Arab World


14. Lebanon > Legal System

The judicial system, largely modelled after the French judicial system, is based on Lebanon's 1926 constitution (with amendments incorporated in 1990), and incorporates a mixture of Ottoman law, Canon law, Napoleonic code and civil laws.

There are three judicial levels in the Lebanese system: the Court of Cassation (Supreme Court); the six district Courts of Appeal, presided over by a First President, or Chief Judge; and the Courts of First Instance - organized into chambers of three judges each, though a single judge may adjudicate civil cases of lesser value and minor criminal cases. Additionally, the Council of State processes administrative matters, and the Court of Justice attends to state security matters. There is also a Constitutional Court, and Islamic Courts for dealing with the personal status of Muslims.
The Supreme Judicial Council, headed by the First President, or Chief Justice, of the Court of Cassation, is in charge of judicial appointments, transfers, training and disciplinary actions.
The human rights situation continues to be poor in Lebanon. Hezbollah hold sway over parts of the country, and militants carry out unlawful killings. Arrests by security forces can be arbitrary, and there have been cases of torture. There are long delays in the court system, and prison conditions are harsh. The government violates citizens' privacy rights, and there have been recent restrictions on freedoms of speech and press. There is official corruption. Freedom of movement for unregistered refugees is limited and there is widespread discrimination against Palestinian refugees. Lebanon retains the death penalty; after a five year moratorium Lebanon resumed capital punishment by executing three convicted murderers in 2004. A death sentence has to be approved by the president, prime minister and justice minister.

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