The Legal Agenda’s lawyers have volunteered to defend organizations and people targeted for expressing opinions against influential individuals, bodies, and companies. The LA’s strategic goals include securing protection for defenders of public causes, especially environmental activists and people who expose corruption. The strategic litigation in this area aims to establish, via the judiciary, general principles that consolidate freedom of expression and protection for people who expose corruption and champion social causes and to induce the judiciary to treat such causes as public issues.

Examples of these cases include:

Defending Activists Against the Cement Factories and Quarries in Koura

Al Sabeh Cement filed a defamation case against environmental activist George Inati for a post on his Facebook page containing a letter he sent to the company via one of its workers. Inati appeared before Single Penal Judge in Beirut Nibal Mihyu on 20 February 2019, accompanied by his LA lawyers. The LA deemed defending him akin to a defense of all the people of Koura, who are demanding their right to health in the face of the “death factories”. The case is still pending at the Single Penal Court in Beirut today.

“Al Sabeh Cement Files Against George Inati: Citizen Appears Before the Judiciary Charged with Defending his Town and Its Environment and People” (Arabic)
“The Judiciary and Ministry of Interior Side with Koura and Its People: Al Sabeh and Holcim Investigated and Their Quarries Shutdown” (Arabic)

The Sakker El Dekkene Case Against the Council of the South

When the organization Sakker El Dekkene (“Close the Shop”) published a report highlighting corruption in the Council of the South’s projects and among Central Inspection Board inspectors, the council took media and legal action. At its behest, the State’s Cases Committee filed a request with the summary affairs judge in Beirut to remove the post from the organization’s website on the basis that it was damaging to the state. The LA lawyers represented the organization, defending the right to expose corruption. Ultimately, Summary Affairs Judge in Beirut Hala Naja issued a judgment enshrining freedom of expression and, in particular, the freedom to expose facts likely linked to acts of corruption. The decision included the principle of the right to expose corruption and a reminder to state representatives that their defense is not in line with the state’s interest nor its international commitments.

“Who Defends the State, and How? Judgment Enshrines Role of the People in Fight Against Corruption and Exposes Role of Cases Committee in Impeding It” (Arabic)

After the Access to Information Law was issued in 2016, several governmental administrations refused to implement it. Hence, the LA, in collaboration with individuals and organizations, filed State Council cases to activate the law and compel the administration to respect the right to access information, especially documents produced by public administrations. These cases aimed to enable citizens to exercise oversight over government activity and strengthen the mechanisms that prevent corruption. The most prominent of these cases include:

The Case Against Al Fayhaa Union of Municipalities

A number of activists lodged three requests to obtain information from Al Fayhaa Union of Municipalities about its contracts for garbage management and sewerage and water treatment networks. Under the Access to Information Law, the union’s lack of response to the request constituted an implicit rejection. Representing the activists, LA filed a challenge to the rejections in the State Council. The case is still pending in the State Council today.

The Case Against the Prime Ministry’s General Directorate

In a session held in May 2018, the Council of Ministers approved the results, presented by the minister of energy and water, of the negotiations with the company constructing Deir Ammar Power Plant 2 to convert the contract into a long-term energy-purchasing contract and authorized the minister to conclude them. Given this contract’s importance, especially in terms of the preservation of public funds and development of Lebanon’s energy sector, a group of activists from the group Kulluna Irada lodged an information request with the Prime Ministry. The ministry’s general director rejected the request, arguing that the necessary applicatory decrees for the law had not been issued. Hence, the LA, in collaboration with Kulluna Irada, filed a State Council case to challenge the Prime Ministry’s decision and thereby activate the Access to Information Law. The case is still pending in the State Council today.

Public maritime property issues constitute a significant portion of the LA Strategic Litigation Department’s work because of their importance and because they intersect with several issues that concern the public, particularly the right to access the beach, the right to a healthy environment, and the fight against corruption and the squandering of public funds and property. The Lebanese shoreline has been eaten away by private resorts that occupy most of its area and impede citizens’ access to the beach and enjoyment of public property. In one of the most prominent instances of corruption and squandering of public funds in Lebanon, influential people are benefiting since the war from the occupation of public property amidst a general trend toward increasing the profitability of tourist facilities and privatizing the shore without any regard for protecting public property, the right to enjoy natural sites, or protecting the coastal environment. In this manner, the state’s policies flout the laws in effect, particularly Decision no. 144/s of 1925, which enshrines public ownership of the shore.

Hence, the LA, in collaboration with activists and environmental organizations, has filed several cases aimed at curbing these practices and protecting public property along the Lebanese shoreline from the far north to the far south. For example:

The Eden Bay Case

In collaboration with the organization Green Line, the LA filed a challenge with the State Council to a decision granting a construction permit for the Eden Bay resort on Ramlet al-Baida beach (the last public beach in Beirut). The case was brought against both the Beirut municipality (which granted the permit) and the company that owns the resort. In February and March 2017, the State Council issued two preliminary decisions suspending the permit and thereby halting construction. When the company refused to implement the decisions, we filed another case with the summary affairs judge, who issued a decision to halt the construction and fine the company for each day of violation and thereby forced it to stop work. In April 2017, the State Council went back on its decision to suspend the permit without any explanation and without deciding on the merits of the case, thus allowing the company to complete the construction. The case is still pending in the State Council, which has not yet decided on an additional request to rescind its April 2017 decision.

“What Can the Ramlet al-Baida Case Teach Us?”
“State Council Decision to Protect Ramlet al-Baida: A Sign of Hope for Preserving Public Property and Right to the Environment” (Arabic)
“Ramlet al-Baida: Activating Laws to Protect the Environment and the Coast”
“Negative Developments in Ramlet al-Baida Case: State Council Overturns Its Decisions Without Explanation” (Arabic)

The Case of the “Fake Property” in El Mina, Tripoli

This case is the best example of the intersection of public maritime property issues with corruption and wastage in Lebanon. It involves a property under the seawater in El Mina, Tripoli. Members of a family claimed that the property had inadvertently been classified as public maritime property because of a material error in the demarcation and drafting process and that it is actually part of the neighboring property, which they own. While the judiciary dismissed their claims and established the property’s public ownership in 1971, they tried once again in 2014 via a case filed with the judge supervising land-pooling and subdivision in North Governorate, who decided that the property had indeed been inadvertently classified as public property. This decision came amidst a retreat by the Ministry of Public Works and Transport from its previous stances, its forsaking of advice issued by several authorities, and its willingness to abandon maritime public properties. Thus, individuals were able to appropriate an enormous section of maritime property free of charge. Activists from El Mina filed an objection to the land-pooling and subdivision judge’s decision. The case is still pending today.


“The Fake Property Case in the Care of the MPs: The Complete Narrative in Facts and Documents” (Arabic)
“Falsifying Property Ownership in El Mina, Lebanon (Part I)”
“Falsifying Property Ownership in El Mina (Part II): Citizens Protect the State from Itself and Disturbs the ‘Corruption’” (Arabic)

The Occupation of Maritime Property in Zouk Mosbeh

In October 2018, the LA, in collaboration with the organizations NAHNOO and Green Line and the Lebanese Shore Coalition, filed a challenge to the State Council against a Ministry of Public Works and Transport decree permitting the occupation of 67,677m2 of maritime public property near the toxin-emitting power plant in Zouk Mosbeh. The main grounds cited for annulling the decree were that it violates the maximum term for which the occupation of maritime public property may be permitted, ignores the Higher Council for Urban Planning’s rejection of the erection of permanent structures, restricts the administration’s power to rescind the permit, grants the minister of public works broad powers, and breaches the duty to ensure the continuity and integrity of the shore. The case is still pending in the State Council.

“Challenging the Decrees for Maritime Property Occupation in Zouk Mosbeh and Naameh: A New Battle to Preserve Public Property” (Arabic)
“Challenging the Authorization of Public Property Occupation in Naameh and Zouk Mosbeh: Coalition’s Speech in Press Conference Announcing the Challenge” (Arabic)

The Occupation of Maritime Property in Naameh

In October 2018, the LA, in collaboration with NAHNOO, Green Line, and the Lebanese Shore Coalition, filed a challenge to a Ministry of Public Works and Transport decree permitting the occupation of 71,234m2 of the maritime public property inside the Naameh municipal limits for the construction of a tourism project. The main grounds cited for annulling the decree were that it violates the maximum term for which the occupation of maritime public property may be permitted, ignores the Higher Council for Urban Planning’s rejection of the erection of permanent structures, restricts the administration’s power to rescind the permit, grants the minister of public works broad powers, and breaches the duty to ensure the continuity and integrity of the shore. This case is still pending in the State Council.

