Statement by Human Rights NGOs in Lebanon over the News of the Prosecution of Dr. Muhamad Mugraby

Today, Wednesday May 3, 2000, the undersigned human rights organizations and associations held a special meeting in Beirut at the end of which they issued the following joint statement:

1. The assembled NGOs denounce the prosecution or the likelihood of prosecution of Dr. Muhamad Mugraby as it aims to curtail the liberty of one of the active defenders of human rights.   Such defense necessarily takes various forms such as the analysis and criticism of laws, practices and violations committed by any of the three constitutional branches of government, namely the legislative, the executive, and the judiciary.

2.The assembled NGOs further denounce the violation of the rule prescribed in the Code on the Legal Profession which makes it unlawful to prosecute lawyers before seeking the authority of the Council of the Bar.

3.The assembled NGOs are of the opinion that acts relative to the right of expression which are published by any means may not be treated as witnessed crimes.

4.The assembled NGOs find it strange that some are talking of the possible precautionary arrest of Maitre Mugraby and wish to remind all concerned that prosecutions for publishing anything in the media falls within the jurisdiction of the press court where it is not possible to make such arrests.

5.The assembled NGOs agree that criminal prosecution is one of several kinds of pressures aimed at preventing the freedom of expression in the matter of criticism having the objective of achieving an effective, independent and integral judicial power.  Such objective is generally shared by all the Lebanese, and especially by lawyers including attorneys and judges.  The freedom of speech is one of the basic liberties protected by the Lebanese constitution, and the Universal Declaration on Human Rights.  This freedom was further emphasized by the UN General Assembly declaration of December 10, 1998, known as the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, and especially Article 6 Par. C thereof which endorsed the right of every individual and group:
“(C) To study, discuss, form and hold opinions on the observance, both in law and practice, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms and, through these and other appropriate means, to draw public attention to these matters.”

6.Instead of targeting Dr. Mugraby, who is one of thousands of lawyers suffering from the worsening of the integrity crisis, the undersigned Lebanese human rights organizations and associations call on the Lebanese judiciary and all other constitutional authorities to discontinue targeting lawyers and human rights defenders, and to provide evidence of their devotion to integrity, particularly by investigating the facts made public by Dr. Mugraby.

Signed by:
The Lebanese Association for Human Rights, represented by Attorney Nimat Jimaa,
Tel. 07-750452.
Nouveaux Droits de l’Homme, Liban, represented by Dr. E. Abou Aoun,
Tel 03-293693.
The Association for the defense of Rights and Liberties (ADL), represented by Attorney Ghassan Mkheiber, Tel. 01-331210.
Movement for People’s Rights, represented by Mr. Walid Slaibeh,
Tel. 01-585403.
MIRSAD, represented by Eng. Kamal el Batal,
Tel. 01-396391.
The Foundation for Human and Humanitarian Rights, represented by Mr. Wael Khair,
Tel. 04-922978.