Initial Report of States parties due
in 1993 : Lebanon. 03/02/95. CRC/C/8/Add.23. (State Party Report)CRC
UNITED NATIONS Convention on the Rights of the Child
do not change any of the codes which appear before this comment.
Distr. etc. must start on the First Tab for a long symbol or the
Second for a shorter one. Distr.
GENERAL CRC/C/8/Add.23 3
COMMITTEE ON THE
RIGHTS OF THE CHILD
CONSIDERATION OF REPORTS SUBMITTED BY
STATES PARTIES UNDER ARTICLE 44 OF THE CONVENTION
reports of States parties due in 1993
[21 December 1994]
1 - 4 4
I. DEFINITION OF THE CHILD 5 - 7 4
GENERAL PRINCIPLES 8 - 24 5
(art. 2) 8 5
B. Best interests of the child (art. 3) 9 - 15 5
C. The right to life, survival and development (art. 6) 16 -
D. Respect for the views of the child (art. 12), freedom
of expression (art. 13), freedom of thought, conscience and
religion (art. 14) 23 - 24 8
III. CIVIL RIGHTS AND
FREEDOMS 25 - 36 8
A. Name and nationality (art. 7)
25 - 26 8
B. Preservation of identity (art. 8) 27 - 30 8
C. The right to humane treatment (art. 37 (a)) 31 - 36 9
IV. FAMILY ENVIRONMENT AND ALTERNATIVE CARE 37 - 62
A. Parental guidance (art. 5) and parental
responsibilities (art. 18) 37 - 38 9
B. Separation from
parents (art. 9) 39 - 42 10
C. Family reunification (art. 10)
D. Recovery of maintenance for the child (art. 27) 44
E. Children deprived of a family environment (art. 20) 45
F. Adoption (art. 21) 46 - 51 11
G. Illicit transfer
and non-return (art. 11) 52 - 54 11
H. Abuse and neglect
(art. 19) including physical and psychological recovery and social
reintegration (art. 39) 55 - 62 12
V. BASIC HEALTH
AND WELFARE 63 - 88 13
A. Survival and development
(art. 6) 63 - 65 13
B. Disabled children (art. 23) 66 - 79 14
C. Health and health services (art. 24) 80 - 89 17
EDUCATION, LEISURE AND CULTURAL ACTIVITIES 90 - 109 19
Education, including vocational training and guidance (art. 28) 90
- 101 19
B. Aims of education (art. 29) 102 - 103 20
Leisure, recreation and cultural activities (art. 31) 104 - 109 21
VII. SPECIAL PROTECTION MEASURES 110 - 155 21
Children in situations of emergency (arts. 22, 38-39) 110 - 113 21
B. Children in conflict with the law (art. 40) 114 - 137 22
Children in situations of exploitation, including physical and
psychological recovery and social reintegration (art. 39) 138 -
D. Children belonging to a minority or to an
indigenous group (art. 30) 155 27
156 - 157 27
1. In October 1990, Lebanon adopted the Declaration
and Plan of Action of the Convention on the Rights of the Child
which was adopted at the World Summit for Children, held at the
United Nations Headquarters on 29-30 September of that year.
Lebanon was a participant State, and consequently its Government
agreed to abide by the principle of "first call for children"
which binds the Government to assign high priority to the
allocation of resources, at all times, to the essential needs of
2. This commitment is particularly
relevant to the children of Lebanon who have endured the traumas
of war for 16 years, were displaced by the thousands, orphaned and
handicapped and robbed of the simple joys of childhood. The war
has displaced about 1 million persons, mainly from rural areas,
into crowded slum areas in the city; three quarters of these
displaced persons have immigrated. Inflation created an economic
crisis in the country, which reduced many families to poverty.
3. In situations like this children's needs do
not get first priority. However, the Lebanese Government, along
with several non-governmental organizations, responded favourably
to the 1990 "Call for Children" and started working on a
national plan. The present report is a preliminary draft
summarizing the response of the Lebanese Government and the NGOs.
4. It is not an easy task for a country to
function normally after 16 years of chaos and destruction which
left its infrastructure ravaged and communication among people
next to impossible. The means for securing data in Lebanon at the
present time are almost non-existent. Studies, statistics and
research are scarce and restricted in scope to limited areas. For
this reason the information that comprises the essential part of
this report relies heavily on the legislative system.
OF THE CHILD
legislative texts in Lebanon are in conformity with the
stipulation of article 1 of the Convention on the Rights of the
Child, in which a child is defined as every human being below the
age of 18 years unless, under the law applicable to the child,
majority is attained earlier. In the Lebanese legislation, a child
is defined as follows:
(a) Article 4 of the
Civil Code of 1951 states that the age of majority is 18 years;
(b) The Lebanese Penal Code stipulates that:
Measures will be taken against anyone who attempts to abuse a
child sexually or through pushing him/her to deal with drugs in
any form. A criminal committing these acts with a minor under the
age of 12 or 15 can get a jail sentence of 3-15 years (art. 119);
(ii) Criminal proceedings cannot be brought against
any minor under 7 years of age.
(iii) No child under
18 may be segregated from his/her family (Decree 119);
Anyone who separates a child under 12 from his/her parents or
guardian is punishable by imprisonment (art. 495).
The Lebanese Penal Code further includes the following definitions
(art. 31 of Decree No. 112):
(a) A juvenile is
every male or female over 7 and under 12 years of age;
An adolescent is every person over 12 and under 15 years of age;
A young person is every male or female between 15 and 18 years of
7. Articles 22 and 23 of the Labour Code
impose the following restrictions on the employment of children:
(a) No child under 8 is allowed to engage in
formal employment. (The Association of Human Rights is considering
recommending that the age limit be raised);
child under 13 is allowed to engage in heavy industrial or other
demanding work (the activities are specified);
child between 13 and 16 is allowed to engage in physically taxing
jobs unless he/she has obtained a certificate from a doctor
confirming his/her ability to do so.
8. The texts of the Lebanese
Constitution apply to the Lebanese in general without any
discrimination on grounds of sex, language, religion, age or
colour. Article 7 of the Constitution stipulates that the Lebanese
are equal before the law without any discrimination among them in
regard to rights and obligations. These rights include: the right
to equal treatment before the courts; the right to personal
security and protection from harm and violence; the right to a
national identity; the right to own private property; the right to
inheritance; the right to education and vocational/technical
training; the right to health care; the right to freedom of
thought, religion and speech. These rights are reflected in the
various national legislative texts (laws and regulations) of the
country including those related to children.
Best interests of the child (art. 3)
Through its various ordinances, the Lebanese legislature earnestly
endeavours to safeguard the interests of children, as illustrated
by the following few examples.
10. Article 127
of the Personal Status Law states that a woman who has been
granted custody of a child, in case of separation, is not allowed
to take the child out of the country without the consent of the
father. The same applies to the father who may have custody of a
child unless the court decides otherwise. Under the same law the
following two restrictions are specified:
child may not be given a passport without the consent of his/her
(b) No child under 15 may use a family
passport to travel alone.
11. Penal Code No. 495
clearly states that anyone who deprives a child of his/her liberty
will be imprisoned from six months to three years.
The Labour Law stipulates that no child may be employed on a
formal basis for more than seven hours, and no child may be
employed at night between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m.
These provisions clearly show that protecting the child and
ensuring a normal environment for his growth and development were
points of serious concern for the legislators.
In the interest of children, a group of NGOs, concerned with their
welfare, came together in 1991 to form a union that would advocate
children's rights in line with the Convention. The Government
followed suit, ratified the Convention, and appointed a committee
in parliament to monitor this issue. The Union's activities
included the following:
(a) Interpreting the
articles of the Convention;
(b) Setting priorities
and a National Plan of Action from 1992-2000 in cooperation with
the Government and UNICEF. The priorities include issues related
to health, education, the media, exploitation, abuse, and
children's rights in general;
(c) Instigating a
campaign against young vagrants to protect them from delinquency;
(d) Requesting the formation of a parliamentary
committee for the protection of childhood. This committee was duly
(e) Alerting the following Ministries to the
importance of protecting children by adhering to the Convention:
Health, Environment, Education, Social Affairs, Justice, Interior
(f) Completing a study on the
legislation related to children in Lebanon with suggestions for
(g) Convincing the ministry
responsible to delete the word "illegitimate" from the
child's identity card;
(h) Collaborating with UNICEF,
the Ministry of Health, the doctor's syndicate and the
parliamentary committee to revive the decree issued in 1983
enforcing a medical exam before marriage (accomplished);
Taking an active part in presenting children's rights in the media
through lectures, seminars, conferences, etc.
In 1993, a National Committee for the Disabled was established by
Decree No. 1/33 on 4 October 1993 headed by the Minister of Social
Affairs, and assisted by his/her Director General.
The right to life, survival and development (art. 6)
The Lebanese Civil and Personal Laws protect this sacred right and
inflict punishment on anyone who violates it. This is implemented
by safeguarding the child in all phases of its development
starting with prenatal life, birth and during the subsequent
stages of its life.
17. The legislative statute
of 1983 No. 78 stipulates that a medical certificate before
marriage is necessary. In 1993 the Ministry of Health went further
to specify the medical tests requested before marriage. In 1994
Decree No. 334 was issued stipulating that a medical exam before
marriage is obligatory.
18. Abortion is strictly
prohibited as stated in articles 539-545 of the Penal Code. The
law stipulates the following:
(a) Anyone selling
or promoting materials related to abortion will have to serve a
jail sentence from two months to two years (art. 540);
Any woman who terminates her pregnancy by inducing an abortion
herself or through the assistance of another person shall be
punished by imprisonment from six months to three years (art. 539)
and so will the other person;
(c) If abortion leads
to the death of the woman in question, the perpetrator is punished
by imprisonment with hard labour for a period which ranges from
four to seven years.
19. The laws have also made
provisions to protect children by designated forms of punishment
to be inflicted on those parents who neglect their children.
Articles 500-502 of the Penal Code stipulate that parents who
abandon their children or do not provide the necessary care will
be fined and imprisoned from one to three years. Severe measures
are taken against parents giving away their children for adoption
in return for money.
20. Inducement of children
to depravity (Penal Code arts. 514-536), among which are acts of
forced marriage, prostitution and begging, are all punished with
imprisonment from three to seven years.
Penal Code articles 504-513 stipulate that anyone who rapes a
child or makes false promises of marriage to abuse a female child
will be locked up from six months to seven years.
In effect, all the laws pertaining to the protection of the child
and his/her survival were not able to protect children from
bullets, rockets and bombs that killed, maimed, orphaned and
traumatized many of them for a period of 16 years.
Respect for the views of the child (art. 12), freedom of
expression (art. 13) and freedom of thought, conscience and
religion (art. 14)
23. Article 13 of the
Lebanese Constitution stipulates that the State shall guarantee
freedom of opinion and expression orally, in writing, pictorially
or through any other form.
24. In practice,
freedom of opinion and expression is safeguarded within the limits
of the law. This freedom is enjoyed to a certain extent by all
members of society, including children.
RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS
and nationality (art. 7)
25. Article 13 of
the Personal Status Registration Act of 1951 stipulates that, upon
the birth of an infant, a birth certificate must be filed stating
the year, month, day and hour of birth, as well as its sex, proper
name and parents' names if known.
26. Under the
term of this Act, Lebanese nationality is enjoyed by all the
(a) Anyone born to a father
holding Lebanese nationality;
(b) Anyone born in
Lebanon to a father with a foreign nationality which the child has
(c) Anyone born in Lebanon to unknown
parents. Failing evidence to the contrary, any foundling
discovered in the country is deemed to have been born there;
Anyone born illegitimately if its parentage becomes known while
still a minor, either by acknowledgement or by a court decision,
and if one of the parents was identified as Lebanese; the term "illegitimate"
may be eliminated from the identity card of the child, but it
cannot be deleted from the official documents such as the birth
certificate and other legal papers.
of identity (art. 8)
27. Lebanese law
stipulates that a child, legitimate or illegitimate, has the right
to preserve his/her identity until death.