“Challenging the Decrees for Maritime Property Occupation in Zouk Mosbeh and Naameh: A New Battle to Preserve Public Property” (Arabic)
“Challenging the Authorization of Public Property Occupation in Naameh and Zouk Mosbeh: Coalition’s Speech in Press Conference Announcing the Challenge” (Arabic)

Besides being one of the biggest sources of environmental pollution, the quarries and stone crushers constitute the issue that best demonstrates the collapse of the rule of law in Lebanon because of its magnitude and the damage and violations it involves. Minister of Interior Raya El Hassan referred no less than 150 crusher and quarry cases lodged with the Ministry of Interior to the Ministry of Environment, and in March 2019, she ordered the security forces to shut them down. The quarries and crushers were then closed for a brief time; however, after less than 20 days, Saad Hariri’s government decided to allow them to resume operation under a 90-day administrative extension. When this deadline elapsed in August 2019, the government made another decision extending the period during which the crushers and quarries could operate once more. Given the special attention that the LA pays to environmental issues, its lawyers, representing the Koura Municipalities Union, filed a challenge to the Council of Ministers decision in the State Council.

In early 2019, the Lebanese banks illegally and unfairly withheld depositors’ money, preventing many small and medium depositors from accessing their savings. In this context, the LA filed two cases:

  • The first is a complaint that both the LA and Consumer Protection Lebanon filed with the Cassation Public Prosecution Office against the Association of Banks in Lebanon (ABL) and its legal representatives on the basis that it had turned into a framework for a conspiracy by the banks to commit the crime of usurping legislative authority. In other words, the ABL had become a criminal association (association de malfaiteurs) under Article 335 of the Penal Code. Instead of examining this and other cases filed against the banks, in March 2020 Cassation Public Prosecutor Ghassan Oueidat held two meetings in his office with bank representatives and with the ABL to negotiate with them before submitting to their conditions.
  • The second is a class action filed with the summary affairs judge in Beirut against the ABL and three major banks. It aims to prompt the judiciary to take measures to stop the banks’ arbitrary practices against depositors, hold the banks to their contracts with the depositors, and not burden depositors with the consequences of the banks’ mistakes and wrongdoings. The case is still pending today.
“Legal Agenda Statement on the crimes committed by banks” (Arabic)
“Cassation Public Prosecution Backs the Banks: Restricting Depositors’ Rights Under the Pretext of Protecting Them” (Arabic)
“Statement of the Legal Agenda during the Press Conference entitled: What recourses are available to protect depositors”? (Arabic)
“This is why the Lawyers Committee for the Protection of Depositors was created” (Arabic)
“What are available recourses to protect small and medium depositors?” (Arabic)
“Statement of the Association of Consumers – Lebanon during the Press Conference entitled: What recourses are available to protect depositors?” (Arabic)

During summer 2015, Lebanon witnessed a popular movement resulting from the state’s failure to resolve the garbage crisis. The authorities went to great lengths to repress the protestors by arresting and detaining them. Many were referred to the judicial courts and military court.

The LA cofounded the Lawyers' Committee to Defend Protesters in partnership with a group of volunteer lawyers in order to pursue the arrestees’ cases before the judicial police and judiciary. In 2017, the volunteer lawyers succeeded in obtaining important decisions from the Beirut Military Court declaring that it lacked the jurisdiction to try civilians on rioting and vandalism charges.

When the October 2019 uprising erupted, the committee resumed its efforts to defend the protestors. The LA provided the committee with administrative support by managing the hotline, documenting violations of protestors’ rights, and coordinating the volunteer lawyers’ efforts.

