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I- Introduction

II- General measures of implementation (arts. 4, 42, 44 par.6)

   A. Legal framework

     1. Application of the Convention on the Rights of the Child

     2. Laws and regulations adopted since the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child

   B. Measures undertaken to implement the Convention on the Rights of the Child

     1. Government bodies

     2. Lebanese non-governmental organizations

III- Definition of the child (art. 1)

IV- Civil Rights and freedoms

   A. A child's right to a name and legal identity (arts. 7, 8)

   B. A child's right to nationality (art. 7)

V- Basic health and welfare

   A. Disabled children (art.23)

   B. Health and health services (art.24)

     1. Infant mortality

     2. Healthcare system

     3. Prenatal health

     4. Natal and postnatal health

     5. HIV and AIDS

   C. Social security (art.26)

VI- Education (arts. 27, 28)

VII- Special protection measures

   A. Children in conflict with the law (arts. 37 a), b), c), d), 39, 40)

   B. Children in situation of exploitation (arts. 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 39)









I- Introduction

With the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), the United Nations proclaimed that childhood is entitled to special care and assistance. This was the starting point for the development of a broad consensus in the international community on the necessity to grant children fundamental rights. In 1959, the Declaration on the Rights of the Child was adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations. Without being a binding instrument, this declaration was nevertheless the first United Nations instrument devoted entirely to children. More then thirty years later, on November 20th 1989, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, a treaty dedicated to protecting the rights of children was finally adopted by the UN General Assembly.

By ratifying the Convention on the Rights of the Child, on May 14 1991, without any reservations, Lebanon has expressed its commitment to effectively realize the rights of children and adopt all necessary and appropriate measures to that end. However, rights are only effective when implemented. Therefore, intense political, social and legal efforts were expected by the Government. Unfortunately, day to day experience shows that tensions, discrepancies, or indifference emerge mostly through implementation. This results in a considerable gap between the legal dimension and reality. Since the end of the war in 1990, a huge segment of the Lebanese population has been facing hard times. Political uncertainty within the region and difficult socio-economic conditions have contributed to the rise of inflation, unemployment and poverty. Children are of course the first group to be affected by these circumstances. This has translated into the increase, among others, of crimes and misdemeanours committed by children, child labour, as well as violence against children and child abuse.

The absence of governmental infrastructures catering to children's needs and rights, assigns to non-governmental organizations (NGOs) a major role in the implementation of the Convention. By collecting data and developing indicators on children's rights, NGOs can help identify the rights violated and the steps that should be taken to ensure the full implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The situation is such that it makes it necessary, as a matter of urgency, to explore and develop effective monitoring of implementation. Thus, the input of NGOs becomes essential in assessing the state of children's rights in Lebanon.

In this perspective, the Lebanese NGO Forum has set up, the Child's Rights Monitor Project, a network of specialized NGOs with the purpose of monitoring children's rights in Lebanon. The network aims at establishing, through the Internet, a set of baseline data and elaborating a permanent reporting mechanism. Generating more respect for children and thus improving their condition is described in the Convention as a continuous task. Viewed in this light, reporting has an important part to play.

This regularly updated online report covers the latest developments and setbacks concerning the state of children in the Country. It strives to provide information on children's rights and the implementation of the Convention in Lebanon. While it follows the guidelines set by the Committee on the Rights of the Child, emphasis is essentially on specific matters that concern the Lebanese child. The report describes the main violations of children's rights in Lebanon and prioritizes the measures that should be taken, according to the most urgent needs of these children. It also identifies the major social, economic, cultural, political and legal barriers to the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and reviews the possible approaches to eliminating these obstacles.

In order to make the case for both the necessity and the possibility for change, documentation and evidence are gathered to illustrate each issue. The information available in the report is based on data and statistics communicated by participating NGOs, the United Nations and the Government as well as legal cases, news clips, academic research, books, provisions of national and local laws and regulations.


