Under Lebanon’s current government the rule of law has in fact become the exception, with entirely different meaning to those who have the privilege of political protection and those who do not.
Crimes take place in areas that security forces are prohibited from, with perpetrators either getting away with the crime or bargaining over their punishment.
The rule of law has become a flexible, malleable concept, tailor-made according to various factors of sect, political affiliation and geographic area.
In the current tense electoral climate this has only become more obvious, with each incident becoming politicized and used for political point-scoring. This has been obvious in recent days.
In Nabatieh, for instance, a municipal cashier found to have embezzled $40,000 entered negotiations with the mayor and a local governor and agreed to return the money if charges were dropped.
In one of the most high-profile cases, Sheikh Ahmad al-Assir was prevented from traveling freely, while various Christian figures competed with to promote rhetoric as to why one citizen should not be allowed to enter areas dominated by those of a different sect. The incident came a week after hundreds of Hezbollah members had travelled to the area with no objection.
On the same day, two men got into a fight in the nearby area of Lassa about the right-of-way. The fight ended with the death of one of the men and his son. When it came to arresting the man responsible, the interior minister, the director general of the ISF and the head of the Gendarmerie were all involved, while the dispute was loaded with sectarian overtones.
Two days later another two men were killed, in a similar dispute. Yet while the incident in Lassa had gained significant nationwide coverage, this incident earned only a few lines. The difference was that the men who had been killed were Syrian, and the alleged killer a Palestinian, and therefore none had political backing.
Possibly most glaring have been recent events in Roumieh, where the security forces have freely admitted that concerns for security pushed them into negotiations with prisoners over the terms and conditions of interrogations. This is, of course, not the first time Roumieh prisoners have shown the upper hand over those supposed to implement the law.
These events, taking place over a matter of days, turn to ridicule the statements of the tourism and finance ministers and the premier that Lebanon is a safe and pleasant destination for tourists and investors alike.
They also force the Lebanese to question how this government can be trusted with their welfare, when it cannot maintain basic security.
This is in fact a frank call for the government to cut their losses, apologize to the rest of the Lebanese and leave the positions of power to those who are able to work above the level of personal politics. Otherwise, they are leaving the country to the law of the jungle.