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Criminal Justice Processes in Lebanon: Judicial and Prosecutorial Training and Enabling Alternative Dispositions

ABA ROLI trained judges and prosecutors on investigating and adjudicating cases involving complex financial crimes, cybercrimes, and corruption. International experts shared best practices in the gathering, preservation, and evaluation of evidence, including digital evidence and evidence obtained from other countries through formal and informal processes. When Lebanon’s pandemic-related travel bans and curfews went into effect, ABA ROLI shifted training activities to online platforms. In partnership with the High Judicial Council, ABA ROLI also supported the development of strategies to enable alternative dispositions. This project was funded by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs.

In late 2020, ABA ROLI began a series of interviews with Lebanese civil society activists, academics, lawyers, and victims to discuss Lebanese priorities for assistance following the Beirut Port explosion. Respondents discussed law-related needs, gaps in Lebanon’s justice sector more generally, and issues highlighted by the current crises with regard to transparency and accountability.  ABA ROLI's objective was to develop strategies for support based on local priorities and needs—taking into account systemic challenges that impede development in Lebanon. ABA ROLI began supporting dialogue on issues of concern among local civil society and justice sector actors.

Working with law faculties, civil society, and bar associations, ABA ROLI established Lebanon’s first human rights law clinic at La Sagesse University in Beirut. ABA ROLI also supported a pioneering initiative in Lebanon’s north to establish and staff a legal assistance center to serve the region’s most vulnerable groups. Through a comprehensive assessment, ABA ROLI enhanced the understanding of Lebanon’s criminal case processing and sentencing framework, shed light on the composition of the Lebanese prison population, identified the underlying causes of the high rate of pre-trial detainees in Lebanese prisons, and recommended alternatives to incarceration and changes to detention and sentencing procedures.   

ABA ROLI successfully supported the establishment of a multi-sector Lebanese network to promote transparency and combat corruption in Lebanon.  With ABA ROLI’s technical assistance, the Network drafted legislation and raised public awareness about transparency and anti-corruption efforts. ABA ROLI’s support for legislative reform resulted in the recent enactment of laws on whistleblower protection (2018) and access to information (2017).