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  1. General measures of Implementation (arts. 4, 42, 33 par.6)

  1. Legal Framework

1. Application of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in the Lebanese legal system

In the Lebanese legal system, an international treaty ratified by the government is self-executing in domestic law. In other words, once the law stating the ratification of the treaty is published in the Official Gazette, the treaty, as a whole, becomes directly applicable before the Lebanese courts. Moreover, according to article 2 of the Civil Code of Procedure, in cases of conflict with domestic law, the provisions of the Convention should take precedence over national norms. This is especially true in the case of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (hereafter cited as "CRC") since the government did not submit any reservation during the ratification of the treaty. Thus, all provisions of the Convention can be invoked in a national court where a magistrate can use it as a basis for his ruling.

Theoretically, the Convention can be applied by judges in three jurisdictions: the administrative, judicial and religious. However, whereas the administrative and judicial jurisdictions are in fact subject to the provisions of the Convention, the case may differ for the religious jurisdiction. Indeed, in accordance with the Lebanese constitution, each religious community is autonomous and has its own legislative and judicial bodies. Religious courts of each community hold authority on matters of personal status such as marriage, divorce, child custody, adoption and inheritance. Hence, in practice, the application of provisions of the CRC on these specific matters is left to their discretion. Nonetheless, any decision rendered by religious authorities can be overruled by the Lebanese Supreme Court (Cour de Cassation) if it goes against public policy. Unfortunately, to this date, there are no records of provisions of the CRC being invoked before religious courts.

Judicial courts, on the other hand, have applied the CRC, but the reported cases are rare. One of the main decisions in Lebanese case law acknowledging provisions of the CRC is the Lebanese Supreme Court (Cour de Cassation) ruling in Assaf vs the National Social Security Fund. In this case, the court ruled against the NSSF for discrimination against women in the field of employment and applied the provisions of ILO convention no 111 and made reference to the CRC to allocate social benefits to the children of the plaintiff .

The rarity of cases based on the CRC can be explained by the fact that the text of the Convention was never published in the Official Gazette. Hence, only few lawyers and judges are aware of its existence. Small steps have been taken to raise awareness about the CRC and other human rights treaties among judges and lawyers. For example, for the past year, Bar examinations and Magistrate School examinations have included questions on human rights treaties. Still, the majority of public officials, lawyers and judges are not familiar with the provisions of the CRC. Training sessions should therefore be organized by the government and relevant professional corporations to provide information on the CRC to all members of the legal, administrative and judicial professions. Once public officers, lawyers and judges start applying the provisions of the CRC, it will be then possible to establish a series of precedents and special legal opinions which, in due time, will lead to the integration of principles of the CRC in domestic legislation.


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2. Laws and regulations adopted since the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child

Since the ratification of the Convention by the Lebanese government, Parliament has adopted new laws and amended existing ones so as to bring national legislation in conformity with the principles set by the CRC. Despite these efforts, many provisions in national legislation remain in viwith the CRC principles (for more details, please refer to relevant sections of this report).

New legislation of general interest that also concern children:

  1. Law no 243/93 (1993) regarding persons with disabilities
  2. Law no 334/94 (1994) making medical certificate mandatory with each marriage form.
  3. Governmental decree no 36, (30/06/1995) regarding classification of disabilities and handicaps and the issue of personal cards for persons with disabilities providing them with total health care coverage by the Ministry of Health and other services.
  4. Law no 1834 (3/12/99) for the rights of persons with disabilities

New legislation that specifically concern children :

  1. Law no 224, 13/5/93 (1993) regarding the establishment of sanctions for all adoption operations conducted in exchange for money.
  2. Decree no 288, (14/02/1994) regarding medical rules of conduct that obligate physicians to inform relevant authorities when abused or neglected children are brought before them for medical examination.
  3. Amendments in the labor code regarding child labor, pursuant to law no 536/96 (1996), which raise the minimum working age from 8 to 13 years and widen the scope of protection with regards to conditions of employment.
  4. Law no 541, 24/07/96 (1996) regarding the abolition of the term "illegitimate child" or any equivalent term from the identity card .
  5. Letter no 32 from the Attorney General (01/09/97) regarding the implementation of the decree no 119/83. It stipulates that a delegate from the association UPEL (union for the protection of the child) shall be called for attendance before any interrogation or investigation is conducted with a young offender
  6. Decree no 686 (16/03/98) making elementary education (until the age of 12) compulsory and free of cost.

B- Measures undertaken to implement the Convention on the Rights of the Child

The application of the CRC by the courts, and the adoption of new laws by Parliament are only the first step in the process of implementing children's rights in Lebanon. It is up to governmental bodies and non-governmental organizations to take measures to implement the principles of the CRC. One of their major achievements was to include the teaching of the Convention in the official school curricula within a program entitled "Civic education". In addition, in May of 2000, the Central Bureau of Statistics, announced that it will conduct a survey on households nation-wide, in association with UNICEF, the Ministries of Social Affairs, Labor, Health, Education, and Justice to research on children's living standards, health conditions and education. The objective is to collect data about children's mortality rate, health standards, education, nutrition and water sanitation. A preliminary report will be completed by January 2001.


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  1. Governmental bodies

The two major governmental bodies involved in children's issues are the following:

  1. The Parliamentary Committee for Children's Rights
  2. Established in 1991, this committee aims at developing necessary legislation for the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Its mandate consists of formulating and amending laws in order to bring them in conformity with the provisions of the CRC. Headed by a member of the Parliament, this committee coordinates its work with relevant ministries, governmental departments, and the private sector.

  3. Higher Council of the Child

Formed in 1994 by the Council of Ministers, this body gathers government and NGO representatives. It strives to follow up the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. It also serves as an independent intermediary body between relevant government ministries and with non-governmental organizations to initiate and coordinate programs and policies.


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2. Lebanese Non-governmental Organizations

As for NGOs, they take on an important practical dimension. By taking initiatives in the "field" aimed at improving direct dealings with children, teachers and social players, these organizations identify the real needs of children vis-à-vis governmental and public bodies and thus promote and implement suitable action programmes. Unfortunately, since the end of the war, funding has decreased and NGOs are having a hard time setting up new projects.

The following is a list of the major NGOs working in the field to promote children's rights :

  • AFEL

  • Al Makassed

  • Armenian Relief Society
  • Association of the Lebanese Child

  • Caritas

  • Dar El Sadaka

  • Imam Al Sadr Foundations

  • Karageuzian Association
  • Lebanese Association for Human Rights (ALDHOM)
  • Lebanese Union for Child Welfare

  • Lebanese Union for the Protection of the Child

  • Mouvement Social
  • National Institute for Social and Vocational Training
  • Rassemblement des ONGs pour les droits de l'enfant
  • René Moawad Foundation
  • SOS Villages
  • Terre des hommes

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III- Definition of the Child (art. 1)

There are no legal definitions of the child in Lebanese legislation. With the exception of the Constitution and electoral laws which explicitly set the minimum age to vote at twenty one years, Lebanese civil, penal and confessional laws give an implicit definition of the “child” as a human being below the age of eighteen years. According to article 215 of the code of obligations and contracts, a person has the right to sign contracts and conduct property transactions once he/she reaches eighteen years of age. The penal code also stipulates that by the age of eighteen, a child shall be transferred to an adult prison. Consequently, it can be implied that, in Lebanese law, the age of majority is set at eighteen.

The status of unborn children is even harder to determine. Because there are no general provisions regarding the definition of the child, reference should be made to specific provisions in the Lebanese law that address the question of the status of the foetus. The penal code has made provision, in articles 541 to 545, for severe sanctions for all abortion cases that are not essential to save the mother’s life. This means that, according to the law, an unborn child has a right to life and therefore is considered as a human being. This is also the viewpoint of personal status laws especially with regard to inheritance: if a child is born alive, he/she has the right to inherit from the moment of conception.

Table on the minimum legal age as defined by national legislation

 

Subjects

Minimum legal age

Legal and medical counselling without parents' consent

18 years old

Medical treatment or surgery without parental consent

18 years old

End of compulsory education

12 years old

Admission to employment or work (hazardous work, part-time and full-time work)

13 years old

Marriage without parents' consent

18 years old

Criminal responsibility

Sentences: Protection measures and community service

7-11 years old

Sentences: Protection measures, community services and rehabilitation or disciplinary measures

12-14 years old

Sentences: Prison sentence, separated from adults

15-17 years old

Capital punishment

18 years old

Giving testimony in court, in civil and criminal cases

No specific age. Subject to a judge's discretion

Lodging complaints and seeking redress before a court or other relevant authority without parental consent

18 years old, unless a judge grants him full capacity. In which case he can practice all the rights inherent to adulthood.

