record of the 290th meeting : Lebanon. 17/06/96. CRC/C/SR.290.
UNITED NATIONS Convention on the Rights of the Child
Please 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/SR.290 17
COMMITTEE ON THE
RIGHTS OF THE CHILD
SUMMARY RECORD OF THE
Held at the Palais des Nations, Geneva,
Tuesday, 21 May 1996, at 10 a.m.
This record is
subject to correction.
Corrections should be submitted
in one of the working languages. They should be set forth in a
memorandum and also incorporated in a copy of the record. They
should be sent within one week of the date of this document
to the Official Records Editing Section, room E.4108, Palais des
Any corrections to the records of the
meetings of the Committee at this session will be consolidated in
a single corrigendum, to be issued shortly after the end of the
was called to order at 10.05 a.m.
REPORTS OF STATES PARTIES (agenda item 4) (continued)
report of Lebanon (continued) (CRC/C/8/Add.23; CRC/C.11/WP.7;
1. At the invitation of
the Chairperson, the delegation of Lebanon took places at the
2. Mr. KHALIL
(Lebanon) summarized the replies he had given to questions 11 to
14 of the list of issues (CRC/C.11/WP.7). With regard to question
11, the Constitution made no distinction whatsoever among citizens
on the grounds of sex, religion, beliefs or geographical origin.
Children with HIV/AIDS did not suffer from any discrimination
because social programmes, which were aimed at achieving social
integration, made no distinction among the various groups in need
of special education. Concerning the detailed statistics that had
been requested, each specialized national committee was
endeavouring to prepare the statistics required in its field of
competence. For example, Act No. 243 of 1993 dealt with two
categories of the disabled, the physically disabled and the
mentally disabled, and the National Committee for the Disabled had
given the persons concerned cards granting them access to various
services and had prepared statistics on their numbers. The
committee in charge of the national programme to combat AIDS was
preparing statistics on cases of AIDS.
Regarding question 12, all children in Lebanon were fully subject
to Lebanese law. Non-Lebanese, Palestinians and others, benefited
from the general provisions guaranteeing security, freedom and
equality - in short, all human rights - in the same manner as
Lebanese citizens. Non-governmental and international
organizations were taking care of non-Lebanese children.
Question 13 dealt with "the best interests of the child"
and the juvenile courts. It should first of all be stressed that
the interests of the child were very diverse, and that one could
not speak of any single best interest of the child. That did not
mean, however, that the child's interests did not have to be
respected in every instance. The procedures governing juvenile
justice were set forth in Decree No. 119/1983, on the protection
of young people and children. A child could, for example, be
excused from attending his own trial in order to preserve his
mental balance and future prospects.
14 concerned the need to respect the views of the child and to
raise awareness of families and the public of that need. Freedom
of opinion was guaranteed by article 13 of the Constitution as
long as it did not endanger public order. The work to be
undertaken with the public was the responsibility of the
Department of Family Affairs, which had been set up within the
Ministry of Social Affairs. There were also centres for community
social development services, which had been created as a part of
the Ministry of Social Affairs and which, along with
non-governmental organizations (NGOs), were making it possible to
reach out to the areas most in need of assistance. Furthermore, a
social planning programme, organized in cooperation with the
United Nations, among others, sought to help children within the
family. Lastly, a social welfare service, also a part of the
Ministry of Social Affairs, was concerned with the treatment,
protection and care of orphans and children in difficult
6. Mr. KOLOSOVsaid
that he would like to know more about the programmes for children
who had endured the traumas of 16 years of conflict. How were the
staff employed in those programmes recruited, how were they
trained, and what was the role of international cooperation in
7. Miss MASON,
drawing attention to the wording of article 2 of the Convention,
said that she found the Lebanese Constitution quite restrictive,
in that it prohibited only discrimination based on sex, language,
religion, age and colour. Furthermore, article 2 applied to all
children, including those born out of wedlock; yet it was clear
from the report and other documents that such children might be
treated as second-class citizens. Even if the word "illegitimate"
no longer appeared on birth certificates, it was still used in
other official documents, and she would like to know what
consequences that might have for the child. Likewise, did not a
child born of a Lebanese mother and a non-Lebanese father suffer
from discrimination, owing to the fact that only the father could
pass on his nationality to the child? Could a child born of such a
union exercise his civil rights, find a job and have access to
social services? Could a child who lost his non-Lebanese father
and who could not acquire Lebanese nationality from his mother
enjoy all his fundamental rights? Lastly, paragraph 26 of the
report might lead the reader to wonder whether the persons covered
by subparagraph (b) were not victims of discrimination.
