Security and Justice for Syrian refugees in Lebanon
The project in brief
United Nations Development Program UNDP and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees UNHCR
2017 - 2021
A lack of security and justice services and human rights violations committed by law enforcement aggravate tensions. Working with the Ministry of Justice, the Community Security and Access to Justice Project strengthens the capacities of ministries and local institutions. This includes professionalization of police and security forces; improvement of needs of prison population through better infrastructure; reintegration of detainees and improved oversight, including support to the National Preventive Mechanism against Torture; and free state legal aid services.
The "Community Security and Access to Justice" Project aims to improve security and access to justice for both Syrian refugees and host communities. It focuses on strengthening the capacities of ministries and local institutions to improve legal and aid service delivery for Syrian refugees and vulnerable host communities. It specifically works with the Ministry of Justice to develop a legal assistance scheme for vulnerable Lebanese communities.
Main activities of the Good Practice
The professionalization of municipal police, improving service delivery by Lebanese Internal Security Forces and implementing community security approaches in 18 pilot municipalities and 1 Union of municipalities.
Improving the basic needs of prison population through the rehabilitation of infrastructure, social reintegration of detainees and improved external and oversight mechanisms (including support to the National Preventive Mechanism against Torture).
Developing a broad range of free state legal aid services for host communities, migrants, Syrian refugees and stateless persons. Free and quality legal aid services to the most disadvantaged and the poor.
- Ministry of Interior and Municipalities,
- Internal Security Forces Ministry of Justice,
- Bar Associations, Civil Society Organizations,
- Municipalities and Unions of Municipalities,
- Municipal police forces in pilot municipalities.
Challenges and how they were overcome
Traditionally, the Bar Associations in Lebanon are focused on the provision of judicial aid and were not fully familiar with the broader concept of legal aid promoted by UNDP and UNHCR, in which judicial aid is considered to be one of the services under the broader concept of legal aid.
At the beginning, the cooperation of the Bar Association proved challenging, notably regarding their openness to the broad range of legal aid services promoted by the Joint Initiative, due to the tendency to "monopolize" legal services under the Bar Associations.
Lebanon has been facing several difficulties and challenges, from economic collapse, protests/revolution, government changes, and COVID-19. As a result, the project faced many obstacles and delays in some instances.
The political situation in the country has led to three new governments being formed within a year. UNDP and UNHCR had to secure the continued commitment of the Minister of Justice in the legal aid project by building a new relationship with each new minister.
Severe lack of State resources complicates the establishment of national State funded legal aid system.
How they were overcome
Following consultations with UNDP, the Bar Associations demonstrated openness to work on the new concept of legal aid. As a result, two Bar Associations signed off on the project document and officially named their representatives in a working group on legal aid.
UNDP and UNHCR held many discussions within Ministry of Justice and Bar Associations to define legal aid services and identify who can provide such services. In addition, UNDP contracted 2 senior experts to provide a legal opinion on legal aid and service providers. This paved the way for the concept of "paralegal" or legal assistants to be part of the service providers.
UNDP and UNHCR continued to work virtually and remotely with their national partners to guarantee the continuity of the project despite all the difficulties and challenges faced.
Results of the Good Practice
- 10 percent increase in the rate of public satisfaction with performance and trust in municipal police.
- Roll out sessions conducted by UNDP in partnership with the MOIM and ISF reached more than 550 municipalities in 21 out of 25 districts in 2019.
- As of July 2020, more than 100 municipalities have joined the reform nationally.
- As of July 2020, all 19 pilot municipalities had either adopted Code of Conduct or were in the process of developing them
- 3172 detainees’ living conditions improved through rehabilitation of infrastructure in prisons.
- MoU signed with the Ministry of Justice to launch the legal aid project in partnership with the Bar Associations of Beirut & Tripoli
- Establishment of the “Access to justice working group” (A2WG).
- Three national consultations were conducted for the production of a national policy on legal aid
How the project meets the GCR Objectives
Objective 2: Enhance refugee self-reliance
Improved social cohesion and protection of human rights by addressing access to basic security and justice services for Syrian refugees and Lebanese host communities have limited access to basic security and justice service.
UNDP plans to launch 3 legal aid helpdesks in Saida, Baalbak and Tripoli. An additional helpdesk model is to be designed for the Beirut area.
UNDP plans to continue the national consultations in order to establish a national policy on legal aid; UNDP is developing a strategy to ensure the sustainability of the legal aid provision in Lebanon.