HRW: Lebanon Witnesses The Most Drastic Deterioration Of Human Rights

Bilal Hussein

The failure to address huge crises in Lebanon by its authorities has resulted in the country’s “most drastic deterioration of rights in decades,” Human Rights Watch announced on Wednesday.

In its annual report “World Report 2021”, the global human rights watchdog called out the Lebanese government for its corrupt governance curing continuous crises, including the economic and health sectors that exacerbated the country’s poverty rate in 2020.

“With each passing day, the lives of Lebanon’s citizens, migrants, and refugees are becoming more unbearable,” Aya Majzoub, HRW’s Lebanon researcher said.

“Yet, the political elite is still haggling over how to divide the shrinking spoils to enrich themselves while impoverishing the country,” she added.

Ever since Beirut’s disastrous port explosion, Lebanon has been without a fully functioning government, and the formation process of a new Cabinet hasn’t seen any progress as political elites feud about their shares.

HRW also criticized the ongoing investigations into the catastrophic Beirut Port blast by the Lebanese judiciary for not being independent and transparent.

Authorities have stated that the explosion was caused by the ignition of around 2,700 tons of ammonium nitrate, a highly explosive material, stored in a warehouse at the port for seven years.

However, over 5 months later and there has not been any official held accountable for the tragedy, leaving unanswered questions from the victim’s families.

HRW also emphasized that the state has not reimbursed its dues to hospitals at a time when they are faced with two crises:

A financial crisis that has made paying for medical equipment and supplies extremely challenging as foreign currency disappeared from the local market. All the while the nation deals with the crisis of the coronavirus pandemic.

The report went on to highlight the fact that authorities escalated their attacks on free speech and assembly during protests that started on October 17th, 2019.

“Security forces, including the army, the anti-riot police, and the parliamentary police, used excessive and, at times, lethal force against mostly peaceful protesters. But instead of holding law enforcement officials accountable, security agencies blamed each other for abuses,” HRW stated.

During the month of November, HRW also noted that Lebanese authorities have fallen short in their obligations to protect women and girls from violence, and to end discrimination against them.

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