Articles 492-494 of the Penal Code stipulate that anyone who
abducts a child under seven years of age, substitutes one child
for another or attributes a child to a woman who has not borne him
shall be punished by temporary hard labour. The penalty must not
be less than five years, if the purpose or result of the offence
was the elimination or alteration of evidence concerning the
child's personal status or the entry of false personal details in
the official records.
29. Under the same
articles, anyone who has a child placed in a home for foundlings
by concealing the child's identity, regardless of whether the
child was officially registered as a legitimate or a recognized
illegitimate child, shall be punished by imprisonment for a period
of not less than five years.
30. From the above,
it is evident that the Lebanese Government protects children from
being deprived, in any illegal manner of some or all elements of
C. The right to humane
treatment (art. 37 (a))
31. Article 8 of the
Lebanese Constitution stipulates that personal freedom is
safeguarded by law and that no one can be arrested or imprisoned
except by law.
32. Article 495 of the Penal Code
punishes by imprisonment from six months to three years anyone who
abducts a child, even if this happens with the child's own
33. Decree No. 27 issued in 1959 states
that if abduction takes place by force or by tricking the child,
and if the minor is under 12, the punishment is imprisonment from
3-15 years accompanied by temporary hard labour. If abduction
results in deprivation of liberty for over one month or in
physical and moral torture, then the punishment is imprisonment
and hard labour for life.
34. No minor under
seven years of age can be legally sued or penalized when he or she
commits a crime or violates the law in any way.
Protective and supervisory measures are imposed on children under
12 in the event of their committing a crime.
Disciplinary and reformative measures are imposed on criminal
children between 12 and 15.
ENVIRONMENT AND ALTERNATIVE CARE
guidance (art. 5) and parental responsibilities (art. 18)
37. The Lebanese National Charter stipulates that the
family is the cornerstone in the structure of society. It is the
natural environment for raising children. However, the personal
status laws of all religious groups delegate the custodian care of
children and the welfare and livelihood to the father. The mother
has the right to nursery. Trusteeship, however, is delegated to
her after the father's death, or in the absence of a designated
trustee, or in the case of a court sentence appointing her.
Since the Lebanese laws consider parents the natural environment
of the child, Decree No. 119 of 1983 stipulates that a delinquent
child under 12 must be handed over to his parents unless they are
B. Separation from parents (art. 9)
39. It is only natural that children should grow
up and live with their families. Separation is accepted only in
situations where the interests and rights of the child would be
violated if the child should remain with its parents. Accordingly,
the Government has promulgated the requisite legislation and
regulations to protect the child from any violations. Decree No.
119 issued in 1983 stipulates that no child under 18 can be
segregated from his parents and sent to a reformatory unless
he/she is found in a setting that exposes him/her to deviance,
endangers his/her health, security, morals or education.
Article 495 of the Penal Code stipulates that punishment by
imprisonment from six months to three years is inflicted on anyone
who separates minors under 12 from parents or custodians, even if
this is done with their own consent.
87 of the Personal Status Law states that a foster family or
institution shall undertake the normal duties of the natural
family to ensure the well-being of the child.
From the above, it is clear that the child has a natural right to
grow up and live with his/her parents. However, if the
circumstances are not conducive to that, there is provision in the
law to protect the child from exploitation and abuse.
Family reunification (art. 10)
is no law that forbids families the freedom to leave and return
for the purpose of family reunification or reunions of members of
the same family. Every person, whether Lebanese or alien, has the
right to leave and return, provided that he/she holds the legal
D. Recovery of
maintenance for the child (art. 27)
Under the terms of the Personal Status Law, the husband is solely
responsible for maintenance both during the marriage and after its
dissolution. This provision is in the interests of women and
E. Children deprived of a family
environment (art. 20)
45. Through the
official agencies concerned and with assistance from NGOs, the
Government is striving to safeguard the unity and coherence of
Lebanese families and protect them from disintegration and
delinquency. To ensure the proper upbringing of children, the
Ministry of Social Affairs has made provisions for basic social
services through establishing:
centres for Community Social Development Services and 41
socio-medical centres all over the Lebanese territory. These
centres offer services to a variety of needy children;
One hundred and forty-two social institutions in cooperation with
NGOs that service 6,547 orphans and 14,718 social cases, 1,075
infants, 25 deviant girls and 3,713 students in vocational
(c) Nine day care centres that cater to the
needs of 449 infants and 23 day care centres and nursery schools,
in cooperation with NGOS, that accommodate 1,868 children;
Institutions for the handicapped on all levels, also in
cooperation with NGOs.
F. Adoption (art. 21)
46. The Personal Status Law for Muslims
prohibits adoption under all circumstances. Even when it happens,
it is considered "annulled". However, trusteeship is
practised where the child is taken care of as one of the members
of the family but he/she is not entitled to inheritance or other
privileges of the legal child.
Christians, the adopted child enjoys all the rights and privileges
of the biological child. Adoption laws for Christians are
practised by the religious courts.
protect the child from abuse and exploitation the law stipulates
specific conditions for adoption.
49. An adopted
individual, under Lebanese law, has the right to annul his/her
adoption after 18 if he/she feels that the guardian or custodian
is not fair in his/her treatment.
118 of the Personal Status Law for Catholics stipulates that
citizens of other countries may adopt Lebanese children. These
adopted children fall under the law of the country into which they
51. The Penal Code No. 224 of 1993,
article 500, states that any parents who give up their child for
adoption or give away the child in return for money are punished
by imprisonment from one to three years and are fined from 5 to 20
million Lebanese pounds. Any partners who are involved with them
are treated likewise.
