Sunday, October 18, 2015

Lebanon's military courts at it again

Human Rights Watch is on Lebanon's case for a current prosecution of a civilian woman who claims she was raped in military custody. Now she's being prosecuted for defaming the army. HRW points out that military courts should not be trying civilians and defaming the army is not a proper crime. Details here. Excerpt:
Under international law, governments are prohibited from using military courts to try civilians when civilian courts are functioning. The United Nations Human Rights Committee has stated in its General Comment on the right to a fair trial that “the trial of civilians in military or special courts may raise serious problems as far as the equitable, impartial and independent administration of justice is concerned.” 
Prosecuting people for allegedly defaming the army or other state institutions is incompatible with Lebanon’s obligations under article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. In 2011, the Human Rights Committee issued guidance that emphasized the high value international law places upon freedom of expression in “public debate concerning public figures in the political domain and public institutions,” adding specifically that governments “should not prohibit criticism of institutions, such as the army or the administration.”
Say, wait a cotton-pickin' minute: wasn't Lebanon just discussing cutting back on the military court's jurisdiction?

Bravo to HRW for continuing to stand watch on these issues.

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