United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 1994 - Lebanon, 30 January 1995, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6aa4440.html [accessed 7 March 2015]
This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.
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. 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 General, both of which collect information on groups that may jeopardize state security. Non-Lebanese military forces control much of Lebanon. These include about 30,000 Syrian troops, a contingent of Israeli army regulars and 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 1one" 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 guerillas 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. In 1994 the Government continued to consolidate its authority in the parts of the country under its control. It has disarmed private Christian militias but has made little effort to disarm Hizballah and its allies, the SLA, or to reassert state control over the Palestinian refugee camps. Before the 1975-89 hostilities, Lebanon was an important financial and commercial center. The war weakened its commercial leadership and inflicted massive damage on the economic infrastructure. In 1994 the free market economy continued to recover, as the Government took steps to restore confidence and implement a reconstruction program. Although many citizens lack the confidence to repatriate much of the estimated $30 billion deposited abroad, there have been some significant cash flows reflecting cautious optimism in the Government's program. The human rights situation continued to deteriorate. Government abuses included the arrest and detention of individuals and groups opposed to government policies and the presence of Syrian forces. There were credible reports that government forces tortured and mistreated prisoners. In February the bombing of a Maronite Christian church precipitated the two major human rights developments of 1994: the Government arrested and members of the Lebanese Forces (LF) party, which it claimed had carried out the bombing, and before filing formal charges, revoked the LF's license as a political party. Second, in March the Government suspended all news broadcasts on the grounds that some broadcasters were using the church bombing to inflame sectarian tensions. The Government lifted the suspension in July. In October Parliament passed a new audiovisual law which most interested parties consider adequate to protect freedom of expression. The LF remains banned. 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. In 1994 these forces continued to carry out abductions, assassinations, and terrorist bombings.
RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:
a. Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing
In 1994 political killings declined as the Government further consolidated its authority over the country. However, security or police personnel were responsible for at least three extrajudicial killings. In one case, authorities at the Bayt-Al-Din Prison beat a prisoner, Tariq Hassaniyah, to death in March. Authorities arrested the warden and five officers, but at the end of the year had not made public their investigation, nor had they brought any charges against the perpetrators. Amnesty International (AI) reported that Fawzi Al-Rasi, a prisoner in his early thirties, died in custody on April 22. According to official sources, Al-Rasi died of a heart attack while detained at the Ministry of Defense. However, Al-Rasi's colleagues maintained that his heart attack resulted from physical abuse. In July, the Lebanese Association for Human Rights claimed that a suspect died during an interrogation conducted by narcotics officers. According to the Association, citizens have lodged numerous complaints about the Antidrug Bureau, where officers reportedly detain suspects for weeks without charge; some are reportedly tortured. At year's end, the Government had not investigated or punished those responsible for these alleged killings. Various factions and unknown persons carried out assassinations. On April 12, an Iraqi opposition figure, Talib Suhayl al-Tamimi, was assassinated in Beirut. Security forces arrested two Iraqi diplomats assigned to Beirut and charged them with murder. According to newspaper reports, the suspects admitted their guilt, but at year's end there was no movement towards a trial. Rival Palestinian factions continued to engage in a cycle of politically motivated murders, mostly in the southern city of Sidon and nearby refugee camps. On January 29, two gunmen assassinated Na'eb 'Umran al-Ma'ayitah, first secretary of the Jordanian Embassy in Beirut. Authorities arrested and tried seven persons associated with the radical Abu Nidal Palestinian faction for the crime. In October a court sentenced the four principal defendants to death and the others to 10 years in prison for abetting the crime. The death sentences were commuted to life imprisonment at hard labor.
There were no known disappearances attributable to state security forces. However, the fate of thousands of inhabitants kidnaped during the years of civil unrest is still unknown. Militias and non-Lebanese forces were responsible for most of the kidnapings. Some victims are believed to have been murdered. The Government has taken no judicial action against groups responsible for the kidnapings. On May 21, Israeli commandos abducted the senior leader of an Islamic resistance organization, Mustafa Dirani, from his house in the central region of the Biqa' Valley, an area under Syrian control. Dirani is detained in Israel. Israeli authorities stated that they had seized Dirani to obtain information from him on the fate of a missing Israeli pilot, Ron Arad, who was shot down over Lebanon in 1986 and is still listed as missing.
