Lebanon is a parliamentary republic based on the 1943 National Pact, which apportions governmental authority among a Maronite Christian president, a Shia speaker of the Chamber of Deputies (parliament), and a Sunni prime minister. The law officially recognizes 18 religious sects or confessions. In 2016 parliament elected Michel Aoun to the presidency, ending more than two years of political deadlock. Following the 2017 passage of a new electoral law, the government held parliamentary elections in 2018, after parliament had extended its legal term three times between 2013 and 2017. The elections were peaceful and considered generally free and fair. In October 2020 former prime minister Saad Hariri was designated to form a new cabinet following the resignation of Hassan Diab, becoming the third prime minister-designate since his own resignation in October 2019. Hariri resigned on July 15. Former prime minister Najib Mikati was designated on July 26 to replace him; Mikati formed a cabinet on September 10.
The Internal Security Forces, under the Ministry of Interior, are responsible for law enforcement. The Directorate of General Security, also under the Ministry of Interior, is responsible for border control but also exercises some domestic security responsibilities. The Lebanese Armed Forces, under the Ministry of Defense, are responsible for external security but are authorized to arrest and detain suspects on national security grounds. In recent years the Lebanese Armed Forces also have arrested alleged drug traffickers, managed protests, enforced building codes related to refugee shelters, and intervened to prevent violence between rival political factions. The General Directorate of State Security, reporting to the prime minister through the Higher Defense Council, is responsible for investigating espionage and other national security matters. The Parliamentary Police Force reports to the speaker of parliament and is tasked with protecting parliament premises, as well as the speaker’s residence. Both the Internal Security Forces and the Lebanese Armed Forces provide units to the Parliamentary Police Force. Civilian authorities maintained control over the government’s armed forces and other security forces, although Palestinian security and militia forces, designated foreign terrorist organization Hizballah, and other extremist elements operated outside the direction or control of government officials. Members of security forces committed some abuses.
The Syrian conflict affected the country economically and socially. Over the past 10 years, the conflict has generated an influx of more than one million Syrian refugees and further strained the country’s already weak infrastructure and ability to deliver social services.
Significant human rights issues included credible reports of: serious political interference with the judiciary; serious restrictions on free expression and media, including violence, threats of violence or unjustified arrests or prosecutions against journalists, censorship, and the existence of laws criminalizing libel; serious restrictions on internet freedom; refoulement of refugees to a country where they would face a threat to their life or freedom; serious high-level and widespread official corruption; existence or use of laws criminalizing consensual same-sex sexual conduct between adults; crimes involving violence or threats of violence targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or intersex persons; and the existence of the worst forms of child labor.
Although the legal structure provides for prosecution and punishment of officials who committed human rights abuses and corruption, enforcement remained a problem, and government officials enjoyed a measure of impunity for human rights abuses, including evading or influencing judicial processes. The country suffered from endemic corruption.