Constitutional Provisions

The 1926 Constitution of Lebanon (as amended) does not protect the rights to life or to freedom from torture. Under Article 13, freedom of assembly is guaranteed "within the scope of the law".

Article 65 of the Constitution requires that the Council of Ministers supervise the activities of all the Government's branches including the security administrations and institutions. The Constitution does not regulate the use of force by law enforcement agencies.

Treaty Adherence

Global Treaties

Adherence to Selected Human Rights Treaties
1966 Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) State Party
ICCPR Optional Protocol 1 State Party
1984 Convention against Torture (CAT) State Party
Competence of CAT Committee to receive individual complaints No
CAT Optional Protocol 1 Not party
Adherence to International Criminal Law Treaties
1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court Not party

Regional Treaties

Adherence to Regional Human Rights Treaties
2004 Arab Charter of Human Rights State Party

National Legislation

Police Use of Force

The Internal Security Forces Directorate is the national police and security force, with primary responsibility for law enforcement in Lebanon, although the armed forces also conduct law enforcement tasks. The Code of Conduct of the Internal Security Forces (ISF) declares that the ISF "will maintain order and security, protect public freedoms, secure enforcement of laws and regulations, ensure public well-being and safeguard public and private property", while preserving human dignity and upholding human rights. 

The Code of Conduct stipulates that: 

The right to life is sacred, therefore:

  • Police members will not resort to the use of force unless it is necessary, proportionate and after exhausting all possible, non-violent means, within the minimum extent needed to accomplish the mission.
  • Police members will resort to the use of firearms only when it is absolutely necessary and according to the law; such use will be commensurate with the scale of danger and will happen only after exhausting all other possible means.

This is not adequately reflective of international law, which only permits use of a firearm where necessary to confront an imminent threat of death or serious injury or a grave and proximate threat to life.

The Code of Conduct further provides that:

In the exercise of their powers, police members shall avoid all violence that is not deemed necessary. They shall also refrain from practicing, inciting or disregarding any act of torture or any cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment, especially when it is aimed to intimidate a person, force them to confess to a crime or disclose information about it.... 

The ISF’s Strategic Plan for 2018-2022 has committed the organization to an overall shift to increased accountability and protection of human rights. In hs foreword to the Plan, the Minister of Interior stated that: "In planning for the strategic development of the ISF, we envisage a day where the Lebanese government has monopolized the use of force throughout Lebanon’s territory, and where the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) can return to its original constitutional duty of protecting the Lebanese borders while leaving the duty of protecting and maintaining internal peace and security to the ISF." 

Police Oversight

There is no independent civilian police oversight body in Lebanon. A Human Rights Section exists within the Internal Security Forces Directorate one of whose tasks is, according to a 1991 Decree, "Protecting Human Rights in Lebanon from being abused by members of the concerned Units and taking the necessary measures to be applied.".

Caselaw

Global

Views and Concluding Observations of United Nations Treaty Bodies

In its 2018 Concluding Observations on Lebanon, the Human Rights Committee did not address issues of police use of force.

Regional

There is not yet an Arab regional human rights court with jurisdiction over Lebanon.

National

In August 2015, Amnesty International called on the Lebanese authorities to investigate allegations that security forces used excessive force to disperse residents protesting in Beirut over the lack of adequate public services, a waste management crisis, and corruption. At least 343 people were treated for injuries and 59 more were hospitalized, according to the Red Cross, after protests on 22 and 23 August organized by the local “You Stink” civil society movement. “Lebanese security officials responded to overwhelmingly peaceful protesters in downtown Beirut by shooting into the air with live rounds, firing rubber bullets, tear gas canisters, and water cannons, and in some cases hurling stones and beating protesters with batons and rifles,” said Lama Fakih, Senior Crisis Advisor at Amnesty International.

Downloads

1926 Constitution of Lebanon (as amended) (English translation)

Code of Conduct of the Internal Security Forces of Lebanon

1990 Law Organising the Internal Security Forces in Lebanon

ISF Strategic Plan for 2018-2022

The structural organization of the Internal Security Forces (Decree No. 1157 of 1991)

Human Rights Committee Concluding Observations on Lebanon (2018)