Mrs. KARP asked whether the difference between the
services provided to urban and rural areas was not a latent source
of discrimination, reflected in the infant and pre-natal mortality
rates. Was the high mortality rate of infants born of mothers who
were too young, and the high perinatal mortality rate among those
young women, not the consequence of discrimination and of a
certain contempt for the right to life and survival?
Mrs. EUFEMIO recalled that the Lebanese delegation
had spoken at the previous meeting about disputes concerning child
custody and had stated that the views of the child were not taken
into account. She asked how those views were sought before the
proceedings. While the Constitution protected freedom of
expression and opinion, within the family the child did not enjoy
such freedom and it was the tradition for decisions concerning the
child to be taken without him, by the family hierarchy. As the
family was a private sphere, such a situation could go unnoticed
and, unless there were legal grounds for having resort to the
courts, the non-enjoyment of that right was not made known. She
wished to know whether the Government considered that it could
intervene in family matters and, if so, how it proceeded.
Mrs. KARP pointed out that the Convention
protected the right to life, survival and development. To her
mind, the law on abortion, which was very strict, did not respect
that right in cases where, for example, an unborn child risked
being deformed or where pregnancy threatened the mother's health
or life. She asked what procedures allowed for abortion in such
11. Mr. KHALIL (Lebanon),
replying to the question on the reintegration of children who were
victims of the war, said that those who had suffered physically
were taken care of by the National Committee for the Disabled;
those who had lost their homes, by the newly-established Ministry
for Displaced Persons; and those who had psychological problems,
by social, educational and recreational services which should
enable them eventually to overcome the adverse effects of war.
case of children born out of wedlock was not covered by the law,
but that did not make them an inferior category of person.
However, a law was under consideration which should allow the word
"illegitimate" to be deleted from any official document,
upon request to the judicial authority. Regarding children born of
Lebanese mothers and non-Lebanese fathers, who automatically
acquired the nationality of their father, Parliament was currently
discussing a bill that would, in the case of divorce or of the
father's death, authorize the mother to pass her nationality on to
the child. All the same, there were many countries where only the
father could pass his nationality on to the child. Referring to
paragraph 26 of the report, on the means of acquiring Lebanese
nationality, he said that any child living on Lebanese soil could
have Lebanese nationality.
13. Turning to the
question of the differences between rural and urban areas, he said
that, because of the small size of Lebanon, rural areas were not
really isolated from the rest of the country.
question of marriageable age did arise, but Lebanon was
endeavouring to resolve that issue by increasing awareness and
training religious leaders in preparing young people for marriage.
Child custody was already provided for by the law. If the question
of custody was decided by the court, that was because children
under the age of 18 did not have a decision-making capacity. It
was an exaggeration to say that children belonged to their
parents, but the family certainly had a very important role to
play in Lebanon; for example, all the social programmes were based
on the family. The Government relied on the family, but the law
did not provide for intervention in private family matters, for
example, to prevent domestic violence. In that connection,
however, a bill was under consideration.
spoke so often of bills and not laws because during the war
Lebanon had been too concerned with survival to think about
legislation. Parliamentary activity was currently picking up, and
the Committee would be informed of any new laws promulgated.
With regard to abortion, the authors of such acts and their
accomplices were subject to penalties under articles 539-545 of
the Penal Code, as described in paragraph 18 of the report. There
were, however, plans to make some changes to those articles, at
the request of various associations.
KARP said that to recognize the right to freedom of
association only for persons aged over 21 seemed contrary to
article 15 of the Convention. She would also like to know whether
a woman risked death if she infringed the traditional rules of
morality in force in Muslim countries.
MASON welcomed the efforts made by the Higher Council for
Childhood to improve the situation of children born out of
wedlock. However, she wished to have more details on the concrete
measures being taken to ensure that so-called "illegitimate"
children were not treated as second-class citizens, particularly
in terms of access to social and cultural services. Concerning the
right to freedom of association, children should be able to
exercise that right before their majority in order to be better
prepared for their adult lives.
20. Mrs. EUFEMIO
said that parents and teachers should prepare children for
adulthood by giving them the opportunity to express their opinions
and to exercise the rights recognized for them under the
Convention. In that regard, she would like to know what punishment
might be given to a child guilty of disobedience.
Mr. KHALIL (Lebanon) said that, in order to offset the
concentration of services in Beirut, the Government was
instituting a policy of administrative decentralization.
Regarding civil and political rights, the question of lowering the
voting age - currently 21 years - was being considered.
As far as women being put to death for immoral behaviour was
concerned, it should be stressed that that practice was not
current in Lebanon and anyone who violated another person's
physical integrity was subject to the penalties provided by law.
Children born out of wedlock were not considered as second-class
citizens, and a birth certificate was issued in all instances. A
child born out of wedlock carried the name of whichever parent had
recognized him. If neither parent did so, the mayor had the
authority to give the child a name and place him in the care of a
25. The right to freedom
of association, the lowering of the voting age, and the child's
right to choose which parent he wished to live with in the case of
divorce, were all issues currently under consideration.
The CHAIRPERSON invited the delegation of Lebanon to
reply to questions 15 to 19 of the list of issues, concerning
civil rights and freedoms.
27. Mr. KHALIL
(Lebanon), replying to question 15, said that every child must be
registered within 30 days of birth. Anyone finding an abandoned
child was required to turn it over to the mayor. The mayor would
issue a birth certificate and entrust the child to a specialized
institution, which would look after its welfare.
Concerning question 16, to which the delegation had already for
the most part replied, a foreigner who married a Lebanese woman
could, after having resided in Lebanon for a certain amount of
time, acquire Lebanese nationality, which he could then pass on to
29. As to question 17, on the
implementation of article 17 of the Convention, the Ministry of
Information had taken steps so that in the near future, children
could have free books, as had been the case before the war. Many
television programmes were targeted to children and there was a
children's theatre, which had an excellent reputation.
Regarding question 18, corporal punishment was prohibited in
schools and other institutions for children, and parents whose
children had been the victims of such practices could lodge
complaints with the competent courts.
Parliament was currently considering a bill aimed at combating
violence in the family. In that regard, school directors could now
take cases to court if they found that a student bore clear traces
of beatings. As to ill-treatment of children in detention centres,
the delegation unfortunately did not have statistics on the
32. Mr. HAMMARBERG said that he
would like some information on the concrete difficulties with
which the Lebanese authorities were confronted in registering
births, particularly in so far as the very large numbers of
displaced persons were concerned. A child born of a Lebanese
mother should automatically acquire Lebanese nationality, even if
the father was a foreigner. He would also like to know what
measures were being taken to protect children against some of the
pernicious influences of the information media, to encourage
children to read and to develop recreational activities for
children. In that regard, he was pleased with the success of the
children's theatre mentioned by the delegation.
He also duly noted that a bill aimed at combating violence in the
family was under consideration by Parliament; however, information
campaigns should also be organized for teachers to combat violence
in the schools. It was difficult for children to lodge complaints
against adults, whether they were their parents or teachers. The
law should be backed up by social measures and awareness-raising
on that issue as well. He also wondered whether in Lebanon there
were any reported cases of persons performing official functions
who had been punished for ill-treatment of children.
