Beirut - Ongoing violations of the right to freedom of opinion and expression by the military judiciary and security services in Lebanon, including the recent summoning of a university professor for questioning over press statements, should raise alarm bells.

The Lebanese General Security Service called university professor Makram Rabah for an investigation on 18 March 2024, citing a referral to the military judiciary. The request was made in response to press remarks made by Rabah during a television interview about a political meeting in Beirut; the Lebanese government considers the remarks to be a flagrant violation of the state’s constitutional guarantees and its international obligations regarding the right to freedom of opinion and expression.

The fact that Rabah was held from 9 a.m. until late at night in an attempt to coerce him into giving up his cellphone—even though the device had nothing to do with his TV interview—and his eventual release confirm that this summons was issued without legal basis.

Rabah was summoned, harassed, and intimidated over his public views in violation of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Lebanon ratified in 1972, which states that everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference. 

The military court in Lebanon is a unique court that violates the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights by failing to uphold the basic standards of a fair trial, as under no circumstances may the military judiciary, which is represented by the government commissioner at the military court, look into civilian cases.

The Lebanese government is required to terminate the continuous and intensifying intimidation of activists and to revoke laws that contravene both its constitutional guarantees and international commitments concerning public rights and freedoms.