G. Illicit transfer
and non-return (art. 11)
52. Article 127 of
the Personal Status Act stipulates that a woman who has been
granted custody of a child shall not be permitted to take the
child out of the country without the consent of the father or the
male guardian. The same applies to the father. He cannot take a
child who is in the custody of the mother out of the country
without her consent.
53. No child is given a
passport without his/her father's or guardian's consent.
No child under 15 may travel alone using a family passport.
Abuse and neglect (art. 19) including physical and
psychological recovery and social reintegration (art. 39)
55. Decree No. 119 stipulates that those who
induce youngsters to use drugs will be severely punished by
imprisonment and hard labour from 3-15 years. The law also
protects those youngsters who use drugs by providing special
institutions for their rehabilitation and lighter forms of
56. Articles 501-536 of the Penal
Code stipulate severe measures of punishment, in the form of hard
labour, high fines and imprisonment from 3-15 years on those
adults who exploit or abuse a child under 18 sexually.
Article 495 of the Penal Code makes provisions to protect children
from abduction and brutal treatment. It stipulates that anyone
abducting a child will be imprisoned from six months to three
58. Article 500 of the Penal Code No. 224
stipulates that every person who abandons a child under 18 in
exchange for money or any other benefit is punished by
imprisonment from one year to three years and by a fine ranging
from 5 to 20 million Lebanese pounds. The same penalty applies to
the partner and mediator.
59. From the above, it
is evident that the Government has taken various appropriate
legislative, administrative and other measures to protect the
child from violence, harm, neglect, exploitation and abuse.
However, the war in Lebanon has exposed many children to acts of
violence and trauma that have left negative effects.
NGOs in cooperation with governmental organizations are searching
for means and measures to counterbalance the negative effects of
war on the young. Conflict control and conflict resolution
programmes are achieving positive results, as are some of the
other means which will be discussed later in this report. However,
there is no doubt that there is need for more well-designed
programmes to avoid the many social problems that may arise as a
result of ignoring or neglecting children and youth who were
scarred by war and violence.
institutions, orphanages and institutions for the handicapped are
full to capacity with children who are there for a variety of
62. Statistics and accurate information
on numbers of children adopted, orphaned, disabled, abused,
abducted, institutionalized, homeless, delinquents, drug addicts
and others are not available at present. Now that peace prevails
in the country, a database project has been started with UNFPA and
it is expected that in the coming two years the picture will be
V. BASIC HEALTH
and development (art. 6)
63. The main
targets that the Ministry of Health has set and is endeavouring to
achieve by 1995 in regard to survival and development include:
(a) A reduction in the infant mortality rate
from 35 per thousand in 1990 to 23 per thousand;
A reduction in the under-5 mortality rate from 43 per thousand in
1990 to 28 per thousand;
(c) A reduction of severe
malnutrition among children under five from 16 per cent in 1986 to
12 per cent;
(d) A reduction from 14 per thousand in
1990 to 12 per thousand in the incidence of intestinal diseases
and deaths among children under five;
(e) A reduction
in the incidence of acute respiratory diseases from 3.7 per
thousand in 1979 to 2.4 per thousand;
(f) A reduction
of deaths from contagious diseases from 10.5 per thousand in 1979
to 7 per thousand;
(g) A reduction in the number of
low-weight children (under 2.5 kg) from 9.5 per cent in 1991 to 7
(h) The eradication of infantile paralysis
and neonatal tetanus and an increase in the percentage of
immunization against polio and DPT/OPV fever from 87.4 per cent in
1993 to over 90 per cent in 1995;
(i) A reduction in
measles cases, including an increase in the percentage of
vaccinations from 65 per cent in 1993 to over 80 per cent in 1995.
64. The practical measures and programmes that
are being implemented by the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of
Social Affairs, UNICEF and NGOs include:
Continuation of the national immunization programme against
infantile paralysis, DPT/OPV3 fever and measles. Here are some
results of these efforts:
(i) In 1992, 85 per cent of
children under one were given the triple vaccine while in 1993 it
was 87.47 per cent;
(ii) In 1992, 50.8 per cent of
children under one were vaccinated against measles. In 1993, this
was 65.0 per cent;
(iii) In 1992, 89.2 per cent of
children under two received the triple vaccine while in 1993, 87.4
per cent received the same vaccine;
(iv) In 1992,
65.1 per cent of children under two received the measles vaccine
while 65 per cent of the same age group received the vaccine in
(b) Revision of the legislation concerning
nurseries in the country. The new measures recommended are
stricter and more protective of the children than the previous
ones. There is provision for supervision, evaluation and
follow-up. It also includes punitive measures against violators;
(c) Banning of smoking in public areas along with
information as to its detrimental effect on health in general and
on children in particular;
(d) Implementing school
health programmes to a certain extent;
Disseminating information on the value of iodized salt for health;
(f) Observing 10 April, declared as World Day for
(g) Placing pressure on hospitals to
stop giving commercial baby food as a replacement to
(h) Developing health materials for
use in schools and social centres;
health issues in 10,000 children under five;
Issuing of Decree No. 334 stating that a medical certificate
should be secured from the Ministry of Health before marriage. The
following tests are requested: HIV, thalassaemia, ABO/RH,
hepatitis B, VDRL, H.B.F. and German measles.
The Forum of National NGOs on the Rights of the Child is
(a) A medical insurance certificate
for each child;
(b) Enforcing the law which
stipulates the necessity of tests before marriage (accomplished);
(c) Granting mothers a maternity leave of three
months with pay and one year without pay;
Educating children in health issues.
children (art. 23)
66. After 16 years of war
one cannot but expect a dramatic increase in the number of
individuals with special problems.
67. There is
a great lack in statistical data. There are some informal studies
which estimate the number of the disabled in Lebanon to be 1.5 per
cent of the total population, while others raise this estimate to
5 per cent covering all age groups, including handicaps due to
chronic illnesses. Although one cannot fully rely on these
numbers, the 1981 survey estimated the number of disabled to be
around 43,896, keeping in mind that the whole Lebanese population
is a little over 2 million. (Muffarij, 1988).