Miss MASON observed that the report did not contain
information on the implementation of article 17 of the Convention.
She would like to know whether the Convention was publicized in
the media and whether there were awareness-raising programmes for
combating violence in the family. She had information to the
effect that all radio and television broadcasts in Lebanon were
subject to control by the authorities, which might, on occasion,
prohibit them. She would be grateful to the delegation for
clarification on that point.
35. Mrs. KARP
asked what the attitude of the public was towards violence against
children in the family. Were children complaining of ill-treatment
listened to by the police and were there specific procedures to
help them express themselves without fear in court? She would
welcome examples of cases of violence in the family that had been
brought before the courts.
36. Mr. KOLOSOV
, recalling that the delegation had stated that the Government was
planning to lower the age of majority in order better to protect
the civil and political rights of the child, pointed out that the
Convention established civil rights and freedoms for all children
under 18 years of age. In paragraph 15, on civil rights and
freedoms, of its general guidelines regarding the form and content
of initial reports (CRC/C/5), the Committee requested States
parties to provide relevant information on steps taken to
implement the Convention, including legislative, judicial,
administrative or other measures, and it was therefore regrettable
that reference had been made in the report only to the right of
the child to a name and nationality, preservation of identity and
protection from ill-treatment. There were no specific details in
the report on freedom of expression or access to information. He
would therefore like information on those matters.
Mrs. EUFEMIO, referring to children's access to
information and steps taken to protect them against images of
violence such as were to be found in the media, asked whether
account was taken of computerized media through which information
harmful to children could be transmitted. Also, was there any
control over toys that encouraged violence?
CHAIRPERSON proposed that the meeting be suspended in
order to allow the delegation to prepare its replies to the
questions put by Committee members.
was suspended at 11.35 a.m. and resumed at 11.55 a.m.
Mr. KHALIL (Lebanon) said that all children of
displaced persons had been registered at birth by means of a
40. With regard to violence
in the media, there was almost no violence in the films produced
in Lebanon, but that was unfortunately not the case of films
coming from abroad. He recognized that there were not enough
gardens or recreational areas for children in Lebanon. Concerning
violence in schools, three cases of teachers beating children had
been reported during the current year. The teachers had been
dismissed and heavy penalties imposed on them.
With regard to the media, the authorities exercised no control
over them and they were free to express themselves. Concerning the
possibility of children lodging complaints when they were victims
of violence, a speedy mechanism should, admittedly, be set up to
which children could resort. Such a mechanism was provided for in
the bill on violence in the family.
the age of majority and children's civil and political rights,
there were two types of rights: those enjoyed and those exercised.
Enjoyment of rights was guaranteed to all children, from the
moment of conception; but the exercise of rights implied that the
child should have reached a certain degree of maturity. Concerning
religion, article 10 of the Constitution recognized freedom of
belief and worship, as long as that freedom did not conflict with
public order or morals.
43. On the subject of
children's access to information technology, 70 per cent of the
private schools had set up computer courses and some were using
audiovisual teaching methods. Lebanon did not make toys and all
such articles were imported. However, the authorities were aware
of the harm done to children by toys that encouraged violence.
44. Mr. KOLOSOV asked whether the
Convention was studied as a part of school curricula.
Mr. HAMMARBERG , referring to the question of violence
in the family and in schools, asked whether Lebanon had a
comprehensive plan of action against violence including
legislative and social measures, as well as information campaigns.
The CHAIRPERSON invited the delegation of Lebanon to
answer the latter two questions and then to turn to questions
20-23 of the list of issues.
47. Mr. KHALIL
(Lebanon) said that he would answer Mr. Kolosov's question on the
study of the Convention when the issues relating to education were
taken up. Concerning violence in the family, as he had already
indicated, a bill on that subject was under consideration by
Parliament; it called, in particular, for a mechanism that would
allow children to lodge complaints more easily.
