Human rights violation essay

Why are Human Rights Violated in Lebanon



  1. Introduction
  2. Hypothesis I: Violation of human rights in Lebanon has its origins rooted in the Lebanese society.
  3. Patriarchal social structure
  4. Patriarchal political system
  5. Acceptance of violence in society
  6. Impact of war
  7. Need to implement strong state image
  • Hypothesis II: Political hegemony of Israel is a major cause for ignoring human rights violations in South Lebanon.
  1. Violations during the war
  2. Political pressure on villagers
  3. Warfare against civilians
  4. Passivity of United Nations
  5. US support for Israeli aggression
  6. Rival Hypothesis: Human rights violations by the Lebanese security forces against suspects and criminals are subject to change under public pressure.
  7. Police violations in interrogation
  8. Violations in prisons
  9. Violations in detaining suspects
  10. Public reaction to violations
  11. Role of press in media
  12. Analysis and recommendations





Human rights violation essay

Fifteen years of civil war is perhaps an ideal setting for violence and the violation of human rights to prosper. This is quite the reasoning that we may finally come to as we deal with the human rights file in Lebanon. However, it seems that the civil war is blamed for almost every evil even that takes place in Lebanon. Violation of human rights have to a great extent been encouraged and enhanced due to the war, but it is also evident that there are a number of factors that have contributed to this problem. Human rights violation in Lebanon has existed long before the war. The Civil war, as well as other factors which may have social origins may also be involved, a reality which many Lebanese may refuse to believe. The human rights issue has recently gained a lot of attention in Lebanon. Limitations are yet found, both politically and socially, and it would take a long time accompanied with effort before Lebanon earns satisfactory marks on its civil rights report. The research question is why human rights violations are taking place in Lebanon.



Hypothesis I: Violation of human rights in Lebanon has its origins rooted in the Lebanese society.

Even though Lebanon is the most open Arab society to the west, it remains a patriarchal society where all power is in the hands of the father. The Lebanese father retains an image of the dominant male who exercises his right to control his wife and children. Similarly, higher authorities such as the traditional leaders of religious and political institutions and groups in society, exercise this patriarchal role over their subjects. This particular build-up of society gives the holders of power a dominant ability to control and manipulate those who are below them in the social hierarchy. Consequently, abuse of those who are in a lower status by those who are in an upper status is not convicted, but rather seen as a necessity in many cases in order to establish the order of society.


The fact that the father has the right to beat his children or wife to protect the social order inside the family is considered a right, and it is not objected to by social norms and standards. This state is projected onto society in general, where the patriarchal institutions, the state in this case, sees that it has the right to control and dominate its citizens according to the same social norm which governs the family. This relationship gives the state, especially its security forces including the army, police and others, the right to use every means in interrogating subjects, even if this involves the use of force.[2]

Rarely have there been objections to the use of force, which is an explicit violation of human rights in Lebanon. Usually, the public express their acceptance, and in the best cases their fears when they refer to these violations. Individuals usually warn each other about violating the laws to avoid “falling in the hands of the police.” This is very similar to the way in which Lebanese children act or behave in order to avoid being spanked by their parents.

Besides, the long period of war came to enhance the role of force as the best means to resolve conflicts and to put an end to problems. For fifteen years of natural law in the country, the Lebanese public in general came to a common acceptance of the fact that might makes right. Individuals and groups alike, from different political, religious and social backgrounds had their powerful references to support them in the face of their enemies. Lack of civilized means of confrontation contributed to complicating the relationships among the Lebanese and oppression became a major means of social interaction, creating classifications in society such as the strong and the weak, the supported and the non-supported. These realities indirectly contribute to the development of a negative attitude towards human rights.

The end of war was a social shock to the Lebanese society. People came to discover that they were no longer able to use force against each other, but violence continued indirectly, especially through the state. In the years that preceded the war, the Lebanese state earned its reputation for being firm with law violations, but it only achieved this reputation through violation of human rights during interrogating suspects and inside its prisons.

After 1990, the state was still weak, and the major challenge was how to impose its image as a powerful state that can protect its constitution and laws. This was to be attained through a powerful spread of armed forces and through firm dealing with law violators and suspects of sabotage or political conspirators. This was publicly accepted, especially as the Lebanese public were contended with the fact that law and order were returning.

To the average Lebanese, a powerful state was indispensable, and since violence had become more deeply rooted inside the social thinking of the community due to the war and the traditional social structure, it was inevitable that human rights violations by the state were acceptable. Consequently, as hypothesized, human rights violations have been rooted in the Lebanese society due to the long years of civil war.


Hypothesis II: Political hegemony of Israel is a major cause for ignoring human rights violations in South Lebanon.

In 1982, Israel invaded Lebanon, but this was not the first Israeli violation against the Lebanese territories and population. Since 1969, warfare in the South, especially between the PLO and Israeli forces contributed to limited violations that included bombarding villages, captivating individuals who were suspected of supporting the PLO guerrillas and in most cases the destruction of agricultural land.[3]

During the war, these violations increased as warfare in the South increased, and as Israeli forces became under more guerrilla attacks. The villages of the South were a daily stage for bombardment and destruction, especially those which were on the periphery, falling on the fire lines between the two sides.[4]

By the end of the war, confrontation between Hizbullah and Israel had reached more radical levels, especially that Hizbullah had become popularly accepted in the Southern villages. This forced the Israeli forces to launch  its wars on the civilian villagers more frequently. The account of human rights violations against Southern villagers is humiliating to mankind, especially that these violations are committed by armed forces against civilians.

The most frequent scenario in areas such as Nabatiyyeh, Jabsheet, Sharkieyyeh, Dweir, Habboush, Kfar Hatta and more than seventy other villages includes air raids in the early morning but which rarely involve any bombardment. This scenario changes in the afternoons as artillery shelling reaches the sides of these villages, and aiming at terrorizing the civil population. The goal of these raids and shelling is to keep the population alert and to prevent them from acquiring any feelings of security.[5] They also aim at creating an atmosphere of terror to prevent the civilian population from offering Hizbullah warriors refuge or support. Most of these raids are for psychological causes, to keep the civilians under a general feeling of fear and insecurity, and to exert pressure on the presence of Hizbullah warriors inside these villages.[6]

Yet, these violations have turned into actual warfare on more than one occasion since 1990. In July 1993, the Seven Day War was launched on more than one hundred villages in the South, and reached the cities of Tyre and Sidon, in which a number of civilians were killed and injured, in addition to the shelling of densely populated areas. Very few Hizbullah warriors were killed during this military operation.[7]

In April 1996, the Grapes of Wrath operation launched against Hizbullah resulted in the death of more than 140 civilians in addition to injuring more than 350. Hizbullah three missing warriors, whereas the destruction that amounted to about $20 million in the South was mainly in civilian areas. The worst crime record was in the Kana village where about 80 civilians were killed together in a UNIFL hangar as they were trying to get refuge from warfare. Reports show that the attack was intended. The number of victims will never be known as a large number of victims were never identified, and many were not even in full shape due to the shelling.[8]

Despite all these crimes, the United Nations and other international organizations and states have rarely moved to condemn Israeli violations of human rights in the South. In fact, had the Kana massacre not been displayed on international TV stations, the world would have remained dormant. All what the UN could do was to condemn the Israeli massacre, but only through its General Assembly,[9] since the American veto was going to prevent any condemnation of Israel.

The new world system which advocates human rights in China and Iraq, does not seem to operate when it comes to Israeli violations in the South. Israeli hegemony is tolerated by the US, Israel’s major ally in the South while Lebanese victims of human rights violations remain victims.[10]

This is not to mention the fact that about 800 Lebanese captives are still kept by force in Israeli camps where they are subjected to all kinds of physical and psychological abuse. In 1995, twelve captives were freed to report about the horrors which they faced inside these camps. Long hours of interrogation, dark humid rooms which lack the slightest fundamentals of sanitation or conditions necessary for human life, in addition to physical abuse, are all found inside Israeli cells and prisons. Many prisoners are interrogated with the help of electric shocks, and having their nails removed. Many prisoners have acquired nervous illnesses due to continuous torture. These violations are well-known to the International Red Cross in Geneva which is the usual intermediary in  exchanging captives for corpses of Israeli soldiers.[11]

International negligence of Israeli human rights violations in South Lebanon is part of the American political pressures on the Lebanese government to force Lebanon to return to the negotiations that were suspended upon reaching a deadlock over timing Israeli withdrawal from the South. Consequently, the US employs its political abilities to prevent any condemnation of these violations inside the United Nations. The victims of this political domination of world system are the civilians, and the human rights which the US considers to be its priorities world wide. The double-standard policy which the US follows with respect to human rights violations in South Lebanon cannot be justified by any of the principles which the US administration considers as the fundamentals of its policies.

