The Human Truth Foundation

Human Rights and Freedom in Lebanon

By Vexen Crabtree 2019

#equality #freedom #human_rights #lebanon #politics #tolerance

Lebanon
Lebanese Republic

[Country Profile Page]
StatusIndependent State
Social and Moral Index103rd best
CapitalBeirut
Land Area 10 230km21
LocationAsia, The Mediterranean, The Middle East
Population6.9m2
Life Expectancy79.54yrs (2017)3
GNI$13 312 (2017)4
ISO3166-1 CodesLB, LBN, 4225
Internet Domain.lb6
CurrencyPound (LBP)7
Telephone+9618

Lebanon is very poor at ensuring human rights and freedom compared to the rest of the world, and it has cultural issues when it comes to tolerance and equality. Lebanon does better than average in speed of uptake of HR treaties9. But that's it. Lebanon has problems. It does worse than average in commentary in Human Rights Watch reports10, opposing gender inequality11, supporting press freedom12 (still low for Asia), supporting personal, civil & economic freedoms13, its nominal commitment to Human Rights14 and in LGBT equality15. And finally, it falls into the worst 20 in its success in fighting anti-semitic prejudice16. "Lebanese authorities continue to prosecute individuals for peaceful use of freespeech"; in 2017 soldiers beat up protestors17. The Armed Forces and Security Forces use torture. Social progress is always going to be difficult in a country where the richest 1% hold 23% of the country's entire income18.


1. Lebanon's Human Rights, Equality & Tolerance

#equality #human_rights #morals #politics #prejudice #tolerance

Human Rights, Equality & Tolerance (2020)19,20
Pos.Lower is better
Avg Rank19,20
1Denmark9.7
2Sweden10.0
3Norway16.1
...
103Uganda95.0
104Belize95.2
105Lesotho95.9
106Lebanon97.0
107Maldives98.2
108Jordan98.8
109Guyana99.3
110Kazakhstan99.4
111Madagascar99.4
World Avg89.8
q=199.

The best countries in the world at ensuring human rights, fostering equality and promoting tolerance, are Denmark, Sweden and Norway19. These countries are displaying the best traits that humanity has to offer. The worst countries are Tuvalu, The Solomon Islands and Palestine19.

The data sets used to calculate points for each country are statistics on commentary in Human Rights Watch reports, its nominal commitment to Human Rights, speed of uptake of HR treaties, supporting personal, civil & economic freedoms, supporting press freedom, eliminating modern slavery, opposing gender inequality, the year from which women could participate in democracy, its success in fighting anti-semitic prejudice and LGBT equality. The regions with the best average results per country are Scandinavia, Baltic States and Europe19, whereas the worst are Micronesia, Melanesia and Australasia19.

2. Human Rights & Tolerance Data Sets

Human Rights Watch continued to document reports of torture by Lebanese security forces, including Internal Security Forces, the Lebanese Armed Forces, and Military Intelligence. In October, parliament passed a new anti-torture law that, while a positive step, falls short of Lebanon´s obligations under international law. [...]

While freedom of expression is generally respected in Lebanon, defaming or criticizing the Lebanese president or army is a criminal offense carrying penalties of up to three years in prison. The Lebanese penal code also criminalizes libel and defamation of other public officials, authorizing imprisonment of up to one year. In 2017, Lebanese authorities continued to detain and charge individuals for social media posts critical of government officials. [...]

Lebanon continues to try civilians, including children, in military courts, in violation of their due process rights and international law. Those who have stood trial in the military courts describe incommunicado detention, the use of confessions extracted under torture, decisions issued without an explanation, seemingly arbitrary sentences, and a limited ability to appeal. [...]

An estimated 250,000 migrant domestic workers, primarily from Sri Lanka, Ethiopia, the Philippines, Nepal, and Bangladesh, are excluded from labor law protections. The kafala (sponsorship) system subjects them to restrictive immigration rules and places them at risk of exploitation and abuse [case examples] include non-payment or delayed payment of wages, forced confinement, refusal to provide time off, and verbal and physical abuse. [...]

Lebanon has no minimum age for marriage for all its citizens. Instead, religious courts set the age based on the religion-based personal status laws, some of which allow girls younger than 15 to marry. Parliament has failed to take up draft bills that would set the age of marriage at 18.

"World Report 2018" by Human Rights Watch (2018)17

2.1. Human Rights Watch Comments

#human_rights

Human Rights Watch Comments (2017)10
Pos.Higher is better
Score10
1UK9
2France9
3Germany9
...
85Venezuela-5
86Oman-5
87Tajikistan-5
88Lebanon-5
89Mali-5
90Israel-5
91UAE-6
92Rwanda-6
World Avg-1.9
q=123.

