Head of state: Michel Suleiman
Head of government: Najib Mikati (from June, replacing Saad Hariri who resigned in January)
Death penalty: retentionist
Population: 4.3 million
Life expectancy: 72.6 years
Under-5 mortality: 12.4 per 1,000
Adult literacy: 89.6 per cent
People accused of security-related offences faced unfair trials and some were sentenced to death. Torture and other ill-treatment by the judicial police were reported. Human rights defenders were prosecuted for reporting allegations of torture. Palestinian refugees continued to face discrimination, impeding their rights to work, health, education and adequate housing. Other refugees and asylum-seekers were detained and some were forcibly returned to their countries of origin despite risks of serious abuses there. Women remained subject to discrimination, although a law that provided for lenient penalties for perpetrators of so-called honour crimes was repealed. Migrant workers, particularly women employed as domestic workers, were inadequately protected from exploitation and abuse. Eight people were sentenced to death but there were no executions.
The coalition government of Prime Minister Saad Hariri fell in January. A political impasse followed, only ending in June when a new administration, headed by Najib Mikati and supported by Hizbullah, took office.
Tensions continued along the southern border with Israel. On 15 May, according to the UN, seven Palestinian refugees were killed and 111 people were injured when Israeli troops fired on Palestinian refugees and others who had gathered at the border to commemorate Nakba Day, some of whom attempted to cross into Israel.
At least three people were killed and others injured by Israeli cluster bomblets and landmines left in southern Lebanon in previous years.
The Special Tribunal for Lebanon, established by the UN Security Council to try those accused of assassinating former Prime Minister Rafic Hariri in 2005 and related crimes, issued its first indictments in June. It indicted four members of Hizbullah, who remained at liberty. Hizbullah denounced the indictments and vowed not to co-operate.
People suspected of security-related offences were arrested and at least 50 of them were tried before military courts. Some were accused of collaborating with or spying for Israel; of these, at least nine were sentenced to death. Their trials before military courts were unfair; the court, whose judges include serving military officers, are neither independent nor impartial. Some defendants alleged that they had been tortured or otherwise ill-treated in pre-trial detention in order to force them to "confess", but the courts generally failed adequately to investigate such allegations or to reject contested "confessions".
Fayez Karam, a senior official of the Free Patriotic Movement political party, was convicted on 3 September of providing information to Mossad (Israel's intelligence agency) for payment and sentenced to two years' imprisonment with hard labour. He told the military court that convicted him that he had been tortured by officials of the Internal Security Forces (ISF) while detained following his arrest in August 2010 and forced to make a "confession" that he later retracted. He lodged an appeal.
Sheikh Hassan Mchaymech, a Shi'a cleric, was detained on 11 October when he was handed over to the ISF by Syrian security officials. He had been detained and reportedly tortured in Syria because he was suspected of supplying information to Mossad. After his release he was handed over to the Lebanese authorities. He was held incommunicado by the Lebanese authorities, first at an ISF detention prison in Beirut, then in Roumieh Prison until early December when his family were allowed to visit him for the first time.
Torture and other ill-treatment
Cases of torture and other ill-treatment by the judicial police were reported.
The government had still not established an independent monitoring body to visit prisons and detention centres, breaching a requirement of the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture, which Lebanon ratified in 2008.
In April, four inmates of Roumieh Prison in Beirut died in unclear circumstances when security forces quelled a protest by detainees against overcrowding and prolonged pre-trial detention. The Interior Minister appointed the head of the ISF to conduct an inquiry, but its outcome was not made public.
Human rights defenders
Several human rights activists were harassed for reporting alleged human rights violations by the security forces and political parties.
Saadeddine Shatila, a human rights activist working for the NGO Alkarama, was accused of "publishing information harmful to the reputation of the Lebanese Military" after he submitted information to the UN Special Rapporteur on torture and others about cases of alleged torture. The Military Investigating Judge was still considering the case at the end of the year.
Marie Daunay and Wadih Al-Asmar, staff members of the Lebanese Center for Human Rights, were questioned by the General Prosecutor on 22 March after the Amal political party, headed by Parliamentary Speaker Nabih Berri, filed a criminal complaint against the organization because it had reported allegations of torture by people affiliated to Amal. The case was pending at the end of the year.
Discrimination – Palestinian refugees
Some 300,000 Palestinian refugees, long-term residents of Lebanon, remained subject to discrimination and were prevented from accessing a range of rights available to Lebanese citizens. They were not permitted to work in certain professions or inherit property. An unknown number of Palestinian refugees continued to reside in Lebanon without an official ID card, leaving them with even fewer rights. They remained, for example, unable to register marriages, births and deaths.
Over 1,400 Palestinian refugees who fled fighting in Nahr al-Bared camp near Tripoli in the north of Lebanon in 2007 returned to the camp in 2011, but over 25,000 remained displaced.
Women continued to be discriminated against in law and practice, and to face gender-based violence, including from male relatives. However, in August the government repealed Article 562 of the Penal Code, which had allowed a person convicted of killing or injuring relatives to receive a reduction in sentence if the crime was held to have been committed to uphold family "honour". The same month, the Penal Code was amended to define the crime of trafficking of persons and to prescribe penalties for traffickers.
Lebanese women remained unable to pass their nationality on to their husbands and children, but in September the labour laws were reformed to remove employment restrictions for non-Lebanese spouses and children of Lebanese women. The impact of these reforms was not clear by the end of 2011. Parliament also discussed but did not pass a draft law criminalizing domestic violence, including marital rape.
Foreign women employed as domestic workers continued to face exploitation and abuse, including sexual abuse, by employers and were inadequately protected under the law. However, a draft law setting out the rights of domestic workers was under discussion in the Parliament.
Refugees and asylum-seekers
Dozens of refugees and asylum-seekers, mostly Iraqi and Sudanese nationals, were detained beyond the expiry of sentences imposed for irregular entry into Lebanon or after their acquittal. Many were held in poor conditions at an underground General Security facility in 'Adliyeh in Beirut or at Roumieh Prison and were forced to choose between remaining in indefinite detention or returning "voluntarily" to their countries of origin.
At least 59 asylum-seekers or recognized refugees were forcibly deported in violation of international refugee law.
Sudanese refugee Muhammad Babikir 'Abd al-'Aziz Muhammad Adam, who was detained in January 2010 and sentenced in March 2010 to a one-month prison sentence for violating a deportation order, remained held until January 2011, when he was taken from detention and flown to Norway for resettlement. He said that between September and November 2010 he was beaten and held for prolonged periods in solitary confinement, and that numerous attempts were made to forcibly return him to Sudan, where he would have been at risk of arbitrary arrest, torture and other ill-treatment.
Impunity – enforced disappearances and abductions
On 1 July, the government promised to seek information on the fate of "missing and detained Lebanese" from the Syrian government and take other steps to address the legacy of past gross abuses, including by creating a national committee to follow up on enforced disappearances. However, the government took few if any steps towards addressing thousands of cases of people who remained missing since the 1975-90 civil war, including victims of enforced disappearance.
Eight people were sentenced to death, including five people tried in their absence, but no executions were carried out. The last execution was in 2004.
Radwan Khalaf Najm, a Syrian national, was sentenced to death in January by a criminal court for murder.
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