The newly established Ministry of Social Affairs in 1992 made it
clear that one of its main concerns is the issue of disability.
The Ministry defined its objectives as follows:
To prepare a comprehensive Plan of Action, to supervise its
implementation, and to provide comprehensive social services;
(b) To provide help for the social projects in
process and to contribute to the realization of other projects;
(c) To cater to the needy, the orphans, and the
(d) To be concerned with family
(e) To take care of juvenile delinquents,
prisoners, displaced people, senior citizens and others;
To combat drug addiction;
(g) To prepare recycling
programmes and to supervise their implementation;
To monitor non-profit social organizations that provide social
69. The Ministry established a
National Committee for the disabled.
70. The law
of 1973 concerning the disabled was modified to give the term a
wider scope. A disabled person, as defined in the revised Law No.
243 issued in 1993, includes those individuals who find it
difficult to carry out an act that is considered essential in
everyday life, due to physical, mental or psychological reasons.
These defects include people with visual handicaps, oral/aural
handicaps, locomotor handicaps (like amputees or paralytics),
mental/learning disabilities and nervous handicaps.
The new law made education of the disabled compulsory, eliminated
all forms of discrimination against them in employment or
otherwise and granted them equal rights in health and education.
72. Agreements are concluded between the
Ministry of Social Affairs and NGOs to offer joint services in the
areas of health, education, social welfare, family planning,
special needs - physical or mental - and delinquency. Projects of
this nature total 143 and represent 109 organizations.
The number of children who benefit from these services are as
Day care 3,590
|Mother and child care
All the above
services are financed by the Ministry of Social Affairs and the
74. The Ministry of Social
Affairs also has centres that offer comprehensive services. Their
main objective is to help develop independent, responsible
citizens who will be active members in society. Following is a
listing of the services offered by these centres and their
|Mother and child care
|Social educational services
|Handcrafts and embroidery
All the above
services are financed by the Ministry of Social Affairs.
The Ministry of Health has enacted legislation that provides free
hospitalization to children who suffer any form of disability.
76. A close examination of the services
available in the field of disability in Lebanon reveals the
existence of a few specialized institutions relative to the number
of disabled in the country. There are 31 institutions only that
provide for the needs of 3,011 disabled distributed as follows:
|Cerebral palsy victims
Out of this group
934 are receiving vocational training.
the available institutions, very few offer quality education. Most
of them suffer from lack of professionals and inadequate funding.
In some centres the living conditions leave a lot to be desired
(Muffarej 1988; Salem 1991).
78. There is only
one university that offers a specialization in Special Education.
79. The issue of disability is receiving more
attention now than ever before from the Government, the media,
individuals, groups, educational institutions and others.
Nevertheless, the needs are so tremendous and the supply of funds
and human resources is limited.
and health services (art. 24)
Ministry of Health policy advocates health care for all citizens.
Under this policy, primary health care is considered essential.
Health messages and television spots to raise awareness are also
produced by the Ministry.
81. The legislative
Decree No. 159 issued in 1982 stipulates that the Ministry of
Health will provide health services in the designated 15 districts
for every 200,000 inhabitants with a subsidiary health centre for
every 30,000 inhabitants. Each centre will be staffed with three
full-time doctors, two of whom will be general practitioners and
one paediatrician, three part-time doctors - one gynaecologist,
one dentist and one school health specialist -one assistant
pharmacist, two midwives, two registered nurses and two assistant
nurses, one X-ray specialist, one laboratory technician, one
public health person and five staff members.
The Decree was revised in 1991 to stipulate the geographic
location in which the health centres will be erected. The
structure will be the same but local committees and NGOs in the
areas are to be involved in planning, execution, follow-up and
evaluation. Centres have been equipped in the underserved areas to
provide primary health care services for the family, including
83. The Ministry of Health has its
own laboratories to check on the safety of drinking water,
imported foods (several foodstuffs were destroyed in the last few
years), medicine, vaccines and others. UNICEF assists the Ministry
in this action.
84. The Ministry of Health works
closely with the Ministry of Social Affairs to provide medical
care in the Community Social Centres mentioned earlier, and to
implement its immunization campaigns.
First Lady of Lebanon, Mrs. Mona Hrawi, solicited enough donations
to open a medical centre in Beirut to serve the needs of those
children with chronic diabetes and thalassaemia. The centre offers
medical care and medicine and provides parents with necessary
86. In September 1993 the Ministry
of Health issued a decree establishing a "National Committee
for the Survey of Mother and Child Health". This was a joint
project with the Arab Council for Childhood.
The same Ministry is in the process of preparing a Comprehensive
National Strategy for Primary Health Care (PHC) in conjunction
with Dr. Faruk Bartu's PHC Plan of Action (1993-1996). The
National Committee for PHC is to undertake the implementation of
the programme which includes, inter alia, a programme for
the protection of mother and child.
against HIV are also being taken by the Ministry of Health and
WHO. A report from the Ministry:
"Shortly after the
introduction of HIV to Lebanon, women are emerging as a
particularly vulnerable group to the HIV infection. Despite an
overall low prevalence situation, the pattern of HIV spread has
been clearly identified as predominantly heterosexual. The male to
female ratio of persons with HIV/AIDS has decreased from 5:1 in
1992 to 2:1 by the end of 1993 (M/F HIV - AIDS = 37/17; M/F AIDS =
25/7; M/F excluding AIDS cases = 12/10). Four new affected
newborns were registered in 1993 amounting to an overall nine
neonatal HIV/AIDS cases.
