Judicial Authority Calls on Lebanese General Security to Justify Passport Requirements Restricting Travel Abroad

2022-12-14    |   

Judicial Authority Calls on Lebanese General Security to Justify Passport Requirements Restricting Travel Abroad

On 15 November 2022, Lebanon’s State Council issued an interlocutory order giving the Ministry of Interior and General Directorate of General Security one week to “explain the practical and legal grounds” for the restrictions imposed on citizens’ right to obtain passports. The court did so in preparation for its examination of a request to suspend and nullify the restrictions.


In August, the Legal Agenda (LA) filed a challenge against the February General Security circular restricting the right to obtain a passport because of insufficient funds. The circular requires that passports be granted based on the need to travel abroad. Although the funds necessary to issue one million passports were allocated in April, General Security continues to impose these requirements.


The LA based its challenge on the fact that the circular restricts the freedom to travel abroad – which is guaranteed in the international conventions that constitute an inseparable part of the Constitution – in contravention of the principle that any restriction of freedoms must come via a law and be necessary and proportional. The challenge also cites the circular’s breach of the principle of equality among citizens and legal stability in their relationship with the administration, as well as the risk of it becoming an avenue for strengthening clientelist relationships. The LA resorted to the State Council to nullify the circular after Caretaker Minister of Interior Bassam Mawlawi, by remaining silent, implicitly refused its request that he exercise his administrative authority in this regard. In other words, by turning to the State Council, the LA aimed to enable it to exercise judicial oversight over General Security because the executive and legislative authorities had foregone exercising their own oversight over it.


This interlocutory order is important because it is a first step toward imposing judicial oversight over General Security in relation to restricting the constitutional freedom of movement, specifically the freedom to travel abroad. Hopefully, this step will lead to securing this freedom after ending its violation. We are especially hopeful that this will occur soon because of the short deadline (one week) given to the Ministry of Interior and General Security to present their justifications, which prevents further prejudice to citizens’ freedoms.


The interlocutory order was issued by the State Council’s First Chamber, composed of presiding judge Fadi Elias and judges Carl Irani and Malika Mansour.

This article is an edited translation from Arabic.

Share the article

Mapped through:

Inequalities, Discrimination and Marginalisation, Lebanon, Strategic Litigation

For Your Comments

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *