Following the unlawful extension of the state of emergency in Beirut on August 18, 2020, the Secretary General of the Lebanese Council of Ministers, on September 14, issued an administrative decree extending the state of emergency in Beirut until December 31 based on the exceptional approval of the President of the Republic and the head of the outgoing government, the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor noted in a statement on Monday 12 October, 2020.
On one hand, the decree violates the Constitution of Lebanon which, in Article 65, paragraph 5 stipulates without any ambiguity that fundamental decisions related to issues such as the state of emergency need a two-thirds majority of the members of the Council of Ministers.
On the other hand, it violates legislative degree 52/1967, which in Article two stipulates that the state of emergency is declared based on a decree issued in the Council of Ministers, where the House of Representatives meets to vote it within a period of eight days.
Based on the provisions of Article 65 of the Constitution of Lebanon and Article two of legislative decree 52/1967, the state of emergency should fulfill two fundamental inseparable conditions: the state of emergency should be declared based on a decree issued by the Council of Ministers with a two-thirds majority and the decree should be referred to the House of Representatives to approve it.
Accordingly, extending the state of emergency must go through the same mechanisms and conditions. Otherwise, it will be considered a constitutional and legal violation.
The decree to extend the state of emergency until the end of the year has many flaws and grave constitutional and legal violations: it was not declared by a decree in the Council of Ministers, it was not approved by two-thirds of the council members, it was not referred to the House of Representatives, the decision was not published in the official journal, and there are no emerging circumstances that require the extension. In addition, the extension was issued by an invalid administrative authority, the General Secretariat of the Council of Ministers, which is in conflict with the power of another authority, the Cabinet.
The authorities, when decided to extend the state of emergency, should have followed the proper constitutional and legal procedures because declaring the state of emergency has exceptions that should have been supervised by the House of Representative. Additionally, the state of emergency is an exceptional case that should not be overstated in order to prevent the perpetuation of any custom or tradition the authorities exercise by granting the army broad powers, which can be used as a pretext to restrict individual and collective freedoms and rights.