Giving consent to change identity, including change of name, modification, of family relations, adoption, guardianship

 

18 years old

Legal capacity to inherit

Since conception, if the child is born alive at birth.

Legal capacity to conduct property transactions

18 years old, unless a judge grants him full capacity to conduct property transactions

Choosing a religion or attending religious school teaching

18 years old

Consumption of alcohol and other controlled substances

18 years old


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IV- CIVIL AND POLITICAL RIGHTS

  1. Child's right to a name and legal identity (arts. 7, 8)
  2. In Lebanon, many conditions apply for a child to acquire a name and an identity. Without identity cards the children do not have legal names, nor can they receive medical care, social benefits from the government or even enrol in schools.

    When a legitimate child isborn, his/her parents choose a name, and he/she takes the father's last name; his/her legal paper should also mention the father's first name and the mother's first and family name. The birth of a child should be declared within 30 days of the actual event. The birth is confirmed by a birth certificate issued by the general directorate of personal status. By this time, the child should be registered at the personal status registration office. The content of registered documents is final and can only be modified with a court order

    In cases where a child is born out of wedlock, the mother that acknowledges him/her is responsible of giving him/her name and he/she ends up having his mother's last name. Whereas, if the father acknowledges the child, then the father's last name is registered on the child's identity papers. A mother can also (according to article 15 of the document of the personal status law published in 7/12/1951 and modified by law no 93/ 203) to let an institution name her child so as to save her honour.

    As for the abandoned child, the person who finds him/her has the responsibility to hand him/her over to the mayor of the district who, in turn, will entrust the child to the care of a specialized association. Abandoned children are usually given identity cards with a borrowed father's name. The mother's name is left blank.

    While "illegitimate status" is no longer recorded on an identity card, children of unknown parents or children born out of wedlock are still registered as such at the Directorate of Civil Registration. Hence, all children do not have an equal status before the law and measures should be taken to eliminate the "illegitimate status" label from all official documents.


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  3. A child's right to nationality (art. 7)

According to decree no 15, dated 19/01/1952 concerning Lebanese nationality, a child is granted Lebanese nationality when:

  • A child is born to a Lebanese father, even if the latter is not currently on Lebanese soil.
  • A child is born on Lebanese territory, and he/she has not acquired a foreign nationality.
  • A child is born on Lebanese territory, and he/she is declared orphan.
  • A child is born on Lebanese territory and is not acknowledged by his/her mother or father
  • A child is born on Lebanese territory to parents who do not have a nationality.

  • A child is born out of wedlock on Lebanese territory

The provisions of the Lebanese law concerning nationality are in clear violation with the principles of non-discrimination and the child' right to nationality, especially with regards to children born to a Lebanese mother and a foreign father as well as orphans and abandoned children. Even the new bill, currently before Parliament, regarding the right to nationality, remains discriminatory since it continues to refuse nationality to children born to Lebanese mothers and foreign fathers.

As for orphans and abandoned children, assuring their right to nationality while applying the provisions of the law becomes a difficult task. This issue was raised particularly in January 2000 when 12 children, at a Lebanese orphanage were refused identity cards. The children, ranging in age from six months to four years, did not have legal status because they were abandoned by their parents at different times over the preceding two years. According to official authorities, because not all abandoned children fill the requirements to be granted citizenship, court order should be issued (pursuant to a 1951 law governing the issuance of identity cards) to register a child who is over 1 year old. However, some of these children were under 1 year old and still were not registered by the authorities. The ordeal was finally resolved when the Prime Minister, Selim Hoss presented the children with Lebanese citizenship. This shows that a child's right to nationality faces serious administrative and legal discrepancies that should be reviewed by the Lebanese government.


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V- Basic Health and welfare

  1. Disabled children (art. 23)

Estimates of disabled persons vary from 30 000 to 150 000, depending on definition and the accuracy of data. Despite the difficulty to determine the overall size of the disabled population in the Country, its characteristics are nevertheless apparent. The high proportion of physical disability can be mainly explained by the Civil war and various types of accidents. Mental disability is often related to marriages among close relatives. Moreover, many hospitals are still not sufficiently equipped with reanimation services and incubators for prematures which have greatly contributed to prevent some disabilities.

