“Justice and legally marginalized groups in Lebanon” 16-17 December

The Legal Agenda, a non-profit research organization, cordially invites you to a forum on:

“Justice and Legally Marginalized Groups in Lebanon”

Friday and Saturday, December 16-17, 2011
Metropolis Cinema, Center Sofil, Achrafieh

To R.S.V.P please contact: info@legal-agenda.comor 01-321450

More info and download program.

Introductory note
What access to justice do marginalized groups have in the Lebanese society? Are judicial institutions equally opened to all people, even those who are less-empowered? Do Lebanese judges grant a particular legal treatment to these groups? Are lawyers willing to defend those who are economically and socially marginalized? Do legal decisions and processes in Lebanon discriminate against these groups socially or economically? Are these decisions gender–biased? What forms do these biases take in the judicial world?What are the commonalities and differences exiting between these groups with respect to their judicial experiences? What results can be drawn from these differences about the society’s stigmas, fears and taboos?

The past few years have witnessed increased interest from both national and international civil society organizations in the judicial arena in Lebanon. Many civil and non-governmental organizations have independently studied judicial files and rulings, for different purposes. Ruwwad Frontiers for instance, had assessed judicial rulings related to refugees in Lebanon between 2008 and 2009. Helem in 2009, resorted to the judicial files related to LGBT in Lebanon to reflect on and assess how these groups are dealt with in the judicial institutions. Other rulings related to the women migrant domestic workers were studied by both Caritas and Human Rights Watch between 2010 and 2011. Also among organizations who were interested in assessing the way judiciary deals with different legally marginalized groups, was Skoun that studied judicial files related to people who use drugs in Lebanon in 2011. KAFA has also made a study in 2011 on the judicial files related to women victims of domestic violence, and is working today on files related to sexual exploitation and trafficking of women.

Six categories were the focus of attention of organizations who have all resorted, albeit independently, to study judicial files and decisions and assess how the judiciary and its institutions in Lebanon have dealt with groups who are constantly being held on the margins of what is legally, and often socially, acceptable. What is in common among all these very different groups is that they all suffer from a social stigma that has often been converted into a legal stigma. Moreover, most members of these groups are less likely to have normal access to legal, scientific or language resources in courtrooms, and thus always find themselves on the weakest side of the power relation vis-a-vis legal professionals, and especially judges.

From its own conviction and scientific position, the ‘Legal Agenda’ considered paying serious attention to these research efforts and documentation studies in an attempt to develop a more comprehensive picture of underlying social, legaland political dimensions of the dynamic and power relations existing between judges and litigants, legal professionals and laymen, in Lebanon. More importantly, the Legal Agenda is interested in reflecting on the strategic uses NGOs and non-legal actors can make of the judicial arena and studies made on it. This will only be possible through gathering all these research initiatives and presenting it in one place in order to compare methods, results and experiences, as well as drawing some answers but also quite pertinent new questions around.

For this end, the Legal Agenda will organize a forum titled: ‘Justice and Legally Marginalized Groups in Lebanon’ on December 16 and 17, 2011. The Agenda aims at meeting the following objectives:

–          Sharing and reflecting on existing data about the real and lived legal situation of socially stigmatized and legally marginalized groups in Lebanon.

–          Synthesizing and comparingall research outcomes to draw scientific lessons and produce aggregated results on the judiciary work with regards to the rights and statuses of these legally marginalized groups.

–          Understandingthe nature of judicial institutions’ and actors’ work and perspective, through  analyzing value and social judgments existing in judicial files and rulings with respect to these groups, and hidden under the technicality of law.

–          Sheddinglight on the NGOs’ expertise and experiences in conducting such researches in the field of judiciary. To what extent these NGOs have used the analysis and outcomes of these “judicial studies” for advocacy purposes?


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