The family was the very foundation of Lebanese society. Even when
children were separated from their families and placed in
rehabilitation centres, the families could visit them. No
instances of children ceasing to have any further contact with
their parents had been reported. The Lebanese authorities had no
statistics on cases of abuse of parental authority. Instances of
children being abandoned by their parents were very rare. Lebanese
society was a small community where people all knew each other,
and that made such abandonments impossible. Articles 501 and 502
of the Penal Code established that parents, and especially the
father, were responsible for their children's education and that,
if they could not provide for it, even for economic reasons, they
were punished. In reply to question 23, on whether the Government
had considered the possibility of providing family education and
counselling, the Ministry of Social Affairs, through its
Department of Family Affairs and its development centres, was
planning to provide assistance from social workers for those in
need. The aim of the bill on violence in the family was to protect
children better and to prevent all forms of abuse, cruelty and
neglect within the family.
49. Miss MASON
asked how parents who neglected their children were punished and
what action was taken to enforce the law. She also wished to know
whether the State helped children whose parents had died or were
50. Regarding sexual abuse, a taboo
subject usually passed over in silence, article 149 of the report
stated that "there is hardly a day that passes without the
news of abuse and exploitation in the media". She would
therefore like to know what steps were taken to help the victims
of such abuse and to implement article 39 of the Convention, which
required States parties to take all appropriate measures to
promote physical and psychological recovery and social
reintegration of a child victim of any form of neglect,
exploitation or abuse. Did Decree No. 119 of 1983 cover incest?
How were the child victims of incest protected and were they
allowed to testify against their fathers in a patriarchal society
like Lebanon? With regard to the crimes of honour often mentioned
in the media in Lebanon, what became of girls who were sexually
abused by their parents? Could they count on getting married when,
in accordance with tradition, they had to undergo prenuptial
examinations? Lastly, did the media broadcast programmes aimed at
changing popular attitudes in that regard.
HAMMARBERG said he agreed with those members of the
Committee who felt that legislation was not enough in itself and
should be accompanied by concrete measures, particularly in the
areas of social welfare, education and health. He would therefore
like to know, for example, what social measures were planned to
support the proposed law on family violence. Also, besides
sanctions against the father, what measures were envisaged to
protect the children of separated parents in the case of
non-payment of alimony? Lastly, he asked for more information on
street children and the background to that phenomenon.
Mrs. KARP asked about the fate of young prostitutes
and the validity of a report that there was a Lebanese law
protecting those who murdered prostitutes. She also wished to know
whether there were reintegration programmes for girls who engaged
53. Mrs. EUFEMIO said
she was surprised that the plan of action for the protection of
children, copies of which had been distributed to the Committee by
the Lebanese delegation on 20 May, contained no mention of steps
to protect the family unit and that there was a relatively high
proportion of consanguineous marriages. She would like more
information on possible changes in the family structure - for
example, on the situation of single-parent families - and the
impact on parental responsibility and social benefits. In that
respect as well, legislation was apparently not enough to change
54. Mrs. KARP asked whether it
was the judicial authorities or State bodies that took the
decision to remove a child from his family when the child was in
danger, and what remedies were available to each party.
Mr. KHALIL (Lebanon) said that the object of the
exercise was to give an accurate, unembellished picture of
reality. At the same time, it should be pointed out that laws, in
Lebanon as elsewhere, were needed to permit social projects to be
undertaken, if only in order to define institutional
responsibilities. Decree No. 119, which made it possible to excuse
a minor from attending a trial if that was in his best interest,
was implemented in 90 per cent of trials involving children.
were other projects, too, in the social area. Any child who could
not be taken care of by one of his divorced parents was placed in
a social institution. There was also an integrated recovery plan
for abandoned children, as well as a plan for combating child
labour; those plans would be made available to Committee members.
