Thursday, December 09, 2010
BEIRUT: International advocacy group Human Rights Watch (HRW) publically launched its Beirut committee Monday evening. The committee is the first of its kind in the Middle East and is part of the group’s ongoing drive to expand its regional activities.
It will bring together leading local academics, journalists and business personalities in hopes they will utilize their influence and large networks to advance human rights issues and promote pressing concerns, such as abuse of migrant workers and illegal detention, which are both considered major abuses in the country.
Leading corporate and financial lawyer Chadia El Meouchi, Aramex courier company founder Ali Ghandour, and Carnage Endowment for International Peace Middle East center director Paul Salem, have all been named as part of the founding directorate team. Their participation was initially unveiled at a gala dinner held last week.
“The new Beirut committee will not only strengthen our local capacity to project our message. It will also contribute to our global defense of human rights by enlisting the help of important voices from the Middle East,” said HRW Lebanon director Nadim Khoury.
HRW monitors and reports on international human rights, refugee, and humanitarian law issues in some 90 countries but has to date only established 18 committees. Recent HRW reports on Lebanon have included investigations into the consequences of landmines and the legal and physical limbo imposed on the 50,000 estimated Iraqi refugees in the country.
“The Beirut committee of HRW brings together committed and influential Lebanese to raise awareness of human rights issues, and to apply pressure at the highest levels to achieve change,” said Hassan Elmasry, a member of HRW’s international board. “They share one vision – a Lebanon and a world with greater justice and security, where the rights of all people are respected.”
HRW is currently advocating for greater cohesion in the national citizenship campaign, pushing for legislative reforms that will enable women to pass on Lebanese citizenship to their husbands and children. A series of roundtable discussions hosted by the organization Tuesday have helped edge the NGOs involved in the campaign toward greater unity.
Although the nationality movement has gained impetus in recent years, proponents remain divided on the extent of any reform: some advocate only children be given citizenship and others argue wives should be able to pass citizenship on to their husbands.
The granting of equal citizenship rights – such as passing on nationality and equality before the law – are protected by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. – The Daily Star