On the legal front, there are no specific laws concerning disabled children. However, new legislation regarding the rights of all disabled persons was adopted by Parliament. Law no 1834 (dated 3/12/99) ensures the right to benefit from medical services, rehabilitation as well as technical aids, all covered by the Ministry of Health (article 27 of the above mentioned law). In case of medical intervention, the decision is left to the parents. Nonetheless, if his/her capacity enables him/her to understand adequately the child should be informed of the nature of the medical act, its objectives and the procedures involved.

Law no 1834 guarantees also the right to education (in regular and/or in special classes). Unfortunately, the provisions of the law are not implemented. Mentally or physically disabled children are not always accepted in regular private or public educational institutions. Even the premises of the schools are not adapted to welcome disabled children.

The Government has taken initiatives by establishing guidance and orientation programs but there has been little coordination and a lack of communication between the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Social Affairs. Both ministries have carried out identical programs of guidance and orientation which has resulted in waste of time and funds.

To date, any measures or initiatives to promote the exchange of appropriate information, to organize training sessions, or to set up special institutions are essentially undertaken by non-governmental organizations, such as SESOBEL, ARC-EN CIEL, FISTA and IRAP.

To help implement the existing laws, the Government should create special monitoring bodies to efficiently introduce the needed adjustments and encourage the development of new programs.


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B. Health and health services (art.24)

1. Infant mortality

Infant mortality rate is very low in Lebanon. Placed within the range of the developed countries with respect to mortality rates, these have dropped, according to the Government, from 35 deaths per 1000 live births in 1990 to 28 deaths per 1000 in 1999.

The positive data regarding maternal and child health at the national level covers up, nonetheless, persisting gaps between regions. For example, infant mortality is much higher in North Lebanon than in Beirut. This can be explained by deficiencies with respect to the accessibility and the availability of specialized health care services and preventive programmes as well as basic services in remote rural areas.

The Ministry of Health has launched a national programme to combat infant mortality in October 1999. The new Government-UN programme will conduct a scientific study providing the necessary data to form a national health policy covering childbirth and pre and postnatal care.

2. Healthcare system

More than 60 % of the population is not covered by medical insurance. The present health care system relies heavily on private hospitals high on cost of care per individual. The heavy burden on the Government's budget has brought respective public authorities to devise a national strategy for primary health care. The Government has initiated a programme to rehabilitate and strengthen the public health institutions.


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3.Prenatal health

The Government provides appropriate health care services that will enable women to go safely through pregnancy and childbirth . These services are provided through medical clinics and social development centres overseen, respectively, by the Ministry of Public Health and the Ministry of Social Affairs. A numbof non-governmental organizations are also active in this field.

Lebanese women are aware of prenatal care and most have had at least one pregnancy-related consultation. There are, of course, disparities between regions, rural areas having the least ratio of prenatal care.


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4. Natal and postnatal health

Natal care is provided generally within hospitals where most of the deliveries take place. Postnatal care is less emphasized and varies according to the mother's education. The highest proportion in postnatal care is provided, mainly, in Beirut.

The following table represents the proportion of women who have access and benefit from prenatal, natal and postnatal care. The figures stated hereafter are the results form the Lebanon Maternal and Child Health Survey (Lebanon:PAPCHILD 1996) The survey was conducted for the 1991-1996 period (5 years).

 

Nature of care

Percentage

Prenatal care

89%

Natal care

93%

Postnatal care

34%

Attending personnel at delivery

Physicians

74 %

Midwives

17%


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5. HIV and AIDS

According to statistics conducted by the National Council for Combating AIDS, of the reported 530 cases of HIV/AIDS 8 % were between 10 and 20 years of age (by June 1998). Many of the HIV-positive persons are immigrants from Africa. A national programme for combating AIDS was put into place by the Government. According to this programme, the degree of awareness among adolescents is very high. Many indicate that part of their knowledge comes from courses taken in school. Young persons outside schools also have a knowledge about the disease but there is, among this group, more erroneous information about the transmission of the disease.


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C. Social security (art.26)

In a recent case, entitled Assaf vs the National Social Security Fund, the Supreme Court (Cour de Cassation) ruled against the NSSF for discrimination against women in the field of employment; it consequently allocated social benefits to the children of the plaintiff (their mother) .

