Article 47 of the Lebanese Code of Criminal Procedures makes a lawyer’s attendance during preliminary criminal investigations mandatory. However, the use of this right by suspects, especially those with low income, remains limited due to the failure to implement the mechanism of seeking the free-of-charge assistance of a lawyer assigned by the Bar Association for detained suspects.
This paper looks into the reasons why the Article 47 provision addressing the fundamental pillar of the right of defense, equality before the judiciary, and protection of criminal investigation’s integrity, has not been implemented. What are the difficulties and challenges faced in its application by the public prosecutions, judicial police, and the two Bar Associations in Beirut and Tripoli?
It aims to assess the difficulties impeding the right to have access to a free-of-charge lawyer during preliminary investigation for suspects who are unable to appoint a lawyer for financial reasons.
The paper examines how the relevant authorities in the criminal justice sector dealt with such legal reform a year and a half after its approval, focusing on the role of public prosecutions, Internal Security Forces, State Security, and the two Bar Associations to ensure the implementation of such right.
It is based on a review of the legal framework regulating the right to free legal aid; official documents issued by relevant entities, and interviews conducted during March and April 2022 with representatives of these entities.