Therefore, as hypothesized, Israeli hegemony in South Lebanon in addition to the unfair double standard applied by the US towards the Lebanese cause, has been the main cause of human rights violations in South Lebanon.



Rival Hypothesis: Human rights violations by the Lebanese security forces against suspects and criminals are subject to change under public pressure.

In a visit to Hubeish Police Department, which is the largest police department in the capital Beirut, one is immediately informed that the interrogation room is on the second floor, which is considered to be one of the gloomiest rooms one would ever be in. Access to the room itself is difficult, but the description of Deputy Ali Amhaz is very thorough.

Suspects are taken into the room after they are interrogated at the deputy’s desk. The treatment which a suspect receives depends on how collaborating he is. It usually includes slapping, punching, boxing, and kicking in the first stage. This is not to mention the violent obscene language used by the interrogating officer. In the second stage, the suspect feet are tied to a rod and then whipping begins. These are the frequent activities usually carried out inside the room.[12]

University students and others report that one is lucky if he is interrogated in this police department and left with only one or two slaps or punches on the face. Hospitality is usually more generous as interrogating officer have full freedom to deal with the suspects at their convenience. They call it “making a party for the guest” which is an expression used in most police departments in Lebanon.[13]

Another police department which is known for human rights violations in Lebanon is the Saray Department in the city of Sidon. Seargent Mamdouh Nakib reports that interrogating suspects is very rough, especially with suspects from Ein-Helweh Camp for Palestinian refugees. He also reports that interrogating officers have orders to be stiff with Palestinian suspects to spread a feeling inside the Camp that the state is back, and that it is not going to tolerate any violations of the Lebanese law.[14]

In addition to these violations, there are other violations committed inside the prisons of Beirut, especially the Prison of Beirut, where more than twenty-six prisoners are stacked inside each cell. Prisoners are now treated in a better way after the pressures that were exerted by the Human Rights Committee in the Parliament that was headed by deputy Bechara Merhej in 1994. However, violations of other kinds are still found, especially that juvenile delinquents are also imprisoned inside the same prison with adult prisoners. Many of these juveniles should have been in work houses for minor crimes rather than in the Prison of Beirut.[15]

Violations are not only found inside the prisons and police departments, but also in the means through which suspects are summoned. In December 1996, more than 100 suspects were summoned for interrogation after the Syrian bus attack. Suspects were not informed of their charges and were captivated for a few days for interrogation. Though suspects did not report any serious violations during their arrest periods, they complained that they were arrested without being informed of their charges, and in front of their children and wives in a manner which showed them as criminals, although none of them was charged in the end.[16]

Public opinion on the ways through which suspects are arrested and interrogated is usually conservative. The Human Rights Committee that was led by deputy Bechara Merhej was more of a political tool to press on the government for political causes, rather than for humanitarian causes. The proof is that this committee has almost dysfunctional after the elections in which deputy Bechara Merheh returned to the government line.

Therefore, political concern for human rights violations has not reached a maturity level in Lebanon that can exert sufficient pressure on the government to change its interrogation and arrest methods with civilian suspects. Moreover, it is evident that the public avoid direct participation in such debates, and prefer to remain passive.

However, the press has not remained so passive. Daily newspapers, especially Al-Nahar, are seriously concerned about human rights violations by the government security forces. These violations are subject to press scrutiny and questioning. Besides, the press and the media in general have participated in forcing a number of changes in the interrogation system. For example, suspects are now less subject to physical torture, although psychological torture is still predominant. Besides, the Lebanese law does not protect suspects who are in the hands of justice executives.[17]

Moreover, Syrian Intelligence officers operating in Lebanon have full authority to arrest and interrogate suspects without any responsibility or accountability towards the Lebanese government. Arresting suspects by Syrian intelligence requires no permission from Lebanese judicial authorities or any notification of the suspect or his family. In fact, arrest by Syrian security agents is usually referred to as abducting, kidnapping or disappearance, by the Lebanese public. Moreover, it is a publicly known fact that arrested civilians who are transferred to the Mazzeh political prison in Syria have little hope to return, and if they ever return, they show the same symptoms of torture and nervous breakdown seen on detainees who are freed from Israeli prisons.[18]

With Syrian hegemony in Lebanon, and with the fact that most of the human rights violations in Lebanon are not brought to public, according attorney Fadi Moghaizel, human rights violations in Lebanon are not influenced by the public opinion.[19] Consequently, the hypothesis is not valid.


