Tuesday, December 14, 2010
BEIRUT: Despite successive political crises in the past five years, the Lebanese Parliament finalized this month a draft national plan on human rights, MP Ghassan Mukhaiber told reporters Monday.
The head of Parliament’s Human Rights committee said during a news conference at the Parliament to mark Human Rights Day this month that his committee had reached the final stages in drafting a nationwide plan on human rights.
Mukhaiber explained that the national strategy consisted of pinning down the executive and legal procedures to enhance human rights in Lebanon. “We also need to identify the state of human right conditions in Lebanon in relation to laws, practice, the Constitution, and the Human Rights Charter, he said.
The drafting of the plan was being supervised by Parliament’s human rights committee in cooperation with the UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCR) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).
Prison conditions, fair trials, media freedoms, privacy policies, wiretapping, women and children’s rights, and the rights of refugees were among the major topics under discussion at Parliament. The national strategy also stipulates the establishment of a National Independent Committee on Human Rights.
Mukhaiber said specialized working groups have finished reading background papers on each of the topics.
The MP said each working group was made up of lawmakers, representatives of concerned ministries, representatives of human-rights organization and civil-society organizations.
Despite holding one of the best human-rights records in the region, Lebanon has come under fire for a range of issues including military tribunals, torture, treatment of Palestinian refugees and gender equality, which continues to be seriously impeded by the inability of women to pass citizenship to their children.
The UN’s Human Rights Council last month blamed Lebanon for its slow implementation of human-rights laws.
MP Michel Moussa, who represented Speaker Nabih Berri at the news conference, said it was high time Lebanon fulfilled its commitments to the international community in the field of human rights.
He also stressed the necessity to establish a National Independent Committee on Human Rights so that it looks into all contraventions, including the elimination of torture.
Lebanon is party to six core ratified international human-rights treaties – such as the optional protocol on the elimination of torture, which obliges it to submit periodic progress reports, but it is thought to be behind on at least 12 to 13 reports.
The regional representative for OHCR in the Middle East Fateh Azzam called on Parliament’s Human Rights Committee to organize meetings and conferences with civil society representatives in a bid to discuss the contents of the national plan on human rights.
He added that the plan should be put into effect in the course of 2011. “We rely on the Lebanese government to adopt policies and take necessary legislative and administrative measures to honor its commitments,” Azzam said, adding that the national strategy was step towards fulfilling that purpose.
The UN official also hailed the efforts of Lebanese human rights activists, especially groups pressuring the government to allow Lebanese women to pass on their nationality to their families. “Lebanon will not develop unless the conditions of women are improved so that they are able to practice their roles equally with men,” said Azzam. – The Daily Star