Lebanon’s political developments bring new hope for the National Preventive Mechanism

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

The Lebanese parliament has elected, on 31 October, a new president after 29 months of political vacuum. The parliament convened earlier this month and adopted the long-awaited law establishing the National Commission for Human Rights, integrating the torture prevention mandate.

Lebanon was the first country in the Middle East and North Africa region to ratify the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture (OPCAT), in December 2008. Several national actors played a key role supporting, advocating and campaigning for OPCAT ratification in Lebanon, in particular members of the parliament (Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights), the Working Group against Torture, and local NGOs.

After the ratification, a series of consultations and dialogues at the national level concluded that the establishment of a new National Human Rights Commission encompassing the National Preventive Mechanism mandate was the most suitable model for Lebanon. A draft law was introduced to the Parliament in January 2012, but a long political and legislative stalemate blocked the adoption.

Eventually, the Lebanese parliament convened on 19 October and adopted a number of legislations, including the law establishing the National Commission for Human Rights, with a permanent Committee for the Prevention of Torture.

The House of Representatives reconvened on 31 October and elected Michel Oun the new president of Lebanon, after two years of political vacuum. The NHRI-NPM law must now be issued by the newly elected president in order to enter into force. The APT welcomes these political developments and the positive steps towards the establishment of a National Preventive Mechanism.