(Beirut) – Thirty-eight countries condemned the widespread obstruction and interference in Lebanon’s domestic investigation on August 4, 2020, at the United Nations Human Rights Council on March 7, 2020, Human Rights Watch and Legal Agenda said today. Lebanese authorities should act urgently to make necessary judicial reforms and remove other obstacles that undermine the domestic investigation into the blast.
In a joint statement made by Australia Before the UN Human Rights Council, 38 states called on Lebanon to “take all necessary measures to protect, in law and practice, the full independence and impartiality of the Lebanese judiciary”, and to ensure that “swift, independent, There should be a fair, credible and transparent investigation into the blast.
The investigation into the blast has been suspended for over a year.
“Domestic investigations over the past two years have been repeatedly obstructed and victims of the Beirut port explosion are still denied justice,” said Ghida Frangieh, head of litigation at The Legal Agenda. “It is time for Lebanon to end the cycle of legal impunity and strengthen its judicial institutions.”
Over the years, Lebanese and international rights groups have Document Criticized political interference with the judiciary and its lack of independence, which has allowed a culture of impunity to flourish in Lebanon.
In 2018, the legal agenda Presented A draft law to Parliament on judicial independence and transparency that meets international fair trial standards. amendment to draft law made by the Administration and Justice Committee of Parliament and suggested The Minister of Justice failed to meet Lebanon’s international legal obligations on a number of important matters.
Lebanon’s parliament must now urgently review and pass a draft law that adheres to international standards on judicial independence and transparency.
Reforms should also be made to amend the Lebanese Code of Judicial Procedures to eliminate abuses of the judicial process.
Lebanese politician who is a suspect in Beirut port blast case filed over 25 cases Demand to dismiss the lead investigator, Judge Tarek Bitar, and other judges involved in the case, causing the investigation to be repeatedly suspended while the cases were adjudicated. The inquiry was adjourned to December 23, 2021, as a result of the latest series of legal challenges filed against Judge Bitter.
revisionist Article 751 of the country’s Civil Procedure Code and Article 52 code of criminal procedure In line with international standards, it will ensure that judicial investigations are no longer automatically suspended when such suits are filed against the investigating judges.
In addition to these long-awaited legal reforms, the organizations also called on the Lebanese Prosecutor General, Ghassan Ouedt, to follow through. judicial decision To recuse him from the matter and to desist from interfering in the domestic investigation. Ok separated He himself was recused from the case in December 2020 after one of his relatives was charged in the case, and his decision was accepted by the Court of Cassation.
On January 23, 2023, Judge Bitar attempted to reopen the investigation and Summoned Owaidat for inquiry in the matter. Two days later, Ovedat ordered Release of all suspects detained in connection with the devastating explosion in the port of Beirut, a decision Beirut Bar AssociationThe Lebanese Judges Associationand Lebanese Alliance for the Independence of the Judiciary Criticized as illegal.
The August 4, 2020, Beirut port explosion was one of the largest non-nuclear explosions in history, killing at least 220 people, injuring over 7,000, and causing extensive property damage. an intense Investigation Human Rights Watch found that the disaster stemmed from the government’s failure to protect the fundamental right to life and pointed to the possible involvement of senior political and security officials in Lebanon.
The organizations said UN member states should support justice for the victims of the August 4 blast by taking further action at the Human Rights Council. The Human Rights Council should pass a resolution establishing and dispatching without delay an independent and impartial fact-finding mission to the Beirut blast. The joint statement of the 38 member states delivered today is an important step in the right direction, as it shows that many governments, including many of Lebanon’s donors and supporters, are losing patience with the government.
“From Australia to Costa Rica to Japan, governments around the world stood up today to protect the rights of the victims of the Beirut port explosion, but there is more work to be done,” lama faqihsaid the Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “Time is running out for an effective investigation. Member states should support a resolution in the Human Rights Council to establish a fact-finding mission as soon as possible.”