ALEF - Act for Human Rights, seeks since 1996 to strengthen human rights and freedom of expression as a cornerstone of social, economic and political development in Lebanon. Through a comprehensive approach to monitoring, defending and providing education on human rights, ALEF hopes to build an influential ‘human rights constituency’ to help realise a durable peace in the country. ALEF believes that in order to have and maintain peace in Lebanon, it is necessary for its people to feel peace and practice it. Peace can only be felt as long as certain basic human rights are safeguarded and ensured.
ALEF’s goals and objectives
ALEF aims to:
- Be a proponent of human rights and friendly policies and practices at the national and regional levels.
- Establish relationships with stakeholders and partners in order to strengthen collective influence on decision makers.
- Contribute towards an effective accountability framework through continuous monitoring and reporting of human rights’ violations using targeted advocacy initiatives.
- Promote human rights values as a basis of durable peace in everyday life.
- Involve, empower and generate ownership of human rights values among young people, children and their communities.
- To lead an ongoing national campaign to abolish the death penalty, torture including in prisons, arbitrary detention, lengthy pre-trial detentions and long delays in trials. To achieve this goal, it organized, with the support of the European Union, a series of training that aim at strengthening the capacity of students, young lawyers, and civil society organizations to monitor, document, report and defend fair trial practices in Lebanon.
One pillar of ALEF’s work is solely dedicated to peacebuilding and conflict transformation. It works to create space for Lebanese Youth to discover themselves, the other and their community and to act in a responsible manner. To this end, ALEF has created outreach programs working mainly with young people and children across Lebanon. The conflict transformation work started with the creation of peace and human rights clubs at universities. The project was called “3D- rights, duties and citizenship”.
Its success resulted in a follow up, three phased project entitled ‘Youth Building Reconciliation (YBR)’. It was launched specifically in areas with religious, political, economic and sectarian tensions. To achieve the project’s goals, young people from different backgrounds were put together in workshops on peace education, human rights and conflict transformation. During this training, they were provided with space to express themselves and to talk to others. In the second phase of YBR, ALEF followed the approach of training the trainers, and in a third phase the participants of this project worked as role models for peace and reconciliation in their own communities.
During YBR, ALEF realised through participants feedback that practical tools on conflict transformation were missing. As a result of this assessment, ALEF developed in its third peace-building project, ‘Responsive and Active Youth’, a practical toolboard game to provide interactive conflict transformation training.
ALEF is also taking part in the formation of a national truth and reconciliation coalition whose goal is to work towards reconciliation and permanent peace in Lebanon, as a result of the absence of transitional justice.
The creation of a culture of peace and conflict transformation among those who were participating in ALEF’s projects in the past. Creation of a culture of volunteerism and activism for peacebuilding among young people; almost all the permanent staff members of ALEF today have worked as volunteers in the field of peacebuilding for many years with different Lebanese and international NGOs before. Creation of the board game “ta3o Ne7ke” (Let’s Talk) intended to teach young people and children how to transform conflicts and build peace in a playful way. It also teaches participants to break the silence that is part of Lebanese culture when it comes to discussing feelings caused by conflict and war situations. Working at a grassroots level. Development of toolkits for human rights education and conflict transformation.
ALEF's production "hopes and dreams" portraying children's rights challenges in Lebanon was presented at "Stockholm film festival Junior". Children were responsible of the different stages of the film making process, the scenario writing, the shooting, and the overall production.
Since the beginning of the Syrian crisis, ALEF has participated in many international conferences related to the political and humanitarian challenges developing by the war in Syria. It worked with UNHabitat and International Alert on projects enhancing local security in communities hosting refugees. The organization is also active in dealing with the issue of deportation many refugees in Lebanon face.
In June 2016, ALEF co-authored a human rights report entitled "Trapped in Lebanon: The alarming human rights and human security situation of Syrian refugees in Lebanon" which warned that the underlying motive of the official policy towards Syrian and Palestinian refugees in Lebanon is to deliberately increase their hardship so as to encourage their departure from the country. It also believes in the importance of preserving the Lebanese ecosystem and social cohesion in dealing with the refugees' crisis to avoid conflict between them and host communities.
It closely monitors any violations targeting Syrian refugees, especially deportation and the risk of persecution in Syria. ALEF and seven Lebanese human rights organizations called in June 2019 the Lebanese authorities (including the President, Council of Ministers, Supreme Defense Council, General Prosecutor, Minister of Interior, General Security, Internal Security Forces and Lebanese Armed Forces) to respect the Constitution and the rule of law and avoid forced deportations of Syrians. They also called on them to assume the responsibility to instate a general policy governing the asylum in Lebanon of persons from Syria in conformity with the Lebanese Constitution and Lebanon’s humanitarian and international obligations.
ALEF lobbied with many civil society for the adoption in October 2017 of a new law against torture and crimimalising this practice.
In August 2018, ALEF was one of 22 human rights organisations submitting a letter to the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and the High Commissioner for Human Rights calling for pressure on the Lebanese authorities to stop the repressive practices against activists. The organization lobbies to protect digital rights and stop bringing activists to the Military Court; as well as migrant workers rights.
ALEF produced a report on the violations of the right of the Assembly during the #YouStink demonstrations in 2015. It has been active on raising awareness on that issue during the Octor 17th, 2019 uprising, and documenting all kinds of violations targeting peaceful demonstrators as well as police brutality.