The problem of street children had both social and economic
dimensions. In the case of Lebanese children, a social worker made
inquiries in the family, and if the family was guilty of neglect,
sanctions were taken against the father. If the parents were
unable to care for their children, the children were placed in
social welfare institutions, in conformity with Decree No. 119. In
that connection the Ministry of Social Affairs was expected to
sign a contract with local communities in June 1996 to strengthen
58. There was no law in
Lebanon authorizing the murder of girls who engaged in
59. With regard to family
programmes aimed at complementing the national plan of action, a
draft was being considered by the Ministry of Social Affairs, and
another draft might be prepared jointly with the United Nations
Population Fund (UNFPA). It was not possible to take children away
from their families except to place them in a social welfare
60. The CHAIRPERSON said
that the documents cited by the delegation of Lebanon would be
distributed (in Arabic) to Committee members. She invited the
delegation to move on to questions 24-27 of the list of issues,
relating to basic health and welfare.
GEORGIADIS (Lebanon) said that, regarding progress
achieved in the field of child health, vaccination campaigns
against tetanus, organized in collaboration with the World Health
Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children's Fund
(UNICEF), had been well under way at the time of the Israeli
aggression, and infantile paralysis was expected to be totally
eradicated within a short time.
question 25, on the effectiveness of health information and
education programmes, the information service of the Ministry of
Social Affairs disseminated regular programmes, including on the
prevention of disability, which was also the subject of a bill.
Family planning services were provided in the community health
centres, each of which catered for 30-40,000 families. There were
no national school programmes for hygiene, nutrition and health,
but the community centres arranged visits to schools.
On question 26, concerning measures for disabled children, there
were plans to issue disability cards for all disabled persons.
There were 36 specialized institutions for rehabilitating disabled
children in Lebanon. In 1997, the University of Lebanon would open
a department of speech therapy. Everything was done to integrate
children with physical disabilities into ordinary educational
programmes when structures so allowed. There were approximately
4,000 disabled children who were cared for by Government services
and 2,000 by NGOs. Social workers from the community health
centres made house visits to offer psychological help to the
families of disabled children. Educational staff none the less
remained inadequate. To solve that problem, some NGOs concerned
with the blind sent their staff for specialized training abroad.
The training centre of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs also
provided training during employment to the staff of private
64. Concerning question 27, on
credit facilities to raise the standard of living of families with
children from the poorer sectors of the population, the Ministry
of Social Affairs had been independent only since 1993. At the
present time, it was being guided by the activities of the United
Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in that field. NGOs such as
CARITAS and Save the Children granted loans to women under certain
conditions, which they repaid once they were working. The
Ministry hoped to continue the scheme if it had sufficient means.
65. Mrs. KARP asked whether the law
provided for benefits to parents taking care of disabled children
66. Mr. HAMMARBERG said that he
was concerned about the risk of discrimination against the poorest
children, which was posed by a health system basically controlled
by private interests, as indicated in the national plan of action,
and would like some information on steps taken to solve the
problem. He would also appreciate details of measures planned to
help children whose parents did not automatically receive social
67. With regard to disabled
children, he wished to be apprised of measures to help them become
integrated into the ordinary education system whenever possible
and to train teachers in special education. Had there been any
evaluation of the current system regarding health education?
Lastly, what steps were being taken to promote breast-feeding and
increase awareness of the advantages of breast milk?
Miss MASON, raising the question of restricted access
to hospitals, asked for information on the percentage of births in
hospital and the number and training of midwives. She would also
like to know the role of traditional medicine in the Lebanese
69. Regarding family planning and
AIDS, the report indicated in paragraph 88 that the pattern of
transmission of the disease was predominantly heterosexual. Given
that health education seemed to be directed primarily at women,
how much information was communicated to men? She also wished to
have more information on how, within a patriarchal society that
placed a high value on chastity in women, the measures to prevent
AIDS and unwanted pregnancies cited in the report were perceived.
rose at 1 p.m.