Analysis & Recommendations

To answer the question regarding the causes of human rights violations in Lebanon, it is important to identify the nature of these violations. Human rights violations in Lebanon exist on two levels, one that is internal, and the other external. On the external level, Israeli human rights violations against civilians in the South occur through bombarding, shelling and captivating civilians. Besides, destruction of agricultural and other property is also a frequent violation of human rights. These violations are covered and protected by an American censorship on raising the subject in the UN or the Security Council. This political domination of the US is an evidence of the double-standard with which the US deals with the human rights issue, which shows that regarding human rights violations by the US is a matter of political priority and planning.

On the internal level, human rights violations can be seen through two perspectives. The first is the social perspective. According to this perspective, the Lebanese society is basically a patriarchal society which runs in a patriarchal manner. This gives those in positions of power, such as the father and the state the ability to practice their oppression upon those who stand on lower levels of the hierarchy.

The second perspective deals with the state-suspect and state-prisoner relations. Little has been done or achieved to make the security executives change their arrest or interrogating methods with suspects. Continuous violations of human rights inside prisons and police departments are frequently reported, but apart from the press and media, very few protests are heard from the opposition, except when the subject is related to political pressures exerted on the government, and only for political purposes, rather than for humanitarian purposes. The role of local humanitarian organizations is absent due to public negligence of the human rights issue. The presence of Syrian troops and security forces in Lebanon, especially the Syrian Intelligence is considered another negative factor that contributes to more violations of human rights in the country.

I strongly recommend that improvement of the human rights status in Lebanon be immediately implemented by the government. The government must be responsible for these developments on four levels. First of all, there is an immediate need to enhance the activities public and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) which are directly concerned with the human rights issues, without being related to political or interest groups. Secondly, there is the need to follow up local and international condemnation of Israeli violations against human rights in the South. Thirdly, the Lebanese government must put an end to violations made by the Syrian security agencies in Lebanon, particularly against political suspects. To insure that this takes place, the Lebanese government must enhance its sovereignty and organize its relations with Syria on this basis. And finally, the Lebanese government must reform its judicial system to include in the constitution articles that protect the civil rights of suspects, prisoners and civilians. These reforms must also include clear policies towards improving the judicial process of detaining and interrogating suspects by the local security forces. If Lebanon wants to live up to its image as a modern and open society, the government must carry out these policies, and it should also involve the public in their making because public passivity and negligence contribute to the poor state of civil rights in Lebanon.

[1] Hicham Sharaby. Al-Mujtama’a Al-Batriarky. New York: Research Center for Arab Unity, 1994, p.64.

[2] Ibid., p.65.

[3] Mahmoud Sweid. “Siyasat Al-Ard Al-Mahrouka wa al-Hall al-Mafroud.” Beirut: Palestinian Studies Institution., p. 22, 1995.

[4] Ibid. p. 24.

[5] Ibid. p. 28.

[6] Ibid.p. 49.

[7] Mideast Mirror, April 26, 1995.

[8] Sweid, p. 37.

[9]Personal Interview with Col. Wamey, CEO of Fudji Battalion Headquarters, Qana for The Voice of People,  May 2, 1996

[10] Walid Shafii, Al-Nahar Newspaper, April 22, 1996.

[11] Issam Sfeir, Al-Safire Newspaper, July 8, 1996.

[12] Personal Interview. Deputy Ali Amhaz, Hubeish Police Department, January 30, 1997.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Personal Interview. Deputy Mamdouh Nakib. Seray Police Department, Sidon, January 27, 1997.

[15] Al-Nahar Newspaper, August 12, 1995.

[16] Al-Nahar Newspaper, January 6, 1997.

[17] Al-Nahar Newspaper, September 7, 1996.

[18] Personal Interview. Police Colonel who refused to give his name. January 24, 1997.

[19] Fadi Moghaizil, Personal Interview, March 28, 1997.