5 different district offices.  
The law applies to all aliens, but for political, cultural, and economic 
reasons it is applied in a manner disadvantageous to Palestinians and, 
to a lesser extent, Kurds.  The Government does not provide health 
services to Palestinian refugees, who must rely on private means.

In recent years, Palestinian incomes have declined as the Palestinian 
Liberation Organization closed many of its offices in Lebanon, which 
formerly employed as much as 50 percent of the Palestinian work force.  
Palestinian children have reportedly been forced to leave school at an 
early age because U.N. relief workers do not have sufficient funds for 
education programs.  The U.N. estimates that 18 percent of Lebanese 
street children are Palestinian.  Drug addiction and crime are 
increasing in the camps, as is prostitution.

Section 6  Worker Rights

  a.  The Right of Association

All workers, except government employees, may establish and join unions 
and have a legal right to strike.  Worker representatives must be chosen 
from those employed within the bargaining unit.  About 900,000 persons 
form the active labor force, 42 percent of whom are members of Lebanon's 
160 labor unions and associations.  Twenty-two of the unions, with about 
200,000 workers, are represented in the General Confederation of Workers 
(CGTL).

In general, the Government does not control or restrict unions, although 
union leaders allege that the Government has tried to intervene in 
elections for union officials.

Palestinian refugees may organize their own unions, but restrictions on 
their right to work make this right more theoretical than real.  Few 
Palestinians participate actively in trade unions.

Public school teachers, the staff at Lebanese University, Trans-
Mediterranean Airways employees, Beirut port workers, and municipal 
contract workers (principally garbage collectors) staged strikes in 
several cities in 1995.

In June the Government approved a nationwide wage increase, but sought 
to finance it by additional taxes on gasoline and other commodities.  
The CGTL called for a general strike and demonstrations on July 19 to 
protest the gasoline tax hike.  Reportedly, the Government arrested 
about 130 persons and later charged 78 of them for creating a public 
disturbance, conducting a demonstration without a permit, and carrying 
guns.  Thirty-nine persons were acquitted and 29 were sentenced to 
prisons sentences of either 1 or 3 months, which were later reduced to 
fines of $60 and $120 respectively.

Unions are free to affiliate with international federations and 
confederations, and they maintain a variety of such affiliations.

  b.  The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

The right of workers to organize and to bargain exists in law and 
practice.  Most workers' groups engage in some form of collective 
bargaining with their employers.  Stronger federations obtain 
significant gains for their members, and on occasion have assisted 
nonunionized workers.  There is no government mechanism to promote 
voluntary labor-management negotiations, and workers have no protection 
against antiunion discrimination.

There are no export processing zones.

  c.  Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

Although forced labor is not prohibited by law, it is neither practiced 
nor condoned by the Government.  However, children, foreign domestic 
servants, or other foreign workers are sometimes forced to remain in 
situations amounting to coerced or bonded labor.

  d.  Minimum Age for Employment of Children

The 1946 Labor Code stipulates that workers between the ages of 8 and 16 
may not work more than 7 hours a day, with 1 hour of rest provided after 
4 hours.  They are also prohibited from working between the hours of 7 
p.m. and 6 a.m.  There is a general prohibition against "jobs out of 
proportion with a worker's age."  The Code also prohibits certain types 
of mechanical work for children ages 8 to 13, and other types for those 
ages 13 to 16.  The Labor Ministry is tasked with enforcing these 
requirements, but the civil war left it with few resources and a 
demoralized and sometimes corrupt staff.  The Ministry does not 
rigorously apply the law.

  e.  Acceptable Conditions of Work

The Labor Ministry sets a legal monthly minimum wage, which was raised 
in June to about $156 (250,000 pounds).  The law is not enforced 
effectively in the private sector.  In theory the courts could be called 
upon to enforce it, but in practice they are not.  Trade unions actively 
try to ensure the payment of minimum wages in both the public sector and 
the large-scale private sector, such as education and transport.

The labor law prescribes a standard 6-day workweek of 48 hours, with a 
24-hour rest period per week.  In practice, workers in the industrial 
sector work an average of 35 hours a week, and workers in other sectors 
work an average of 30 hours a week.  The law includes specific 
occupational health and safety regulations.  Labor regulations call on 
employers to take adequate precautions for employee safety.  
Enforcement, the responsibility of the Labor Ministry, is uneven.  Labor 
organizers report that workers do not have the right to remove 
themselves from hazardous conditions without jeopardizing their 
continued employment.

(###)

[end of document]

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