The most important step in this
regard is of course the prevention of the HIV infection in young
women in the first place. Failing this, the already infected women
should be educated regarding the risks of perinatal transmission
and be helped to avoid pregnancy or to terminate unintended
pregnancies. Several of the existing NGOs have already worked in
the area of family planning and prevention of unwanted
These include the Family Planning
Association of Lebanon, the Imam Sadr Foundation, Lebanese Women's
Association, the Institute for Women Studies and the Armenian
Relief Organization. The educational activities envisaged are as
- Production of
a pamphlet on risks of perinatal HIV transmission and infection
for use by antenatal clinic staff, primary health workers,
midwives and other professional groups involved in the care of
to train family planning counsellors, mother and child health
service providers, and field workers with the aim of equipping
them with the additional skills and information needed for
counselling HIV infected women and their families;
Legal and educational campaigns to remove the existing barriers to
the distribution of condoms to unmarried young women;
Educational campaigns to extend/promote easy access to therapeutic
abortion for HIV infected women." The Role of Women and
Aids Prevention and Control, Cairo, 16-18 May 1994, Lebanon
89. WHO promotes awareness among
citizens and provides information for protection against disease.
LEISURE AND CULTURAL ACTIVITIES
including vocational training and guidance (art. 28)
To date, education in Lebanon is not compulsory. There are some
attempts, however, by NGOs demanding legislation to make education
in the primary cycle compulsory.
statistics for 1991-1992 on student enrolment in schools and
universities are as follows:
|Preschool and elementary
|Secondary and intermediate
Children are admitted to the public school at the age of 5 but
private schools may take children as young as 2½.
The educational sector is one of the areas that was badly hit by
the war. School buildings were occupied or totally demolished,
personnel immigrated, migrated, or had the ill fate of being
handicapped or killed. Citizens were constantly on the move
seeking protection and safety, which lowered the importance of
education on their list of priorities. Children were deprived of
books, of schooling, of play and then of proper social and
94. Statistics reveal an
increasing percentage of illiteracy. A survey of women between the
ages of 15-49 indicated a 53.8 per cent illiteracy rate in one
area and 78 per cent in another. These figures are not very
reliable, but indicative of the seriousness of the issue.
Since 1990 the Ministry of Education, in cooperation with NGOs and
international organizations, has been attempting to rebuild,
refurnish, renovate and overhaul the schools. Many new schools
have opened, but the whole educational system needs revamping.
96. There are plans for revising the curriculum
but no measures have yet been taken to do so. However,
environmental and health studies have little by little made their
way into the schools.
97. Vocational training
has been on the increase among youngsters and women. The economic
situation in the country is such that it is practically impossible
for a family to live on one income. This fact has motivated many
young people to seek employment. The Government, NGOs and
international organizations are active in providing vocational
training in a variety of fields including both traditional and
innovative skills. These include sewing, embroidery, hairdressing,
crafts, beauty skills, leather, upholstery, hotel staff skills,
nurse's aide, dentist's aide, secretarial skills, computer skills,
business skills, building skills (electricity, plumbing, etc.)
carpentry and others.
98. Some NGOs with
assistance from international organizations and foreign embassies,
are providing libraries for children in the city and in rural
areas. Recipients of books include public schools, social centres,
orphanages, remote rural areas, and others.
The war years have seen nurseries, nursery schools, and day care
centres mushrooming all over the country. In 1975 there were about
20 nurseries while in 1994 there are more than 148 private
nurseries whose main aim is commercial. Nine nurseries are
affiliated with the Ministry of Social Affairs and they cater for
449 children. Twenty-three nurseries are a joint service between
the Ministry and NGOs and their enrolment is 1,868 children.
A survey by the Ministry of Health revealed that 40 per cent of
the nurseries and nursery schools have fewer than 4 rooms, 72 per
cent accommodate less than 40 children, 86 per cent occupy only
one floor, and above 61 per cent have space less than 200 m2.
However, most of them do not meet the necessary standards or have
the necessary equipment, facilities, or personnel, and they are
101. The Ministry of Health
is in the process of setting standards and legislation to ensure
quality nurseries and day care centres. Nurseries were defined in
Presidential Decree No. 1775/1979 as institutions that take care
of children under 3 during some hours of the day. The Ministry's
new plan will alleviate some of the problems and will give these
infants and toddlers a better start.
of education (art. 29)
102. Aims of
education for Lebanese children stress the total development of
the child's physical, social, intellectual, moral and
psychological aspects of personality. However, the actual emphasis
in Lebanese schools is on academic achievement and generally at
the expense of the other areas. Most schools are interested in the
scores that students earn on the government exams at different
levels. Failing students, slow learners, children with learning
problems, those at risk, hyperactive children and others are not
accepted in most of the schools. Very few schools practise
mainstreaming, but there is a little more understanding and
acceptance of the disabled.
103. Article 3 of Decree No.
9099/1968 considers the study of the human and natural environment
as one of the main aims of education in the primary cycle. It
states that "Respect for and preservation of the environment
are moral and civilized behaviour stemming from an education
rooted in childhood."
recreation and cultural activities (art. 31)
This area is totally neglected by most educational institutions
and by the Government. Lebanese children and young people have
very little training in the creative use of leisure either at home
or at school.
105. A survey on high school and
university students revealed that a high percentage of them waste
leisure time driving cars and gossiping. Sports, music, drama,
hobbies are for the very few who can afford to pay the price of
these so-called "luxuries". This is an area that needs
106. The private sector is
more active than the Government in providing cultural activities
to children in the form of book exhibits, drama, puppet shows,
music and dance. The quality, in general, leaves a lot to be
desired since it tends to be commercial.
The children's book industry is thriving. Many books are
translated and printed in Lebanon. The quality is improving to
some extent, but more screening needs to be done.
Lebanese children have the advantage of being bilingual or
trilingual. This skill provides them many opportunities of
exposure to good world literature, available on the market.
Unfortunately, books are too expensive for the majority of
children to afford.
109. The private sector
offers a variety of children's magazines, some original and others
translated. The quality of content and the physical appearance are
generally poor. Quality magazines are very expensive.
in situtations of emergency
children (art. 22)
110. Palestinian refugee
children in Lebanon are taken care of by UNRWA, UNICEF, a number
of NGOs and international organizations. Services to the children
include education, health services, employment, recreation and
2. Children in armed conflict (art.
38) including physical and psychological recovery and social
reintegration (art. 39)
111. Now that the
war is over and militias do not exist (at least openly),
youngsters are not forced into carrying arms. Military service is
for men over 18.
112. The psychological scars
inflicted by war on the young are much harder to detect since they
are not apparent to the eye. Studies conducted on thousands of
children in Lebanon all reveal the detrimental effect of war on
children in Lebanon.
113. There are attempts in
the country, initiated by NGOs and supported by the Government and
international organizations, to alleviate the negative effects of
the war. The programmes are varied and comprise different age
groups. They include structural classroom instruction, drama,
puppetry, summer camps, day camps, publications, conferences,
seminars, exchange programmes with other countries,
extra-curricular activities in schools, and others. The
programmes, although varied, have the ultimate aims of healing the
psyches of the young and recapturing the magic of childhood of
which they were robbed at an early age. Children whose early years
were turbulent and whose development was disrupted by acts of
violence and hate need very special attention. The results so far
are encouraging, but the years ahead can only tell if the aims
will be fulfilled.
B. Children in conflict
with the law
1. The administration of
juvenile justice (art. 40)
114. Article 29
of legislative Decree No. 119/1983 for the protection of juvenile
delinquents states that court hearing charges brought against any
juvenile shall be in a special court known as the "Juvenile
Court". A special judge is appointed to this court. The court
is assisted by the "Association for the Protection of Young
People" which is officially recognized as a general interest
association (art. 51 of the Law for the Protection of Young
115. The trial proceedings of the
Juvenile Court are conducted in camera. Any investigations
involving the young person, whether at the police station or by
the judge, must take place in the presence of the Association
delegate, a lawyer, and the child's parents. If the parents or the
Association cannot afford to appoint a lawyer, the Juvenile Court
itself will designate one (art. 45 of the Law for the Protection
of Young People and art. 244 of the Penal Code).
It is not permitted to disseminate pictures or publish the trial
processes in print or via audio-visual media.
The court can excuse the child from attending the trial if it
deems this practice in the child's best interest.
The Association delegate who attends the trial must offer the
court the necessary advice concerning the person who will provide
custodial care for the child.
119. The court may
order measures to protect the child by placing him/her in the care
of its parents, legal guardian, a member of the family, a
relative, or a custodian.
120. No one under 18
years of age is considered criminally responsible.
Criminal charges may not be brought against anyone under seven
years of age (Decree No. 119).
deprived of their liberty, including any form of detention,
imprisonment or placement in custodial settings (art. 37 (b) -
122. Decree No. 119, issued on 16
August 1983 stipulates that any child over seven committing a
breach of the law or found begging or taking the street or any
public place as his/her abode may be subjected to the following
measures by the Juvenile Court:
(a) Custody or
(b) Supervision by the court;
Detention in a reformatory (established in 1964 by Decree No.
(d) Disciplinary acts;
Reduced criminal sentence (for children over 12).
The Association for the Protection of Young People delegate
supervises the young person's behaviour at the reformatory, social
institution or other, and reports regularly to the court on the
child's progress. The delegate is also requested to monitor the
child's education and social development.
Strict measures are taken against the custodians or guardians
whose neglect of the youngster might cause the latter to commit a
crime. Custodians, who will be given the responsibility of caring
for a delinquent, are carefully selected.
The Ministry of Justice allows the Juvenile Court to give the
young person all medical care needed. Lebanese law prohibits the
detention of children 7-12 who may commit unlawful acts, unless
they are vagrants.
126. It is not permitted by
law to lock up children between 12-18 with adults.
The Ministry of Justice is requesting a modification of the law
which would allow the transfer of juvenile delinquents from the
reformatory to an ordinary prison at the age of 21 rather than at
age 18, as the current law stipulates.
Article 16 of Decree No. 119 stipulates that upon receiving
reports of good behaviour supported by actual observation of a
specific case, the Juvenile Court has the right to release the
child from detention or custody, temporarily or for good.
The Association for the Protection of Young People suffered badly
during the war. Its buildings were occupied by militiamen and the
funds allocated by the Government were minimal and inadequate. Now
that the war is over, efforts are under way to reactivate it and
restore its original functions.
reformatory had its share of problems during the armed conflict
since it was occupied by militiamen. Children, if detained, were
locked up with adults.
131. The Ministry of
Social Affairs, in cooperation with the Lebanese School of Social
Work at the St. Joseph University, has concluded a plan of action
for the prevention of delinquency as well as the rehabilitation of
delinquents. Its objectives are:
delinquent acts by providing the following preventive measures:
(i) Supervising closely children's development and
protecting their rights;
(ii) Assisting families to
provide the proper environment for optimum development;
Improving the children's environment, on the social, educational,
legislative, economic and health levels;
for, guiding and rehabilitating those youngsters who are likely to
(c) Providing the appropriate
measures for their protection;
(d) Implementing the
rights of the child contained in the United Nations Convention.
132. The issue will be tackled on three levels:
(a) Implementation of general preventive
(b) Short-term rehabilitation;
133. The plan includes
designated actions to fulfil the objectives specified above.
It is evident from the above account that children are not
deprived of their liberty except in accordance with the law.
Special courts are provided and special places have been
designated for their detention. Furthermore, plans are under way
for the prevention of delinquency and the protection of children
in accordance with the international rights declared.
