The Lebanese Center for Human Rights (CLDH) is a local non-profit, non-partisan Lebanese human rights organization in Beirut that was established by the Franco-Lebanese Movement SOLIDA (Support for Lebanese Detained Arbitrarily) in 2006. SOLIDA has been active since 1996 in the struggle against arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance and the impunity of those perpetrating gross human violations.

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November 7, 2016

The Daily Star- Hamzeh custody case draws Berri’s attention, November 07 , 2016

BEIRUT: Work to secure the release of jailed child-custody battle mother Fatima Hamzeh is progressing and saw an intervention by one of the country’s most powerful politicians, her lawyer said Sunday following protests against the arrest over the weekend.
Hamzeh was jailed last week after refusing to abide by a religious court order giving custody of her child to her estranged husband. The news was met with dismay from women’s rights activists and campaigners who organized protests Saturday.
“There is serious effort and work [underway] to release Fatima,” Fadia Hamzeh, her sister and lawyer, told The Daily Star. Fadia refused to give additional details of the settlement, but said they were hoping to secure her release from the Ghobeiri prison Monday.
Fadia also disclosed that Speaker Nabih Berri had intervened to try to have Hamzeh released.
Hamzeh was arrested Wednesday outside her home in Haret Hreik after refusing to hand over her 3-1/2-year-old son, Ali to her husband. Ali’s whereabouts are still unknown.
Hamzeh’s case sparked protests, organized the Protecting Lebanese Women campaign Saturday. Friends and sympathizers of Hamzeh gathered in front of the Higher Shiite Council in Haret Hreik to denounce her imprisonment.
The protesters blocked the entrance to the area, south of Beirut, and chanted slogans in condemnation of Hamzeh’s detention.
One slogan read, “Your turban is soaked with the tears of mothers and children.”
The demonstrators also voiced calls for an amendment to the current civil status laws that do not grant women equal rights as men in many areas of the law.
They then marched toward the nearby Ghobeiri Police Station where Hamzeh is being held, and staged a rally there.
The hashtag “With Fatima against the Jaafari Court” (translated from the Arabic original) has been trending on Twitter and Facebook in reference to the Jaafari religious court that sentenced Hamzeh. Many users shared their own experiences of domestic violence and suffering due to the loss of custody of their children.
The Shiite Jaafari religious court had granted Hamzeh’s husband custody over their toddler following a near three-year judicial battle with her husband Mohammad Jezzini.
Fadia claimed her sister’s husband had forced her out of their marital home and married another woman, leaving her to raise the toddler alone.
The mandate to preside over civil status cases, like marriage, divorce and inheritance, is the prerogative of religious courts under Lebanese law. With no single overarching civil status law, each sect’s court systems have their own laws, heads and rulings.
The Jaafari council currently gives custody of boys to their father once they turn 2 and 7 to girls, unless significant evidence shows the farther is unfit to raise the child.
Members of local women’s rights groups have previously attempted – so far unsuccessfully – to persuade the vice-president of the Higher Shiite Council Sheikh Abdel-Amir Qabalan to make the age when a father is granted custody the same as other Muslim and Christian authorities.
Nadyn Jouny, a coordinator at the Protecting Lebanese Women campaign, said that the Saturday’s protest was a positive move in the struggle to up the age of custody in the Shiite sect. It is an issue the campaign has been fighting to achieve for three years.
“Fatima’s case was the first spark [but] it won’t be the last,” Jouny told The Daily Star Sunday. “There are thousands of women that are in a similar position to Fatima.” She said that Saturday’s protest in front of a body like the Higher Shiite Council was a reflection that people are starting to break the barrier surrounding the religious authority.
Jouny, who herself lost her now 6-year-old son in a custody battle, vowed that the fight to achieve fairness for women in the issue of custody will continue.
“We will continue. Fatima’s case isn’t the only one, in the protest there were over 15 women who were crying [because they are in a similar case].”

Source & Link : The Daily Star

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