“No-Jurisdiction Judgments and Acquittals: Military Judiciary Disavows Repression of 2015 Movement” (Arabic)
“Military Court acquits the “infiltrators” in the 2015 movement”

The LA partnered with the Lebanese Union for People with Physical Disabilities (LUPD) to file several strategic court cases concerning disability issues in order to activate Disability Rights Law no. 220 of 2000, which had remained ink on paper for many years. The most important of these cases include the following:

In 2018, the LUPD and citizens Maha Shuayb and Amal al-Sharif, in collaboration with the LA, filed three compensation claims at the State Council against the Ministry of Interior and Municipalities, along with other demands. The claims pertained to damages that arose because the voting centers during the 2018 parliamentary elections had not been made accessible to people with disabilities, thus violating their most basic rights. They had been given two choices: Either refrain from exercising their right to vote or give up part of their dignity to exercise that right. Hence, these claims aim not only to guarantee suffrage but also to guarantee the right of people with disabilities to an accessible environment. This case is still pending.

In February 2017, the State Council issued two decisions compelling the Lebanese state to begin implementing the provisions on the right of people with disabilities to private sector employment. The LA had filed three cases in the LUPD’s name demanding that the state begin implementing the law and, in particular, activating the legal mechanisms that guarantee that medium and large-sized employers recruit people with disabilities. It also filed a case aiming to put into effect the legal right of people with disabilities to unemployment compensation.

“Judicial Decisions Doing Justice for the Disabled: Is the Judiciary Succeeding in Activating Law no. 220 of 2000?” (Arabic)
“Disability Union Has Right to Defend the Disabled: A Win in the Battle for Capacity and Standing” (Arabic)
“Right of Disabled to Working in Lebanon: Complicity and Non-compliance”
“Establishing Right of People with Disabilities to Unemployment Compensation” (Arabic)
“Strategic Litigation to Guarantee Right of People with Disabilities to Work in Lebanon” (Arabic)

Article 534 of the Lebanese Penal Code, which punishes intercourse contrary to nature, is often used to criminalize queer relationships. The LA has strived to propose a different interpretation of this article whereby it does not apply to such relationships because they do not constitute a contravention of nature. The organization’s lawyers have represented people prosecuted under Article 534, and their efforts have resulted in pioneering rulings in which judges put forward a new interpretation of the article that does not apply to LGBT people. Moreover, the LA has published a model defense to defend these groups, and its use has also produced important judgments.

For the model defense and the most important judgments issued in this context, see:
“Model Pleading to Bring Down Article 534 of the Penal Code” (Arabic)
“Beirut Court of Appeal: Sexual Orientation is Not Punishable”
“After 4 First-Instance Rulings, Mount Lebanon Appeals Court Declares Homosexuality Not a Crime” (Arabic)
“Matn Court Again Declares ‘Homosexuality is the Exercise of a Natural Right, Not a Criminal Offense’” (Arabic)
“Lebanese Article 534 Struck Down: Homosexuality No Longer ‘Contrary to Nature’”
“The Hammam al-Agha Raid: Collective Prosecution in Violation of Individual Rights”
“‘Androgyne’ Before the Lebanese Criminal Courts: Second Ruling to Redefine Intercourse Contrary to Nature” (Arabic)

In 2015, a refugee, alongside the LA and the organization Frontiers Ruwad, filed a State Council case to contest the General Security directives amending the conditions of entry and residency for Syrians. This case aimed to rationalize the state’s policies and its handling of the concerns arising from the refugee crisis and to affirm the legal controls that must be adhered to at all times, particularly the internationally enshrined right to asylum and Lebanon’s international agreement with Syria guaranteeing individuals’ freedom of movement between the two countries. Implicitly, the case aimed to make the political and judicial institutions shoulder their responsibility in the refugee issue, which should not be handled using rules dictated solely by a security agency. In February 2018, the State Council issued a decision confirming that the General Directorate of General Security may not amend conditions for Syrians’ entry and residence in Lebanon because the law restricts this power to the Council of Ministers alone. Hence, the State Council annulled General Security’s 2015 decision. The LA has also developed a model pleading for defending refugees against deportation and arbitrary detention.

“Model Pleading to Defend Refugees Facing Deportation and Arbitrary Detention” (Arabic)
“Denying Syrian Refugees Status: Helping or Harming Lebanon?”
“Regulating Entry and Residence Conditions for Syrians: A Legal Victory in Lebanon”

Issued in 1998, the Drugs Law overturned the penal logic prevailing in drug cases and enshrined the principle of treatment instead of prosecution and punishment in order to keep pace with development in the way that addiction is approached and the legal and social perspective on drug users. However, this principle was not applied because in the absence of Ministry of Health-accredited addiction treatment centers, the Drug Addiction Committee stipulated in the law was not activated. In the absence of the mechanisms needed to implement the law’s clauses, the courts tended to punish defendants without giving any consideration to their intent and pledge to undergo treatment.