Nevertheless, amendments are required to several National Social Security Fund laws. This is particularly true for provisions specifying the conditions applied to dependants of NSSF beneficiaries. The implementation of these laws has brought a series of objections from beneficiaries and their dependants, because of its difficulty and unfairness. Finally, in January 2001, amendments were brought to the National Social Security fund laws allowing children the right to receive benefits if their mother is registered with the NSSF and their father (her husband) is unable to provide for them.


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VI- Education (arts. 27, 28)

The rate of education is relatively high in Lebanon despite the significant difference between elementary and secondary levels. The number of students has reached more than 800 000, distributed in more than 2000 schools. This has resulted in the decrease of illiteracy of persons in the range of 15 to 19 years, to less than 4%. Of course, the percentage of illiteracy is higher in rural than in urban areas as teachers are unwilling to live in rural areas. In fact, if illiteracy is 13.6% nation-wide, it reaches its maximum in the North of the Country (Akkar) with 30, 5 %.

Since 1998 and according to decree no 686, education is compulsory until the age of 12. Measures are under study to raise the minimum age for education to 15 years old. Due mainly to administrative and legal delays, this decree is not yet applicable as the necessary measures have not been taken by the government to ensure its full implementation. Public schools are available but cannot accept more than 30% of the total number of students, and private or semi-private schools already contain more than 70%. In addition, to have access to public schools, students should cover about 421 000 LL. of the costs per year. Hence, education is not completely free and the expenses represent 13 % of the total family budget. Some poor families are unable to even cover these minimal fees. Greater effort should be expended on improving the quality of education in the public sector so as to reduce the education bill for households.

Cost is not the only obstacle to education. Accessibility to schools represents also a problem. Public schools are not properly distributed throughout the Lebanese territory and public transportation does not cover all areas. Moreover, according to the 1997 National Report on Child Labour in Lebanon, children who start their education in a public school are admitted to first elementary, at the age of six years. At that stage, they are expected to know how to read and write the alphabet. The families with illiterate parents cannot prepare their children for school. These face a strong disadvantage from the outset, a factor that influences their future performance and increases their chance of dropping out of the system. Fortunately, gender equality in education seems to be ensured, the number of girls in school being equal to or slightly higher than boys. However, according to official figures, the percentage of girls in relation to boys is higher in public schools while the contrary applies to private schools. Discrimination is also more apparent in remote areas.

As for vocational training schools, most of them are private. The geographical distribution of vocational and technical schools is centred around Beirut and its suburbs. The total number of public vocational and technical schools amount to more than 30 with total enrolment of more than 9000 students. Furthermore, the total number of private technical schools amount to 245 with a total enrolment of 35000 students.


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VII- Special protection measures

  1. Children in conflict with the law (arts. 37, 39, 40)

In Lebanon, juvenile offenders are oppressed rather than rehabilitated and there is insufficient co-ordination among various sectors of society involved with the administration of juvenile justice. According to an extensive study conducted in 1998 by the Center of International Crime Prevention, laws concerning young offenders are in direct contravention with the standards set by the CRC and other international texts concerning juvenile justice.

By July 2000, more than 368 minors of less than 18 years of age were detained in Lebanon and conditions of arrest and detention violate the basic human rights principles. When a minor is under arrest, the chief of police alerts within 24 hours a social assistant from the UPEL organization so that she/he can attend the interrogation. Questioning is conducted by an investigating judge who then decides whether there are enough elements to send the case to trial. It should be noted that the minor is held in police custody until questioning, which is often delayed (sometimes up to a month), without contacting his/her parents or even a lawyer. Police officers have not been trained to handle young offenders and abusive behavior has been reported. According to the testimony of some young offenders, arrested minors are subject to cruel and inhuman treatment by police that can last from a few hours to a few days. Recently, a special UN-trained police force has been created to question juveniles in a "humane manner", where they are not beaten, are allowed to sit down, and can consult a social worker. However, this initiative is insufficient. To prevent such cases of injustice, judges, attorneys, and police should undergo special training on the treatment of minors in the judicial system, and a curriculum should be introduced into judges' training. In this respect, NGOs have also an essential role in the training of personnel involved in the administration of juvenile justice.

