Guide to the Law 105 on the Missing and Forcibly Disappeared Persons: Questions and Answers [EN/AR]



The promulgation of the Law on the Missing and Forcibly Disappeared Persons (or Law 105) in November 2018 marked a significant milestone for the families, authorities, and Lebanese society. From a legal perspective, Law 105 constitutes the first step on the path to establishing a comprehensive approach for the clarification of the fate and whereabouts of the missing and forcibly disappeared persons.
This milestone was followed, in mid-2020, by the appointment of the members of the National Commission as the individuals in charge of translating the provisions of Law 105 into reality and, despite the numerous challenges faced, indeed, the National Commission is exerting all possible effort to fully carry out its tasks and should benefit from the necessary official and popular support for this purpose.

Between the years 2000 and 2005, the Lebanese authorities established several mechanisms to respond to the demands voiced by the families of the missing and forcibly disappeared persons as well as by parliamentarians and civil society actors. Over the years, several challenges hindered the operationalization of said mechanisms, which eventually did not succeed in effectively addressing the plight of the concerned families.

Even in the face of these setbacks, the family associations and their allies were determined to pursue their endeavors through parallel venues. They resorted to several paths ranging from advocacy and lobbying to speeding up the adoption of legal actions that granted the families the right to access information gathered during the investigations pertaining to their loved ones, as specified in the decision of the State Consultative Council of 2014.

These continued cross-cutting efforts eventually led to the promulgation of Law 105, which addresses the important prerequisites that must be met in order to embark on the path of providing answers to thousands of families and clarifying the fate and whereabouts of their missing and forcibly disappeared loved ones.

The Law provides for the following key points:

  • The adoption of a legal definition for the missing and forcibly disappeared persons;

  • The recognition of the families’ right to know the fate of their loved ones and have their remains retrieved, as enshrined in the International Human Rights Law and the International Humanitarian Law;

  • The acknowledgment of the families’ right to be informed and to access information pertaining to the tracing of the missing and forcibly disappeared persons as well as to all the legally non-confidential investigations, including their rights to be respected and treated in a non-discriminatory manner and to receive moral and financial compensation;

  • The creation of an independent “National Commission for the Missing and Forcibly Disappeared Persons in Lebanon”, which shall be the entity in charge of the clarification of the fate and whereabouts of the missing and forcibly disappeared persons.

Going forward, more efforts are required to ensure the appropriate implementation of Law 105 and to set the ground for an effective Search and Identification Process capable of guaranteeing the protection and confidentiality of the data, which should be used for humanitarian purposes.

In addition, it is important to mention that the successful implementation of the upcoming steps will also require a proper coordination between all the concerned actors.

Since 2012, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has been supporting the families of the missing and forcibly disappeared persons, as well as the authorities, with the missing file through the collection of Ante Disappearance Data and Biological Reference Samples (BRS) from the affected families. The ICRC continues to provide its support in this regard to date, in collaboration with the National Commission. As part of its efforts, the ICRC has also been working closely with the families themselves through the implementation of different projects, such as family accompaniment and awareness raising activities, including those organized on the International Day of the Disappeared.

In light of the importance of Law 105 and in order to bring the Law closer to the families who have been waiting for decades, the ICRC and the Embassy of Switzerland in Lebanon have decided to transpose the content the Law 105 in this accessible guide, so the Law can be easily read and understood.
This guide targets the families of the missing and forcibly disappeared persons, civil society actors, organizations and the general public and aims at disseminating Law 105/2018 in a direct and accessible manner.

The guide comprises of two main parts:

  1. The Presentation of the Main Components of Law 105: Listing the involved actors and stakeholders, determining the composition and role of the National Commission as well as those of the committees in terms of managing potential burial sites and specifying the compensation mechanisms and workflows, as indicated in the Law. This part is by no means a legal analysis nor interpretation of Law 105.

  2. The Clarification of the Fate and Whereabouts Process: It is worthy to mention that since this process has not been elaborated in Law 105, the ICRC has taken the initiative to add this part and present the main elements and requirements of the Search and Identification Process. This has been done based on the experiences derived from the relevant international practices, in order to give the reader a brief understanding of how such processes are usually implemented.

Finally, the ICRC would like to take this opportunity to thank all the family members and organizations as well as the National Commission for the Missing and Forcibly Disappeared for their valuable comments and suggestions that have contributed to the compilation and production of this publication.

We hope that the readers of this guide will find it useful, especially the families of the missing persons since this guide is dedicated to them.

Simone Casabianca- Aeschlimann Head of Delegation International Committee of the Red Cross, Lebanon