Human Rights Watch comments concentrate mostly on negative issues, however, they also make positive comments for those countries that engage in human rights defence around the world, or who make improvements at home. By adding up positive and negative comments (including double-points for negatives that involve large scales and crimes against humanity), the Social and Moral Index turns HRW commentary into quantified values. Some countries may be unfairly penalized because HRW have not examined them, and, some countries "get away" with abuses if they manage to hide it, or if it goes unnoticed - a negative point has been given for those countries in which HRW specifically state that access to investigators has been barred. The points were limited to a minimum of -10 because there are some points at which things are so bad, with abuses affecting so many, it is difficult to be more specific about the depths of the issues.

2.2. Nominal Commitment to HR

#human_rights

Nominal Commitment to HR (2009)14
Pos.Higher is better
Treaties14
1Argentina24
2Chile23
3Costa Rica23
...
144Suriname12
145Kuwait12
146Trinidad & Tobago12
147Lebanon12
148Thailand11
149Barbados11
150Bahamas11
151Cuba11
World Avg15.1
q=194.

There are many international agreements on human rights, and, many mechanisms by which countries can be brought to account for their actions. Together, these have been the biggest historical movement in the fight against oppression and inhumanity. Or, putting it another way: these are rejected mostly by those who wish to oppress inhumanely. None of them are perfect and many people object to various components and wordings, but, no-one has come up with, and enforced, better methods of controlling the occasional desires that states and peoples have of causing angst for other states and peoples in a violent, unjust or inhumane way. Points are awarded for the number of human rights agreements ratified by the country, plus the acceptance of the petition mechanisms for disputes. The maximum possible score in 2009 was 24.

2.3. HR Treaties Lag

#human_rights #international_law #micronesia #politics #small_islands

HR Treaties Lag (2019)9
Pos.Lower is better
Avg Yrs/Treaty9
1Ecuador2.15
2Uruguay2.25
3Tunisia3.65
...
93Algeria9.95
94St Vincent & Grenadines9.98
95Azerbaijan10.08
96Lebanon10.14
97Afghanistan10.23
98Dominican Rep.10.24
99Kuwait10.36
100Laos10.53
World Avg10.02
q=195.

Human Rights (HR) Treaties Lag is a count of how long it took each country to sign each of 11 key HR treaties. From the date of the first signatory of each treaty, all other countries have one point added to their score for each day they delayed in signing. Results are presented as average time in years to sign each one. The lower a country's score, the more enthusiastically it has taken on international Human Rights Treaties - which are, of course, minimal standards of good governance. The slowest are the countries of Micronesia, Melanesia, Australasia and Polynesia all lagged by over 12 years per treaty. The best regions are The Americas, Scandinavia and the Mediterranean.

2.4. Personal, Civil & Economic Freedom

#freedom #politics

Personal, Civil & Economic Freedom (2014)13
Pos.Lower is better
Rank13
1Hong Kong1
2Switzerland2
3New Zealand3
...
105Argentina103
106Malawi106
107Thailand107
108Lebanon108
109Laos109
110Ivory Coast110
111Ukraine111
112Senegal111
World Avg79.7
q=159.

The Human Freedom Index published by the Fraser Institute is...

... a broad measure of human freedom, understood as the absence of coercive constraint. It uses 79 distinct indicators of personal and economic freedom in the following areas: Rule of Law, Security and Safety, Movement, Religion, Association, Assembly, and Civil Society, Expression, Relationships, Size of Government, Legal System and Property Rights, Access to Sound Money, Freedom to Trade Internationally, Regulation of Credit, Labor, and Business. [...]

The highest levels of freedom are in Western Europe, Northern Europe, and North America (Canada and the United States. The lowest levels are in the Middle East and North Africa, South Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa. [...]

Countries in the top quartile of freedom enjoy a significant higher per capita income ($37,147) [compared with] the least-free quartile [at] $8,700). The HFI finds a strong correlation between human freedom and democracy.

"The Human Freedom Index" by The Fraser Institute (2016)21

2.5. Press Freedom

#democracy #freedom #mass_media #politics #UK

Press Freedom (2013)12
Pos.Lower is better12
1Finland638
2Netherlands648
3Norway652
...
97Mongolia2993
98Mali3003
99Georgia3009
100Lebanon3015
101Albania3088
102Maldives3110
103Uganda3169
104Peru3187
World Avg3249
q=178.