There are 3 establishments where male minors are sent for detention or to purge their sentence: the Fanar and Baasir rehabilitation centers for minors less the 15 years of age and the special young offenders unit at the the Roumieh prison. As for girls, with the exception of those at the "Centre for Bon Pasteur de Sharlé", they share cells with adult women in the prisons of Baabda and Beyrouth, institutions that are not suitable to accommodate them.

The Fanar and Baasir establishments are for minors less than 15 years old. Authorhave admitted that these rehabilitation centres were not able to accommodate more than their capacity. In July 2000, 58 minors were detained in the Baasir center and 29 at the Fanar center. These centers are under the supervision of non-governmental organizations, thus the treatment of minors is more human. Children in these institutions benefit from recreational and educational programs as well as vocational and professional training courses.

Since 1994, a special unit was created in the Roumieh prison for minors 15 years to 21. It can contain up to 150 minors. However, because of administrative delays, young offenders are detained for longer periods of time than normal and the unit often exceeds its capacity. In fact, it sometimes reaches 200 % of its maximum capacity. Overpopulation, lack of space and not enough blankets to sleep on are some of the bad conditions that young offenders have to endure. Most importantly, the special wing is not completely separate from the adult quarters. Both adults and minors use the same sanitary facilities and adult prisoners are assigned to supervise young offenders during nighttime. These living conditions are inadmissible as they often lead to physical exploitation and homosexual prostitution of minors, a reality considered "inevitable" by prison authorities. In addition, according to some minors, new combers (especially younger ones) are subject to an initiation ritual by their peers (such as having their clothes taken off, sexual harassment, assault, rape etc.). There are no trained personnel to look after the physical and psychological well-being of these juveniles, especially considering the working staff 's monthly salary of about 380 000 LL.

Rehabilitation programs are insufficient to reeducate and re-socialize all young offenders. With a 19 percent illiteracy rate and only 35 percent of the juveniles having reached elementary school level, reintegration and reeducation is crucial. Cooperation with NGOs working on juvenile delinquency has already been taking place over the past eight years. NGOs such as Mouvement social, Terre des Hommes, Offre-joie and Phoenix-Netherlands) do organize cultural activities and professional training courses in the Roumieh prison, but only a limited number of minors have access to these activities.

Legislative reform with regards to the administration of juvenile justice is on hold. A draft law (no 119/83), already approved by the Justice Ministry and the government and currently being deliberated by Parliament, attempts to increase protection for minors. Existing Decree–law 119 applies to street children, beggars, youngsters in danger of delinquency as well as all minors aged 7 to 18 years who have been accused of breaching and violating the law (see table 2). It regulates the administration of special courts, the judicial path of a young offender's file and the system of depriving liberty. It also provision for legal and social measures for taken for minors (see table 3)

Administration of special courts

There are 6 special courts (one in each district) before which a young offender is put on trial. It follows the same procedures as regular court except for the following special measures:

  • proceedings are held in camera

  • Juvenile offenders can be excused of attending the trial

  • Intervention of the UPEL representative is mandatory before the trial so as to give a report following a social investigation on the situation of the minor in question. The report should state information relating to the financial situation of the child, social and family background, school education, and work as well as physical and mental health. It should also suggest the appropriate measures to be taken in view of the above-mentioned factors.

Legal and social measures

These measures are applied according to a minor's age and the crime or misdemeanor committed. If a child is less than 12, he/she will be sentenced to protection or probation measures. Measures of probation, reeducation and even protection are generally taken when a child is between the age of 12-18. A minor over the age of 15 can be sentenced to prison from 5 to 15 years, if he/she has committed a crime that calls for death penalty. Once a child reaches 18 years of age he has to complete his sentence in an adult prison.

  • Protection measures: entrusting children to their parents or tutors if the latter are judged capable to ensure their education, according to the UPEL social assistant. If parents do not have the capacity to take care of the child, the child is sent to a foster home or an institution designated by the Court.

  • Probation measures : putting the Child under UPEL’s supervision

  • Reeducation measures : putting the minor in Center for reeducation or correction.

