Middle East

UN concerned about violent clashes in Lebanon

UN spokeswoman calls on actors in Lebanon to de-escalate tensions

Peter Kenny   | 21.01.2020
UN concerned about violent clashes in Lebanon

GENEVA 

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed concern on Tuesday over ongoing violent protests in Lebanon.

"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,” said UN rights office spokeswoman Marta Hurtado.

“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,” she said.

Hurtado said that over the weekend, protesters in Beirut tried to invade the parliament building; and threw rocks, traffic signs, firecrackers, and other debris at security forces.

Several automatic teller machines (ATMs), bank offices, and shops were vandalized, and public property destroyed.

Security forces personnel responded with tear gas, water cannon, and rubber bullets.

“Several reports of use of force violations were received. According to reliable sources, at least four young men were shot at close range with rubber bullets leading to severe and irreversible damage to their eyes,” said Hurtado.

She cited combined data of the Lebanese Red Cross and Civil Defence saying that at least 377 people -- 142 of whom were law enforcement officers -- were injured on Jan. 18.

A further 90 people were injured the following day.

“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,” said the spokeswoman.

She said 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.

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.

“We recall, however, that demonstrators should exercise this right peacefully and assemble without resorting to violence.”


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