c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
There continued to be credible reports that the Lebanese Army in some instances employed torture against the members of the disbanded Christian militia, the Lebanese Forces (LF). Army personnel beat detainees and suspended them by their wrists for lengthy periods. The Government has not adequately investigated those accused of the abuse, nor has it punished anyone. The Government made no attempt to investigate reports that security forces tortured several persons arrested in 1993 and charged them with contact with the enemy--Israel--and conspiracy to aid enemy forces. According to AI, security forces broke the arm of one suspect, George Haddad, during an interrogation in 1993. In January AI expressed concern about the arrest and reported torture of Samir Nasr in late 1993. Nasr was charged with dealing with the enemy--Israel--solely on the basis of a statement extracted under duress. AI also reported that Hanna Atiq, arrested in the spring for his suspected involvement in the bombing of a church, was admitted to a hospital for injuries reportedly sustained while under interrogation at the Ministry of Defense. In September the Army's intelligence services arrested several individuals for their alleged involvement in authoring and distributing a leaflet opposing Syrian influence in Lebanon. Ministry of Defense security officers reportedly beat the male detainees, hung them by their wrists, and beat them on the testicles during interrogation. The officers reportedly stripped two female detainees of their clothing and insulted them. During the interrogation, security officials did not allow the detainees access to their lawyers. The Government charged the detainees under Article 295 of the Penal Code (campaign aimed at weakening the national feeling or inciting sectarian discord) and Article 125 of the Military Code (conspiracy aimed at a leader's authority or soldier's security). Authorities detained the group for 23 days and then released them. No date has been set for trial. Prison conditions do not meet internationally recognized minimum standards. Inmates lack heat, and there are an insufficient number of showers and toilets. In September the Minister of Interior acknowledged publicly that the prisons are overcrowded, with 50 to 60 prisoners often housed to a cell. There are as many as 60 children detained in prisons, sharing the same facilities as adult prisoners. 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. Although the law requires security forces to obtain arrest warrants before making arrests, the military prosecutor reportedly issues blank warrants to be completed after arrest are made. Arresting officers are supposed to refer suspects to a prosecutor within 24 hours of arrest but frequently do not. The law requires the authorities to release a suspect after 48 hours of arrest if they do not bring formal charges against him. 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 a suspect to incommunicado detention. There is a system of bail, but felons are excluded from using it. Defendants have the right to legal counsel, but there is no public defender's office for those who cannot afford a lawyer. The army continued the practice of arbitrary arrest, detaining mainly the former members of the dissolved Christian militia, the Lebanese Forces. It conducted most of these detentions after a bomb at a Maronite Christian church in the Al-Zuq region of Kisriwan killed 12 worshipers and injured many others. The Army reportedly detained the former militiamen in order to carry out their investigation into the bombing. LF commander Samir Ja'ja publicly stated that the Christian community needed to take security measures if the State was unable to do so. The Army released most of the detainees after 2 or 3 days. In April security forces arrested Samir Ja'ja' as a suspect in the Al-Zuq church bombing--and also in the 1990 murders of Dany Chamoun, the leader of the Liberal Party, his wife, and two children. Defense lawyers maintain that Ja'Ja's detention in an underground room at the Ministry of Defense violates the law and that the conditions of detention are degrading and inhuman. The Government maintains that it selected the detention facility to safeguard Ja'ja's life from possible assassins. In April Army intelligence officers arrested 12 Lebanese members of the Iraqi Ba'th Party and transferred some of them into the custody of Syrian authorities. Security forces arrested another Lebanese member of that party, Rafiq Abu Younes, in September. By year's end, the Government had not provided information about his whereabouts. Security forces also detained persons who opposed the presence of Syrian forces in Lebanon (see Section 1.c.). Local militias and non-Lebanese forces continued to conduct arbitrary arrests in areas outside the central Government's authority. The SLA detains at least 200 Lebanese citizens and an undetermined number of Palestinians at the Al-Khiyam prison in South Lebanon. The SLA denies detainees the right to correspond with family members and prohibits visits by family members and representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross, despite receiving many requests for such visits. Israel is known to hold several Lebanese citizens, including Sheikh Abdel Karim Obaid and Mustafa Dirani, who are figures associated with the Islamic resistance. Palestinian refugees are subject to arrest, detention, and harassment by the state security forces, Syrian security forces, the various militias, and rival Palestinian factions. In the recent past, the Government resorted in a few cases to exile as a means of punishment. In 1991 it pardoned former army commander and self-proclaimed Prime Minister General Michel 'Awn and two aides, on condition that they depart the country and remain in exile for 5 years. The Government had accused the three of attempting to usurp the authority of the State. They remain in exile.
