Montreal, Canada - September 30, 2004

September 2004 - Vol. 13

RCPL September 2004 Newsletter includes the following items:

1.
RCPL holds workshop to learn from Canada’s diversity to help Lebanon build a system that capitalizes on its diversity 
2.
RCPL conducts a study about the employment integration of Lebanese in Quebec
3. The United Nations Security Council passes resolution 1559 on Lebanon
4. Al-Qaeda suspect dies in the custody of Lebanese Security forces
5. Former Lebanese Cabinet minister wounded in Beirut car bombing


1. RCPL holds workshop to learn from Canada’s diversity to help Lebanon build a system that capitalizes on its diversity

On September 18, 2004, Canadian and Lebanese experts gathered in Montreal to brainstorm ways that can improve Lebanon’s political system. The workshop is entitled « Learning from Canada’s diversity to help Lebanon build a system that capitalizes on its diversity ». The workshop gathered these leading academic experts of the Canadian and Lebanese system to identify the winning elements of the Canadian political system, and to transpose these elements onto Lebanon. 

Both Canada and Lebanon are considered pluralistic societies, with distinctive systems that attempt to satisfy their different groups. Canada’s groups are characterized by language differences, notably English and French, while Lebanon’s groups are characterized by their religious identities. 

The workshop produced 8 recommendations for Lebanon, some of which were:
1. Pursue the implementation of key tenets of the Taef Accord
2. Enlarge the non-confessional legal-political space 
3. Promote discussion of cross-cutting issues such as social justice through broad based civil society organizations 


2. RCPL conducts a study about the employment integration of Lebanese in Quebec

The Quebec Ministry of Citizen Relations and Immigration is implementing measures to improve the participation of immigrants and cultural communities in the labour market in Quebec. For this, a working group presided by MP Diane Legault (Chambly) was formed in order to identify difficulties encountered by these groups to make their academic credentials and professional experience recognized. At the Ministry’s invitation, RCPL (Rassemblement Canadien pour le Liban) is conducting a research to identify the problems experienced by immigrants and Canadians of Lebanese origin, in order to make appropriate recommendations to the Ministry. RCPL urges you to participate in this study by filling out a short (2-page) questionnaire, available at
http://www.rcplonline.org/project_employment_eng.htm.


3. The United Nations Security Council passes resolution 1559 on Lebanon

In September, the United Nations Security Council passed the resolution 1559. This resolution calls for the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Lebanon and warns against foreign interference in Beirut's presidential elections. It also calls for the disbanding of all militias. The 6 year term of President Lahoud was extended for 3 more years by the Lebanese parliament, which passed an amendment of the constitution.

RCPL calls the Canadian government to promote a dialogue between the Lebanese, Syrian and United Nations to develop a plan to implement the UNSC resolution 1559.


4. Al-Qaeda suspect dies in the custody of Lebanese Security forces 

Lebanese Security forces cracked down on a network of alleged Al-Qaeda operatives in Lebanon. Among the arrested was 31-year-old Isma'il Mohammad al-Khatib. Security forces declared that M. Khatib was dead due to a grave heart attack; his family however suspects he was tortured to death.

RCPL is concerned about the treatment of suspects and prisoners in Lebanon. RCPL calls the Canadian government to pressure the Lebanese authorities to respect human rights of their citizens, and launch an independent investigation that will determine the cause of death and punish the human rights abusers.


5. Attempted assassination of former Lebanese Cabinet minister in Beirut car bombing

A car bomb exploded in Beirut early Friday, wounding former Lebanese Cabinet minister Marwan Hamadeh and killing his driver, security officials said. Hamadeh is a member of the Progressive Socialist Party, headed by Walid Jumblatt. The PSP voted against extending President Emile Lahoud's term.

RCPL is concerned about this development, recommends that the Canadian government pressures Lebanon to conduct an independent investigation into the assassination attempt.

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