In collaboration with the organization Skoun, LA lawyers have defended people charged for using drugs. By resorting to the judiciary, we aimed not only to defend the accused but also to pressure for the effective, complete, and faithful application of the law’s spirit and text and to consolidate the principle of halting an addicted person’s prosecution and referring them to the aforementioned committee. In 2013, the Court of Cassation issued a historic judgment halting the prosecution of an addicted person and referring him to the committee after he pledged to undergo treatment, thereby establishing the “treatment instead of prosecution” principle. This judgment was later followed by a serious of similar decisions. The LA has also made a model pleading containing all the defenses for a person charged with drug use available to lawyers, judges, and defendants.

“Model Pleading to Defend a Person Charged with Consuming Drugs” (Arabic)
“Court of Cassation Endorses ‘Treatment Instead of Prosecution’ Principle: A New Day for Thousands of Addicted People” (Arabic)
“Domino Effect in Drug Addiction Cases: ‘Treatment Instead of Prosecution’ Principle Advances in the Courts After Historic Court of Cassation Judgment” (Arabic)
“The Domino Effect in Addiction Cases: The ‘Addiction Instead of Prosecution’ Principle Before Baabda Criminal Court Too” (Arabic)
“Five Stages of Judicial Activity in Addiction Cases: A Model Case for Overcoming Prejudices” (Arabic)

After the Lebanese civil war ended, the authorities failed to provide any remedies for learning the fate of the people who went missing or were forcibly disappeared at the hands of the Lebanese militias and foreign armies during the war. They adopted a policy of totally ignoring the right of the families of the missing and disappeared to know what happened to their loved ones. Hence, the families turned to the judiciary to demand this right. From 2009 onward, several cases were filed in collaboration with the Committee of the Families of the Kidnapped and Disappeared in Lebanon.

The most significant outcome of these cases may be the State Council’s historic ruling on 4 March 2014 declaring that the relatives of the missing have a right to know their fates and, subsequently, to obtain a complete copy of the dossier of investigations that the governmental committee for investigating their fate conducted in 2000. The movement by the families and the pressure they imposed via the judiciary led to Parliament’s adoption of the Law on the Missing and Forcibly Disappeared in 2018.

“Lebanon’s Disappeared: Ruling Consecrates Right to the Truth”
“Parliament Adopts Missing and Forcibly Disappeared Law: A Turning Point in the Memory of Lebanon’s War” (Arabic)

The LA defends the rights of migrant domestic workers. These workers are subject to all kinds of violations because of the Kafala (Sponsorship) System, which makes it difficult and complicated for them to access justice. The LA has filed cases to defend workers who have fallen victim to sexual violence and forced labor. It is also preparing a model defense for defending domestic workers victims of forced labor and exploitation under the Anti-Human Trafficking Law.

Sex crimes are among those that most often go unpunished because of the difficultly of proving them and because of prejudices that frequently result in their justification or cover-up. It is particularly difficult to prosecute abusers who have social, economic, or political privileges, particularly clerics as the religious authorities try to resolve the issue within the sect or even via its internal courts, preventing them from facing any serious accountability. Hence, victims of sexual abuse face the vilest kinds of intimidation and silencing, and these crimes remain liable to go unpunished.

The LA therefore seeks to change the penal policies on such cases by ensuring that the victims can access justice, working to prosecute abusers and harassers irrespective of their social standing, and encouraging the judiciary to handle these crimes in a manner that reflects their unique nature and establish the principle of strict punishment for them. In several criminal cases, the LA’s lawyers have represented people who were abused as minors by clerics, while it has also defended other victims who had defamation cases filed against them for exposing abuse.

These cases are still slowly progressing through the judicial system. In one, the investigating judge has issued an indictment deeming the act by the defendant (a cleric) a felony.

“Observations on the Pedophilia Case in the Orthodox Church” (Arabic)
“Church Judgment in Pedophilia Case: Recipes for Erasing the Truth” (Arabic)
“They Defended Labaki and Attacked His Victims: When Justice Comes into Conflict with the Sect” (Arabic)