The sentencing of juveniles, in particular the prohibition of
capital punishment and life imprisonment (art. 37 (a))
The provisions of the law are clear concerning the imposition of
such penalties. Articles 3, 4, 5 of Decree No. 119 stipulate that:
(a) No criminal charges can be taken against a
child under 15;
(b) No juvenile shall be sentenced to
capital punishment or hard labour;
(c) If a young
person over 15 and younger than 18 commits a criminal act
punishable by death or life sentence with hard labour, he shall be
detained from 5-15 years;
(d) If the criminal act is
punishable by temporary hard labour, he shall be detained from 3-7
(e) For other crimes he shall be detained from
136. From the above, it is evident
that no criminal charges can be taken against a child under 12,
nor can a juvenile or adolescent be sentenced to death or hard
labour. In the latter case, the penalties are reduced and these
are in line with article 37 of the Convention.
Physical and psychological recovery and social reintegration
137. The plan designed by the
Ministry of Social Affairs, which was stated above, places a lot
of weight on rehabilitation, both physical and social, to assist
youngsters in the process of social reintegration. The case of
Lebanon is special since all the children, in institutions or out,
need psychological recovery and rehabilitation. This matter was
C. Children in situations
of exploitation, including physical and psychological recovery and
social reintegration (art. 39)
exploitation, including child labour (art. 39)
The Lebanese laws strive to protect children from exploitation.
Articles 22 and 23 of the Labour Code issued in 1946 stipulate
(a) No child under 8 is allowed to engage
in employment. Seven NGOs have requested the raising of the
employment age to 10. It is now being studied in the parliament
and will hopefully be implemented soon;
(b) No child
between 8 and 13 is permitted to work in any kind of mechanical
(c) No child under 16 is permitted to
engage in night work from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m.;
child under 16 is allowed to work more than 7 hours a day. A
1-hour break at least is obligatory if daily work goes beyond 4
(e) No child under 16 is allowed to work in
heavy industries unless he has obtained a medical certificate
confirming that he is physically able to perform such activities
without endangering his health.
139. There are
no statistics to show that these laws are implemented. The hard
economic situation in the country may force some children to work
for sheer survival.
140. In two years' time the
results of the study that the Government is to execute with the
ILO should provide the necessary data.
abuse (art. 33)
141. Lebanese drug laws
sentence to imprisonment with hard labour from 3 to 15 years, any
person who deals with drugs in any manner or form. The only
exception to the law is Decree No. 119/1983 which decreases the
penalty to a period of imprisonment from 6 to 18 months for
youngsters under 18 years of age.
Ministry of Social Affairs project for prevention and
rehabilitation should provide the necessary data concerning the
size of the problem as well as rehabilitate those afflicted to
become more productive members of society.
Sexual exploitation and sexual abuse (art. 34)
Article 505 states that anyone who sexually abuses a child under
15 is punished by a term of hard labour, which may range from 5-15
144. Article 506 stipulates that if a
child over 15 and under 18 is sexually abused by any one of her
legally designated or other ascendants, or anyone entrusted with
her upbringing or supervision or anyone of the hired help they may
have, the offender shall be punished by a term of hard labour.
145. The law also states that anyone who abuses
a male or a female sexually or induces him or her to engage in an
indecent act shall be punished by a term of hard labour.
Abduction for purposes of exploitation are also punished by
147. Articles 502, 503, 504 made
provisions for a heavier penalty for the offences of sexual
assault that may result in death or illness of the victim or if
the act had been committed by two offenders on the same victim.
148. A penalty of imprisonment from 3 to 15
years shall be imposed on anyone who uses threat, intimidation or
deception to force a child to prostitution.
A close look at the above-mentioned provisions reveals clearly
that the Penal Code protects children, but what is practised might
differ considerably from the written law. There is hardly a day
that passes without the news of abuse and exploitation in the
4. Other forms of exploitation (art.
150. The war has left many social ills
that are overwhelming. The housing situation, the electricity
cuts, the shortage of water supply, the lack of schools, the high
inflation rate, the displacement of families, the high rate of
pollution, the lack of town planning that does not leave any
breathing or playing space for children, the archaic curricula
that overburden children, and many other social ills could be
considered forms of exploitation. The Government, however, is
trying to alleviate some of these problems, but there are many
children who are still suffering.
trafficking and abduction (art. 35)
Article 495 of the Penal Code states that if a child is abducted,
even with his/her own consent, the penalty shall be from 6 months
to 3 years.
152. If abduction takes place
through deception or under threat, and the victim's age is less
than 12, the penalty is a term of hard labour.
A life sentence is the penalty imposed on that person who abducts
another and keeps him/her for a period of one month or inflicts on
the victim forms of physical or psychological torture.
In Lebanon now there are a number of aliens who are imported for a
fee to serve as hired help in homes and other menial jobs. Some of
these are maltreated. Others are brought in as bar maids and show
girls who are exploited by their impresarios.
Children belonging to a minority or to an indigenous group
155. Lebanon is a country of
minorities. It has a mosaic of ethnic and religious groups where
everyone is part of the whole. They all enjoy complete freedom to
practise their religious, educational and cultural rights as they
lack of studies in Lebanon and for shortage of time, it has not
been possible to show, statistically, the number of children who
are exploited, abused, dealing with drugs, working, attending
school, out of school, detained, and others. These problems do
exist, especially after the long years of strife, but studies are
under way and in a couple of years we hope to have more
157. It is rewarding, however,
to know that the ministries concerned, Social Affairs, Health,
Justice, Labour and Education, along with NGOs and international
organizations, are sensitive to the needs. In cooperation and
collaboration with each other, they are trying to reconstruct and
rebuild a country that has been completely devastated by war.
Starting with children is ensuring a strong foundation and a
brighter future for them, for Lebanon, and for the world family.
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Attiyeh, S. Problems of
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Epidemiology, 1989, 24: 282-287.
Trilivas, S. Abu Nasr, J. Conflict Control: A Classroom
Program for Reducing Interpersonal Conflict. Institute for
Women Studies in the Arab World, BUC, 1993.
Legislation Pertaining to children in Lebanon, 3 Vols.
Muffarij, R. A Report on
Children with Special Needs in Lebanon, 1988.
L. Legislation Pertaining to Women in Lebanon, Institute
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