e. Denial of Fair Public Trial
The Lebanese judicial system is composed of the regular civilian courts; military courts, which try cases involving military personnel; the Judicial Council, which is a state security court; 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 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 Ministry of Justice appoints judges according to a formula based on religious affiliation. Low salaries have compelled competent judges to resign from the bench while others have become susceptible to corruption and bribery. In 1994 the Minister of Justice announced the nomination of 42 additional judges. The shortage of judges has impeded efforts to adjudicate cases backlogged during the years of internal conflict. Trial delays are also caused by the Government's inability to conduct investigations in areas outside its control. According to the Minister of Interior, 600 prisoners are in detention, some for long periods, awaiting trial. In refugee camps, Palestinian elements operate an autonomous and arbitrary system of justice. The Islamic militia, Hizballah, operates its own system of justice. In February it stated that Islamic law would apply in the areas it controls. In 1994 Hizballah authorities tried and executed a person accused of murder. The Government did not attempt to stop the execution. According to Lebanese press reports, Hizballah is holding in captivity Muhammad Dirani, a cousin of Mustafa Dirani, an Islamic leader abducted by Israeli commandoes (see Section l.b.). Hizballah has reportedly accused Muhammad Dirani of collaborating with Israel in the abduction. 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 avoid conviction if he can demonstrate that he committed the crime in response to an illegitimate sexual relation by the victim. There are no known political prisoners, although the authorities often detain without charges political opponents of the Syrian and Lebanese Governments for short periods.
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 must obtain warrants before entering houses, except when the army is in hot pursuit of an armed attacker. Militias and non-Lebanese forces operating outside areas of central government authority have frequently violated rights of privacy. Various factions and the Government use informer networks and monitor telephones to gather information on their foes.
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, engaged 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. On June 2, Israeli helicopters attacked a Hizballah military training camp east of Ba'albak, killing 26 persons and injuring 40. In retaliation, Lebanese resistance forces, principally Hizballah, fired 40 Katyusha rockets at settlements in northern Israel. On August 5, an Israeli helicopter raid targeted a residential building in the township of Dayr al-Zahrani. Seven persons were killed and 17 wounded. From July 25 to August 24, Israeli forces imposed a blockade of all vehicular traffic into and out of the southern Lebanon township of Yuhmur, permitting only pedestrian access. According to international observers, the blockade led to a shortage of potable water and an outbreak of skin diseases among the inhabitants. The Government, and to a much greater extent the SLA and Hizballah, continue to violate international humanitarian standards with respect to the treatment of prisoners.
Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:
a. Freedom of Speech and Press
Although Lebanon has a long history of freedom of opinion, speech, and press, in 1994 the Government seriously infringed these freedoms. From March to July, it prohibited the broadcast of news and political commentary by all privately owned television and radio stations. The Government imposed the ban after dissolving the former Christian militia and political party, the Lebanese Forces, which it accused of bombing a Maronite church in Al-Zuq in February (see Section 1.d.). Government supporters argued that the ban was necessary because, in the aftermath of the bombing, privately owned broadcasting stations might enflame sectarian tensions. However, the effect was to stifle temporarily dissent and Lebanon's tradition of cultural and religious diversity. The Government rescinded the ban after the Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies introduced a bill urging the ban's rescission and calling for a review of the laws on broadcasting. In October Parliament passed a new audiovisual law which most parties consider an adequate safeguard of freedom of expression. The Government has several legal tools at its disposal to control the freedom of expression. The Surete General, under Ministry of Interior jurisdiction, is authorized to approve all foreign magazines and nonperiodical works including books, plays, and films before they are distributed on the market. In 1994 the Ministry prohibited the screening of an Egyptian film, "The Terrorist", a satire on Islamic fundamentalism, after some Islamic dignitaries voiced complaints. In July Interior Ministry authorities prohibited the import of Al-Wasat, a magazine published in London, because it included an interview with Ghassan Tuma, a member of the dissolved LF party. In June a court sentenced Tuma in absentia to 20 years for conspiracy to assassinate the President. Lebanese law prohibits attacks on the dignity of the Head of State or foreign leaders. The Government may prosecute offending journalists and publications in a special court empowered to try such matters. In August the Government prosecuted a pro-Syrian newspaper, Al-Sharq, after it printed cartoons deemed insulting to the President. The Government took another newspaper, Ad-Diyar, to court in September for "attacking the dignity" of the President. At year's end, both newspapers continued to publish, but their cases were pending. 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. In September the Government arrested five persons for posting wall bills urging a well-known signer to cancel a concert scheduled to benefit the reconstruction of Beirut. The posters urged the cancellation to protest the city's controversial reconstruction plans. The Government released them only after the concert was held, but did not cite them for any wrongdoing. In 1994 the Parliament approved several amendments to the restrictive press regulations imposed during the civil war, such as Law Decree 104 of 1977. The amendments withdrew the authority of the Minister of Interior to close a publication by decree and the authority of the Attorney General, or any court, to close a publication involved in litigation until a court renders a verdict. Other amendments prohibit the pretrial detention of journalists accused in press crimes and imprisonment for any crime not specified in the Penal Code. Lebanon has a strong tradition of academic freedom and a flourishing private educational system. The Government does not usually interfere with professors, curricula, or student groups.
