Lebanon: UN rights office calls for de-escalation of protest violence

Jamil Karam Demostration in Lebanon

This article is brought to you in association with the United Nations.


What had been largely peaceful demonstrations against Lebanon’s Government in the capital Beirut grew increasingly violent over the weekend, sparking the concern of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

“Some demonstrators have resorted to using violence to express their grievances, and security forces have responded, at times, with unnecessary or disproportionate use of force”, rights office (OHCHR) Spokesperson, Marta Hurtado, told journalists on Tuesday in Geneva.

“We call on actors to do their utmost to de-escalate the situation and upon authorities to deploy efforts to establish a meaningful and inclusive dialogue with all segments of society”.

Prime Minister Saad Hariri resigned in October, less than two weeks after protests began over a worsening financial crisis, unemployment and widespread political corruption. Since then, politicians have been unable to agree a new government.

Over the weekend, protesters in Beirut reportedly attempted to overrun the Parliament building, throwing rocks and firecrackers at Internal Security Forces (ISF).

“Bank offices and shops were vandalized, and public property destroyed”, Ms. Hurtado elaborated.

For their part, ISF officers responded with tear gas, water cannon and rubber bullets amidst reports of disproportionate use of force.

Protesters shot

Citing “reliable sources”, the OHCHR spokesperson said that “at least four young men were shot at close range with rubber bullets leading to severe and irreversible damage to their eyes”.

Meanwhile, combined data from the Lebanese Red Cross and Civil Defence authorities, suggests that at least 377 people – 142 of whom were law enforcement officers – were injured on Saturday and another 90 on Sunday.

“Law enforcement officers have an obligation to abide by international norms and standards on the use of force, particularly the principles of legality and proportionality”, stated Ms. Hurtado.

‘Fundamental pillars’ of democracy

OHCHR welcomed the statement by the ISF commander acknowledging the importance of acting with restraint when confronting violent protesters, and of the need to protect journalists and peaceful protesters.

“People have the right to participate in public affairs and shape all decisions that affect their lives, including by peacefully assembling to express their concerns”, spelled out Ms. Hurtado. “The rights to freedom of expression and opinion – including the right to give and receive information – to peaceful assembly and to participate are fundamental pillars of a democratic society”.

She added that “demonstrators should exercise this right peacefully and assemble without resorting to violence”.

De-escalation needed

Information received by the UN Human Rights Regional Office in the Middle East and North Africa indicates that 45 people were arrested over the weekend, most of whom have been released.

Some protesters said they were severely beaten during their arrest and subsequent interrogation.

“We also call on the authorities to conduct prompt, thorough, independent, transparent and impartial investigations into alleged use of force violations committed during the latest outbreaks of violence and ill-treatment during arrest and detention”.

Noting that victims and their families have “a right to justice, truth and reparations”, Ms. Hurtado concluded by encouraging political actors to “respond to the legitimate aspirations of the people”; to speed up efforts to form a stable, all-inclusive and respected Government able to address grievances; and listen to the demands of those suffering the effects of a severe and deepening economic crisis.

International Support Group weighs in

Six weeks after an enlarged International Support Group (ISG) meeting in Paris on 11 December, it met again in Beirut at the Ambassadorial level on Tuesday.

The ISG, which was launched in September 2013 and has brought together the UN, China, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, United Kingdom, United States, the European Union and the Arab League, noted with deep concern the ongoing absence of a functioning government.

And it expressed alarm over the situation that is increasingly marked by growing violence.

“The longer the absence of an effective and credible government capable to meet the aspirations expressed by all the Lebanese that will have the capacity and credibility to deliver the necessary substantive policy package of economic reforms, and that will be committed to disassociate the country from regional tensions and crisis, the more hardships the population will suffer, the more security risks and instability the country will face”, the ISG said in a statement.

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Venezuela: Parliament calls for urgent EU help for people fleeing the country

The impact of COVID-19 on the life of the elderly

Hurdles on creating effective vaccine campaigns against COVID-19

The role of junior entrepreneurs as a bridge between academia and business world

Can privatisation be the panacea for the lack of growth in Europe?

Peacekeeping chief highlights challenges facing UN Police

From Russia with love: Brussels and Moscow close to an agreement on Ukraine’s gas supplies

European Youth Forum welcomes steps towards raising awareness of youth rights by EU ministers

European Semester Spring Package: Paving the way for a strong and sustainable recovery

Jakarta is one of the world’s fastest disappearing cities

The Commission accused of tolerating corruption and fraud in taxation

Parliament urges EU to take drastic action to reduce marine litter

Feeding a city from the world’s largest rooftop greenhouse

Two EU Commissioners fire at will against the US

Coronavirus response: over €1 billion from EU Cohesion policy to support Spain’s recovery

Spending on health increase faster than rest of global economy, UN health agency says

Europe must regain its place as world leader in digital technology

3 ways the coronavirus is affecting animals around the world

EU guidance on the handling of visa applications from residents of Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions

One person dies by suicide every 40 seconds: new UN health agency report

Palm Oil: With Malaysia cracking down on production, what’s the alternative?

Here’s what COVID-19 teaches us about ‘social learning’ and the environment

‘Ground Zero’: Report from the former Semipalatinsk Test Site in Kazakhstan

To save biodiversity, MEPs call for binding targets at global and EU level

Eurozone: The crisis hit countries are again subsidizing the German and French banks

Germany to help China in trade disputes with Brussels

The three US financial war fleets

These 3 countries are global offshore wind powerhouses

EU and Germany join efforts to support the African Union’s response to coronavirus

Five ways individuals can help save the oceans

Eurozone banks to separate risky activities: Can they stay afloat?

Microsoft says the internet is getting a little nicer

Entrepreneurship and strategic planning: the enabler

5 of the world’s deadliest infectious diseases

How 5G can connect the affordable homes of the future

‘No-deal’ Brexit: European Commission takes stock of preparations ahead of the June European Council (Article 50)

Afghanistan: UN ‘unequivocally condemns’ attack in Kabul

Denmark is experimenting with ‘culture vitamins’ to lift people out of depression

Latin America’s cities are ready to take off. But their infrastructure is failing them

The EU lets the bankers go on rigging the benchmarks

Snowden is the “EU nomination” for this year’s Oscars

EU helps tackle air pollution in Kosovo with €76.4 million

How will the NATO-EU competition evolve in the post Brexit era?

Outbreaks and pandemics periods can be stressful, but how can we turn it to a positive life-changing experience?

Coronavirus Global Response: WHO and Commission launch the Facilitation Council to strengthen global collaboration

Teen activist Greta Thunberg arrives in New York by boat, putting ‘climate crisis’ in spotlight

A Europe that protects: EU customs seized over 31 million fake goods at EU borders in 2017

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is redefining the economy as we know it

How Sierra Leone is using 3D printing to become a model state

2018 Golden Pen of Freedom Awarded to Maria Ressa of the Philippines

5 things we can do in 2021 that will protect the ocean and change lives

MEPs call for additional EU sanctions against Russia over Navalny’s imprisonment

ECB to people: Not responsible if you lose money on Bitcoin, your governments are

COVID-19 shows we need a broader definition of safe mobility

‘Green economy’ pioneer Pavan Sukhdev wins 2020 Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement

Combat against devastating effects of tobacco can only be won ‘if the UN stands united’ – UN health official

ECB to play down IMF’s alarms for deflation danger in the EU

EU: All economic indicators in free fall

Palliative care: how understanding terminal pain and suffering guarantees the dignity of human rights

An open letter to Europe’s leaders

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s