The freedom to investigate, publish information, and have access to others' opinion is a fundamental part of today's information-driven world. Scores on the Press Freedom Index are calculated according to indicators including pluralism - the degree to which opinions are represented in the media, media independence of authorities, self-censorship, legislation, transparency and the infrastructure that supports news and information, and, the level of violence against journalists which includes lengths of imprisonments. The index "does not take direct account of the kind of political system but it is clear that democracies provide better protection for the freedom to produce and circulate accurate news and information than countries where human rights are flouted".

It must be noted that press freedom is not an indicator of press quality and the press itself can be abusive; the UK suffers in particular from a popular brand of nasty reporting that infuses several of its newspapers who are particularly prone to running destructive and often untrue campaigns against victims. The Press Freedom Index notes that "the index should in no way be taken as an indicator of the quality of the media in the countries concerned".

2.6. Slavery

#burundi #eritrea #france #human_rights #indonesia #slavery

Slavery (2018)22
Pos.Lower is better
% Victims22
1Japan0.03
2Canada0.05
3Taiwan0.05
...
17Paraguay0.16
18Sweden0.16
19Ireland0.17
20Lebanon0.17
21UAE0.17
22Finland0.17
23Austria0.17
24Switzerland0.17
World Avg0.65
q=167.

The taking of slaves has been an unwholesome feature of Human cultures since prehistory23. Private households and national endeavours have frequently been augmented with the use of slaves. The Egyptian and Roman empires both thrived on them for both purposes. Aside from labourers they are often abused sexually by their owners and their owners' friends24. The era of colonialism and the beginnings of globalisation changed nothing: the imprisonment and forced movements of labour continued to destroy many lives except that new justifications were invented based on Christian doctrine and the effort to convert non-Christians. By 1786 over 12 million slaves had been extracted from Africa and sent to colonial labour camps, with a truly atrocious condition of life25. But they were not the only ones to blame; in Africa internal nations such as the Asantes sold and bought tens of thousands of slaves26.

The abolition of the slave trade was a long and slow process. Until a relatively modern time, even philosophers, religious leaders and those concerned with ethics justified, or ignored, the problem of slavery27. The first abolitionists were always the slaves themselves. Their protests and rebellions caused the industry to become too expensive to continue. After that, it was the economic costs of maintain slave colonies that led the British to reject and then oppose the slave trade globally. Finally, the enlightenment-era thinkers of France encouraged moral and ethical thinking including the declaration of the inherent value of human life and human dignity28. A long-overdue wave of compassionate and conscientious movements swept across the West, eliminating public support for slavery, until the industries and churches that supported it had no choice but to back down.

'Modern slavery' includes forced labour (often of the under-age), debt bondage (especially generational), sexual slavery, chattel slavery and other forms of abuse, some of which can be surprisingly difficult to detect, but often target those fleeing from warzones and the vulnerable.29. Some industries (diamond, clothing, coal) from some countries (Burundi22, Eritrea22, Indonesia30) are a particular concern. The Walk Free Foundation, say that in 2016, 40.3 million people were living in modern slavery31.

3. Gender Equality Data Sets

The 1950s saw a late rush of 43 countries, including Lebanon and many developing nations, move to cease preventing women from voting. Lebanon has made some steps towards ending gender inequality but much more needs to be done.

"Lebanon has 15 separate religion-based personal status laws, which discriminate against women [including] inequality in access to divorce, residence of children after divorce, and property rights", and there is no legal protection against marital rape, although a positive development in 2017 saw the repeal of article 522 of the criminal code, "which had allowed rapists to escape prosecution by marrying the victim"17.

See:

3.1. Gender Inequality

#gender #gender_equality #human_rights #misogyny #women

Gender Inequality (2015)11
Pos.Lower is better11
1Switzerland0.04
2Denmark0.04
3Netherlands0.04
...
80Myanmar (Burma)0.37
81Belize0.38
82Mauritius0.38
83Lebanon0.38
84Rwanda0.38
85El Salvador0.38
86Peru0.39
87Sri Lanka0.39
World Avg0.36
q=159.

The UN Human Development Reports include statistics on gender equality which take into account things like maternal mortality, access to political power (seats in parliament) and differences between male and female education rates. Gender inequality is not a necessary part of early human development. Although a separation of roles is almost universal due to different strengths between the genders, this does not have to mean that women are subdued, and, such patriarchialism is not universal in ancient history. Those cultures and peoples who shed, or never developed, the idea that mankind ought to dominate womankind, are better cultures and peoples than those who, even today, cling violently to those mores.