 

Mohafazat

Postponed cases from preceding years

Number of offenders involved

Actions taken in 1999

Number of offenders involved

Total number of actions

Total number of offenders involved

Male

Female

Beirut

268

390

410

497

678

887

838

49

Mount Lebanon

723

1011

436

552

1159

1563

1489

74

Tripoli

160

195

351

433

511

628

613

15

Zahleh

140

178

206

245

346

423

413

10

Saida

151

212

291

374

442

586

565

21

Nabatiyeh

45

55

102

128

147

183

177

6

 

Table 1: Number of cases involving juvenile offenders

(UPEL statistics 1999)

Table 2: number of juvenile offenders according to the nature of the crime and misdemeanor

(UPEL statistics 1999)

 

 

Beirut

Mount Lebanon

Tripoli

Zahleh

Saida

Nabatiyeh

Grand robbery

 

172

340

69

32

62

8

Robbery and attempted robbery

69

227

106

43

69

16

Homicide and escape from prison

16

-

14

9

9

1

Attempted murder/accomplice to murder

5

63

1

6

3

2

Prostitution/rape/ attempted rape

7

38

6

3

1

-

Involuntary homicide/ Assault and battery

8

17

46

18

14

13

Trafficking of illicit substances/ use of illicit substances

6

24

1

1

1

-

Counterfeiting and distribution of counterfeit money

21

55

6

10

14

2

Use of false identity card/ breaking and entering /occupation

5

5

15

4

4

-

Drinking and use of illicit substance

3

-

-

-

1

1

Protection of minors in danger

4

14

3

4

2

-

Harm/Slander/threat/assault

52

148

90

66

73

21

Arson /causing arson or destruction

1

-

-

4

11

3

Damaging of agricultural fields/ vandalism against public property /breaches and violations/ not holding any identity papers/disturbance of peace

211

79

90

40

69

38

Illegal entry to the country

25

51

31

15

30

1

Setting up militia checkpoints/violation of internal security/collaboration with Israel

4

5

1

10

10

18

Use of bombs

 

1

-

-

-

1

2

Objecting a judicial decision

22

1

-

2

13

-

Begging

21

5

-

-

2

-

Weapons

7

40

16

49

25

19

Substitution of a judicial decision

-

-

-

1

-

-

Extradition

-

1

-

-

-

-

Kidnapping/armed robbery

-

11

3

3

4

-

Total

660

1124

498

320

442

147

 

Table 2: number of juvenile offenders according to the nature of the crime and misdemeanor

 

Table 3: Social and Legal Measures

(UPEL statistics 1999)

 

 

Beirut

Mount Lebanon

Tripoli

Zahleh

Saida

Nabatieh

Keeping the minor in his family environment

7

1

8

13

8

10

Keeping the minor under parental custody with supervision

73

10

11

-

11

12

Keeping the minor in an institution

2

-

1

-

1

-

Keeping the minor in a rehabilitation facility

17

12

8

-

37

-

Keeping the minor in a disciplinary facility (currently penitentiary facility)

1

19

1

-

-

-

Verdict of innocence/ sentence exemption

23

32

24

7

60

18

Fine/absence of jurisdiction/replacing a jail sentence with a fine/returning the file to the public prosecution

147

27

74

67

112

25

Detention and extradition

76

32

-

-

7

-

Expiration of statutes of limitation

81

34

29

13

34

2

Alternative measures to imprisonment

1

-

8

-

-

-

Imprisonment of the minor

54

131

47

12

57

18

Total

445

335

295

119

348

77

 

Table 3: Social and Legal Measures

(UPEL statistics 1999)

 

 

District

(Mohafazat)

Lebanese

Syrian

Palestinian

Egyptian

Jordanian

Iraki

confidential

Under study

Indian

Algerian

unknown

Turk

Total

Beirut

514

714

66

9

1

4

30

33

1

3

1

11

887

Mount Lebanon (sentenced only

177

124

21

1

-

-

3

9

-

-

-

-

335

Tripoli

509

79

25

5

-

2

7

1

-

-

-

-

628

Zahleh

395

22

4

-

-

-

2

-

-

-

-

-

423

Saida

355

52

148

14

1

2

4

10

-

-

-

-

 

Nabatieh

178

4

1

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

 

-

183

Table 4: Nationality of young offenders

(UPEL statistics 1999)

 


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