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Lebanon: First Step to Repeal Provision Favorable to Rapists and Perpetrators of Lewd Acts

(Dec. 21, 2016) A person who commits certain crimes defined by law, rape; lewd acts by threat, violence, or against minors; and other similar crimes may avoid punishment under a controversial provision of the Penal Code of Lebanon. (Lebanese Penal Code, Legislative Decree No. 340 of 1943, arts. 503-510, 514-521, & 522, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime website (in Arabic).)

Under article 522 of the Penal Code, the prosecution of such crimes will stop and the sentence will be suspended if a valid marriage is concluded between the female victim of the crime and the perpetrator. (Id.)  The prosecution of the accused or the sentence against the convicted person will be reinstated if within three years after the commission of the crime (if a misdemeanor) or five years (if a felony) the marriage ended in divorce by the husband without cause or in divorce mandated by the court for the benefit of the victim.  (Id.)

The Committee on Administration and Justice of the Lebanese Parliament has taken the first step to abolish article 522 by holding meetings, the last of which was on December 14, 2016, to review a proposed law to that effect. The Committee has already approved the abrogation of this article with respect to the crimes of rape and lewd acts, defined in articles 503 to 510 of the Penal Code, but did not yet reach a conclusion with respect to the other crimes.  (Meeting Summary, The Committee on Administration and Justice Resumed Its Review of the Proposed Law Aimed at Abolishing Article 522 of the Penal Code (Dec. 14, 2016), Lebanese Parliament website (in Arabic).)