Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Rupert Colville
Date: 1 May 2020
We are deeply concerned by the renewed violence that has erupted in Lebanon this week, claiming the life of one protester and leaving dozens of other civilians and law enforcement officers injured, as well as causing significant damage and destruction to public and private property.
We call on everyone to exercise utmost restraint, to refrain from violence against other people, and to respect property.
We remind law enforcement officers that they have an obligation to abide by international norms and standards on the use of force, particularly the principles of legality, necessity and proportionality.
We also urge demonstrators not to resort to violence, and stress that the right to peaceful assembly protects non-violent gatherings.
After a relative lull in the six-month old demonstrations, due to the breakout of the COVID-19 pandemic, protests against the country's rapidly worsening economic crisis resumed this week. Some of those protests quickly turned violent.
On 26 April, a protester who was hit -- reportedly by a rubber bullet -- died of his injuries. We have also received reports that at least 77 civilians were injured between 26 and 30 April. The Lebanese Armed Forces, or LAF, reported that at least 159 of its personnel have been hurt, of whom 15 are in a critical condition. These casualty figures underline the alarming intensity of the violence.
We understand that LAF used tear gas and rubber bullets, and that live ammunition was fired in the air. Protesters, for their part, reportedly used tear gas, grenades, petrol bombs, iron chains, wooden sticks and other weapons.
We have also received reports of instances of use-of-force violations by the LAF.
We welcome the announcement of investigations by the competent authorities into these incidents. Victims and their families have the right to justice and to the truth.
While certain measures such as physical distancing may be warranted in a bid to contain COVID-19, we remind the authorities that people have the right to participate in public affairs, raise concerns, and shape all decisions that affect their lives.
The High Commissioner reiterates that our Office stands ready to continue to support the strengthening of Lebanon's institutions and reaffirms the commitment of our Office to inclusive dialogue and the sustainable development of the country.
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