b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association
Citizens wishing to hold a public rally must obtain approval from the Ministry of Interior. The Government does not apply this law uniformly. In 1994 the Ministry approved requests for rallies from some non-Christian political factions, including the Shi'a Muslim Amal Movement, the mostly Druze Progressive Socialist Party, the Sunni Muslim group al-Ahbash, and supporters of the Prime Minister. The Ministry disapproved requests from some Christian groups. In April army troops fired shots in the air to disperse supporters of the former LF Commander Samir Ja'ja' who wished to protest Ja'ja's arrest at the residence of the Maronite Patriarch. In 1994 the Government did not interfere with demonstrations and marches organized by Hizballah. In general the Government does not interfere with the establishment of private organizations; however, citizens require government approval to establish political parties. However, the army intelligence service monitors the movement and activities of members of opposition groups. The Ministry of Interior scrutinizes requests to establish political parties and to some extent monitors the activities of all parties. In 1994 the Government dissolved the Lebanese Forces as a political party, accusing it of involvement in the Al-Zuq church bombing. LF supporters claim the dissolution was illegal because the LF had not been found guilty of any wrongdoing. Nonetheless, the Government has not made similar moves to dissolve Hizballah or Amal. Neither Israel nor Syria allow groups openly hostile to them to operate in areas under their control.
c. Freedom of Religion
The State does not interfere with the practice of religion, the activities of foreign clergy, or places of worship. The Government officially recognizes 17 religions or denominations, including Christians, Muslims, Druze, and Jews. Citizens have the right to convert to another religion, but converts frequently suffer social ostracism in this religiously differentiated society.
d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation
In general the Government does not interfere with the foreign travel of citizens, but obstacles remain. Travel to Israel is prohibited by law, but many citizens undertake such travel via Israeli-controlled territory in South Lebanon. A woman is required by law to obtain her husband's or father's permission for a passport. There are no legal restrictions on the right of citizens to return. Palestinian refugees living in Lebanon have the right to return after foreign travel. Lebanese armed forces and Syrian troops maintain checkpoints in areas under their control. In South Lebanon, the SLA, Israeli forces, and the Lebanese Army all maintain tight restrictions on the movement of people and goods into and out of the security zone. After years of internal conflict, the recent spread of government authority has removed barriers that had 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. In June the Government issued a decree extending citizenship to an estimated 120,000 stateless residents excluding Palestinian refugees. Some Christian leaders criticized the move as numerically favoring the Muslim community and contributing to an imbalance among the country's religions.
Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change Their Government
The Constitution states that the people have the right to change their government in periodic free and fair elections. However, the 1992 parliamentary election was not prepared or carried out impartially. There were widespread reports of irregularities and vote rigging, and non-Lebanese military forces exerted considerable influence over the prepartion of lists of candidates, who were consequently assured of victory. The majority of Christians and many Muslims boycotted the election as candidates and voters to protest holding the election before Syrian military forces had been redeployed. Consequently, the election results did not reflect the full spectrum of the body politic and cast doubt on the people's ability to change their government democratically. According to the Constitution, elections for the Parliament must be held every 4 years. The Parliament elects the President who serves one 6-year term. The President and Parliament choose 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. Under the national reconciliation agreement reached in Taif in October 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 transfered some powers from the President to the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Women have the right to vote, and there are no legal barriers to participation by women 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, including the Foundation for Humanitarian Rights, the Lebanese Association for Human Rights, and the Bar Association's Office for Human Rights, operate freely without government interference. There were no known requests by international human rights organizations to visit Lebanon in 1994. The SLA has refused to allow the International Committee of the Red Cross and other international humanitarian groups to visit the Al-Khiyam prison in South Lebanon.