3.2. Year Women Can Vote

#christianity #gender_equality #human_rights #politics #women

Year Women Can Vote
Pos.Lower is better
Year
1New Zealand1893
2Australia1902
3Finland1906
...
91Bolivia1952
92Ivory Coast1952
93Greece1952
94Lebanon1952
95Guyana1953
96Mexico1953
97Bhutan1953
98Syria1953
World Avg1930
q=189.

Women now have equal rights in the vast majority of countries across the world. Although academic literature oftens talks of when a country "grants women the right to vote", this enforces a backwards way of thinking. Women always had the right to vote, however, they were frequently denied that right. The opposition to women's ability to vote in equality with man was most consistently and powerfully opposed by the Catholic Church, other Christian organisations, Islamic authorities and some other religious and secular traditionalists.

4. Prejudice Data Sets

4.1. Anti-Semite Opinions

#antisemitism #christianity #germany #indonesia #israel #jordan #judaism #laos #morocco #netherlands #pakistan #philippines #religion #religious_violence #saudi_arabia #spain #sweden #turkey #UK #vietnam

Anti-Semite Opinions (2014)16
Pos.Lower is better
%16
1Laos0
2Philippines3
3Sweden4
...
87Saudi Arabia74
88Egypt75
89Oman76
90Lebanon78
91Morocco80
92Qatar80
93UAE80
94Jordan81
World Avg36.8
q=101.

Anti-Semitism is the world given to irrational racism against Jews. It is not the same as anti-Judaism (involving arguments against the religion) nor the same as anti-Zionism (arguments against Israel). In history, influential Christian theologians concocted the arguments against Jews that led, very early on, to widespread Christian action against Jews32,33,34,35. As Christianity rose to power in the West and presided over the Dark Ages, there were widespread violent outbursts against Jews of the most persistent and horrible kind. The Crusades were frequently aimed at them and the feared Spanish Inquisition paid Jews particular attention. The horror of the holocaust instigated by German Nazis in the 1940s was followed (finally) by the era of European human rights and a movement against racism in general.

The places that are the least anti-Semitical are a few countries of south-east Asia (Laos, the Philippines and Vietnam) and some of the secular liberal democracies of Europe (Sweden, the Netherlands and the UK). The worst countries for antisemitism are Islamic states of the Middle East36, which are undergoing their own Dark Age. Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Morocco, Indonesia, Pakistan and Turkey see the most oppressive and violent actions towards Jews37,38. Jews in Muslim countries face a host of restrictions and "ceaseless humiliation and regular pogroms"39. In 2004 the European Union Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia reported on violent anti-Jew crimes in the EU and found that that largest group of perpetrators were young Muslim males40.

4.2. LGBT Equality

#equality #homosexuality #human_rights #intolerance #sexuality #tolerance

Lebanon's stance towards homosexuality is nonsensical and pointlessly prejudiced - there is no legal way to conduct a sexually active homosexual relationship:

Sexual relations outside of marriage [is] criminalized under Lebanon´s penal code. Furthermore, article 534 of the penal code punishes “any sexual intercourse contrary to the order of nature” with up to one year in prison. In recent years, authorities conducted raids to arrest persons allegedly involved in same-sex conduct, some of whom were subjected to torture including forced anal examinations.

"World Report 2018" by Human Rights Watch (2018)17

It is wrong because (1) adult consensual sexual relations are a matter of personal privacy, (2) homosexuality is rife in nature41 and (3) discriminating against people based on their sexuality is immoral.

LGBT Equality (2017)15
Pos.Higher is better
Score15
1Netherlands103
2Belgium90
3Sweden86
...
164Oman-22
165Yemen-22
166Turkmenistan-24
167Lebanon-24
168Zimbabwe-24
169St Kitts & Nevis-25
170Botswana-25
171Ghana-25
World Avg12.6
q=196.

Discrimination against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) folk is rife across the world. Legal restrictions co-exist alongside social stigmatisation and physical violence42. LGBT tolerance and equal rights have been fought for country-by-country across the world, often against tightly entrenched cultural and religious opposition. Adult consensual sexual activity is a Human Right, protected by privacy laws43. Despite this, homosexual activity is outlawed in around 80 countries42. The Social & Moral LGBT Equality Index was created to compare countries and regions, granting points to each country for a variety of factors including how long gay sex has been criminalized and the extent of LGBT legal rights. Graded negative points are given for criminality of homosexuality, unequal ages of consent, legal punishments and for not signing international accords on LGBT tolerance. The signs in many developed countries are positive, and things are gradually improving. Europe is by far the least prejudiced region (Scandinavia in particular being exemplary). The Middle East and then Africa are the least morally developed, where cultural bias goes hand-in-hand with state intolerance, all too often including physical violence.