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Lebanese caretaker government announces that the State of emergency has been extended by a month

Tuesday, August 18, 2020 to Friday, September 18, 2020

Lebanon's caretaker government announced Monday that the state of emergency would be extended until the Sept. 18. Under the original declaration, the state of emergency was only to last two weeks, ending on Aug. 18.

According to the circular, the decision was taken by the Cabinet's director general, with the approval of caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab and the president.

However, legal experts at Legal Agenda told The Daily Star that the extension was "unconstitutional" and an "abuse of power."

"An extension must have the approval of two-thirds of the government," explained Legal Agenda lawyer Ghida Frangieh. She also explained that it would require parliamentary approval thereafter.

She added that such an extension should be announced by a decree issued by Cabinet, not merely an "administrative memo."

The memo in question cited the government's caretaker capacity as the reason for it not being consulted.

Karim Ghandour, also of Legal Agenda, explained that while this announcement was "absolutely not constitutional," the initial announcement of a state of emergency following the port blast had at least gained governmental and parliamentary approval. However, he cited the lapse in time before Parliament's approval and Speaker Nabih Berri's arbitrary altering of the state of emergency's duration, as highly concerning.

The state of emergency grants the Lebanese Army exceptional powers over law and order and places other security agencies under their command. The military has taken over the state's emergency response to the port explosion.

The emergency legislation gives the Army far-reaching executive authority to control civilian life. This authority includes the prohibition of gatherings, setting curfews, conducting house searches and the extension of military jurisdiction over civilians.

Some experts have expressed concern regarding the impact the emergency legislation may have on civil liberties such as right to protest and a free press.


Acting Bodies: 
Lebanese Government
Approved/ Ratified
Civil Society Response: