LEBANON’S Foreign Minister Nassif Hitti submitted his resignation to Prime Minister Hassan Diab on Monday in protest at what he described as the government’s mishandling of the financial crisis.
‘Given the absence of an effective will to achieve structural, comprehensive reform which our society and the international community have urged us to do, I have decided to resign,’ Hitti said in a statement.
‘I took part in this government to work for one boss called Lebanon, then I found in my country multiple bosses and contradicting interests,’ Hitti said, adding that ‘if they do not come together in the interest of rescuing the Lebanese people, God forbid, the ship will sink with everyone on it.’
Hitti has served as foreign minister since January when Prime Minister Diab took office.
Meanwhile, member of the ‘Loyalty to the Resistance’ Parliamentary Bloc, MP Hasan Fadlallah, also said in a statement on Sunday, that supplying oil and diesel to the local market in a sufficient and continuous manner is the duty of the Ministry of Energy, in cooperation with the Central Bank.
He added that ‘the pursuit of monopolists and those manipulating oil and diesel prices who have caused the crisis, especially in the South region, is the responsibility of the Economy Ministry, the security apparatuses and the judiciary.
‘Hence, these official bodies that possess ample data on those involved are required to set a clear mechanism to deter and take the most severe measures against them.’
The MP stressed that no political or regional considerations or justifications must cover the actions of these manipulators, adding that no one can protect them from the rule of law and people’s anger, for the only motivation of such individuals is greed and reaping huge profits and gains at the expense of people’s sufferings.
‘Since our supervisory role is to hold ministries accountable for their failures, and hold them accountable in parliament, our main preoccupation throughout this period has been to seek remedies that would ease the burdens shouldered by citizens, and we will spare no effort in this respect to secure the basic needs of our people, especially in these dire economic conditions the country is going through,’ Fadlallah stressed
This came as a leading New York-based rights group issued a damning report on the Lebanon government.
Lebanese authorities are failing to address the acute economic and political crisis that is endangering people’s basic rights, Human Rights Watch said on Monday in submitting a report to the United Nations Human Rights Council in advance of the next periodic review of its human rights situation.
The country, whose Universal Periodic Review is set to take place in January 2021, has not made progress on a number of recommendations it accepted following its previous review in 2015.
‘Lebanon’s people are being robbed of basic rights every day while politicians squabble over the size of the country’s financial losses and hamper efforts at reform,’ said Aya Majzoub, Lebanon researcher at Human Rights Watch.
‘Lebanon should commit to undertaking the difficult but long-overdue reforms that will put its economy back on track and ensure that all residents have access to health care and education.’
Lebanon supported recommendations at previous review sessions for protecting peaceful protesters.
But Lebanese security forces, including army personnel, internal security forces, and parliament police, have used excessive force on several occasions against demonstrators, especially following the country’s October 17, 2019 uprising – often with impunity.
Lebanon continues to criminalise peaceful speech, and prosecutions against people exercising their free speech rights have increased sharply since 2015.
While Lebanon fulfilled its pledge to criminalise torture, the torture of people in custody is still prevalent, and accountability remains elusive.
The 2017 anti-torture law fell short of civil society expectations and Lebanon’s obligations under international law. Lebanon continues to try civilians – including children – in military courts.
At least two civilians have appeared before military courts on charges related to their involvement in the October 17 uprising.
During 2015 Lebanon received numerous recommendations related to provisions that were discriminatory against women in its personal status laws, nationality law, and penal code.
Despite women’s active participation in all aspects of Lebanese society, many of these discriminatory provisions remain.
Under the nationality law, children and spouses of Lebanese women do not have the same right to nationality as do children and spouses of Lebanese men.
Personal status issues continue to be governed by 15 separate religious laws, all of which discriminate against women and none of which guarantee basic rights.
Lebanon’s penal code is still being applied to criminalise same-sex relations, and security forces have interfered with human rights events related to gender and sexuality based on spurious ‘morality’ claims.
Lebanon has not yet ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities despite promising that it would during its last review.
Although Lebanon’s Law 220/2000 grants people with disabilities the right to education, health, and other basic rights, implementation has been uneven. Lebanon’s Covid-19 response has overlooked people with disabilities, and children with disabilities cannot access remote education on an equal basis with others.
Despite supporting previous recommendations to ‘improve the legal situation of migrant workers’ and to ‘take into particular consideration the vulnerable situation of migrants in the country,’ Lebanon has failed to fulfil its pledge, and it has not extended labour law protections to domestic workers. Conditions for Lebanon’s estimated 250,000 migrant domestic workers have worsened in the midst of the economic crisis.
Lebanon’s health sector is struggling to provide patients with urgent and necessary life-saving medical care due to the government’s failure to provide private and public hospitals with the funds it owes them.
In addition, a dollar shortage has restricted the import of vital medical equipment and led banks to curtail credit lines. Medical supplies, including gloves and masks, are scarce, compromising Lebanon’s ability to deal with the coronavirus outbreak.
- Lebanon has dismantled an Israeli spying device in South Province near the border with the occupied territories.
Lebanon’s Arabic-language al-Mayadeen television news network reported on Sunday that it had been discovered on the outskirts of Kfar Houneh town, which lies in the Jezzine district.
The small device was equipped with GPS equipment as well as a high-precision sensor to measure humidity and temperature.
Last Saturday, the Israeli military flew a reconnaissance balloon over southern Lebanon.
Lebanon’s official National News Agency reported that the device was flown over the small southern village of Hula from some time.
Back on July 26, Israel admitted one of its drones had come down in Lebanese territory.
Israel’s Channel 12 reported at the time that the drone crashed ‘after it experienced a technical failure’.
Also on Sunday, Lebanese Defence Minister Zeina Akar said Lebanon reserves the right to resist Israeli occupation and the Lebanese Army is ready to respond to any act of aggression.
In remarks published by the London-based Arabic-language al-Quds al-Arabi daily newspaper, Akar condemned Israeli forces for firing dozens of shells into and around the occupied Shebaa Farms on July 27.
Lebanon has also announced plans to lodge a protest with the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) over the recent Israeli military offensive in the south of the country.
Lebanon’s UN representative said the attack on its sovereignty was dangerous ‘especially as the (UN) Security Council will soon discuss renewing the tasks of UNIFIL (the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon).’
The army, she warned, is ‘highly prepared and fully ready to defend Lebanon and its security and stability – and this has been proved more than once.’