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 favortism." In practice, aspects of the law and traditional mores discriminate against women. Only males may confer citizenship on their spouses and children. In some cases, this means that children born to Lebanese mothers and stateless fathers are themselves stateless. The law stipulates that a woman must obtain her husband's approval to open a business or engage in trade. The Parliament has not yet acted on an amendment introduced to change this law. Women may own property but often cede effective control over it due to cultural reasons. The law also accords preferential treatment to males accused of crimes of honor (see Section 1.e.). 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. Women have employment opportunities in government, medicine, law, academia, the arts, and, to a lesser degree, in business. Social pressure against women pursuing a career is strong in some parts of society. Males sometimes exercise considerable control over female relatives, restricting their activities outside the home or contact with friends and relatives. Violence against women occurs; the press frequently reports cases of rape. However, there are no authoritative statistics on the extent of spousal violence. Doctors and social workers believe most abused women do not seek medical help. The society's emphasis on personal privacy and honor makes it difficult for women to seek legal redress. The Government has not expressed an interest in the problem of violence against women nor has it made an effort to combat it.
The plight of children is a growing concern but the Government has not allocated funds specifically to protect them. An undetermined number of children are neglected, abused, exploited, and even sold to adoption agents. There are hundreds of abandoned children in the streets, begging and cleaning car windows; others are hired illegally at low wages. Juvenile delinquency is rising; 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.
According to the United Nations, an estimated 250,000 Palestinian refugees live in Lebanon. The Government ended its practice of denying work permits to Palestinians in 1991. Nonetheless, Palestinians still encounter job discrimination. Palestinians and other aliens may own land of a limited size and only after obtaining the approval of five district offices. The law applies to all aliens, but for political, cultural, and economic reasons it is applied in a manner disadvantageous to the Palestinians and, to a lesser extent, Kurds.
Discrimination based on religion is built into the system of government. The amended Constitution of 1990 embraces the principle of abolishing religious affiliation as a criterion for filling all government positions, but no steps have been taken to accomplish this.
People with Disabilities
Over 100,000 people have sustained disabilities during the civil war. The care for 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 handicapped. In general, these organizations are poorly funded. Lebanon's heavily damaged cities make no accommodation to the disabled. Building codes have no requirements for ease of access.
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. Workers have the right to elect their union leaders by secret ballot. About 600,000 workers are organized in 160 labor unions and associations. Twenty-three unions, with about 250,000 workers, are affiliated with the General Confederation of Workers (CGTL). In January the CGTL split and a second union group was formed--the Federation of Sectoral Syndicates. Unions are free to affiliate with international organizations. In general the Government does not control or restrict unions, although some union leaders allege that the Government has tried to intervene in elections in favor of certain union officials. Palestinian refugees may organize their own unions, but few do so because of continued restrictions on their right to work. Unions exercised their right to strike on numerous occasions. Laws prohibit retribution against strikers and there were no known instances of such retribution during the year.
b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively
The right of workers to organize and bargain exists in law and practice. Most workers' groups engage in some form of collective bargaining with their employers. Stronger unions are able to obtain significant gains for their members; weaker unions rely on the mediation of the CGTL. There is no government mechanism to promote voluntary labor-management negotiations. Workers have no statutory 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, the Government does not condone it. However, employers sometimes force some categories of foreign workers, especially those working as domestic servants, to remain in situations amounting to coerced 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, or between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m. The Code also prohibits children from engaging in certain types of mechanical work. There is a general prohibition against "jobs out of proportion with a worker's age." The Labor Ministry is tasked with enforcing these requirements, but it has 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 the legal monthly minimum wage at $117 (197,000 Lebanese pounds), but does not enforce it in the private sector. The minimum wage is not sufficient to support a worker and his or her family. Many workers hold more than one job. 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 of the economy 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. The Ministry of Labor has been lax in enforcement. There is no law or policy giving workers the right to remove themselves from hazardous conditions. Corrected 1/31/95