Monday, January 30, 2017

The trouble with Lebanon

From this scathing Middle East Eye essay by Belen Fernandez about what's wrong with Lebanese justice (with a focus on its misuse of military courts):
So why has a military court been selected as the most suitable venue for anti-garbage protesters? The short answer is that, as HRW outlines, Lebanon’s military court system “has broad jurisdiction over civilians, including in cases involving… any conflict between civilians and military or security personnel or the civilian employees of the Ministry of Defence, army, security services, or military courts.” 
Of the many problems with the arrangement in this case, however, perhaps the worst is that the “conflict” between protesters and Lebanese security personnel involved the latter firing water cannons and other projectiles at the former, as I myself witnessed at the October 2015 protest in downtown Beirut which produced the 14 defendants in question. 
Torture is par for the course in Lebanese detention centres, although the state prefers to criminalise those who speak out about it rather than those who commit it. 
The deeper reason, meanwhile, for the military court solution is implied in HRW’s note that “[a]ccording to defendants, lawyers and Lebanese human rights organisations, the military courts have used this broad jurisdiction to intimidate or retaliate against individuals for political reasons and to stamp out dissent”.

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