Lebanon: Only an international investigation can set the course for justice for Beirut blast victims

One month on since the deadly blast in Beirut’s port, it has been increasingly clear that the processes the Lebanese authorities have set up to look into the tragic events of 4 August are neither independent nor impartial, Amnesty International said today in detailed statement. The organization reiterates its call for an international fact-finding mechanism to guarantee victims’ rights to truth, justice and remedy.

More than a month after the explosion, every step, measure or statement taken thus far, particularly by the highest-ranking officials in the country, have made it clear that the authorities have no intention whatsoever of fulfilling their responsibilities of conducting an effective, transparent and impartial investigation.
Lynn Maalouf

Since the tragic explosion, which killed at least 190 people, injured more than 6,500 others and left some 300,000 displaced or homeless, calls for an international investigation have been made by victims and their relatives and other human rights organizations. Lebanese authorities, including the president, have rejected them. Accountability was also among the key calls made by the thousands of protesters who streamed onto the streets four days after the explosion and were met by excessive use of force by the military and security forces, leading to hundreds of injuries compounding the thousands already injured by the explosion.

Lynn Maalouf, Acting Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International said:  

“More than a month after the explosion, every step, measure or statement taken thus far, particularly by the highest-ranking officials in the country, have made it clear that the authorities have no intention whatsoever of fulfilling their responsibilities of conducting an effective, transparent and impartial investigation.

Considering the decades-long history of impunity in Lebanon and the scale of the tragedy, an international fact-finding mechanism is the only way to guarantee the rights of victims to truth, justice and remedy.
Lynn Maalouf

“The government referred the investigation to the Judicial Council, a court whose proceedings inherently lack independence and impartiality and fail to meet international fair standards. Extraordinarily for a case in which there are such serious allegations against state bodies, it does not have the jurisdiction to prosecute sitting officials, including the president and ministers.

“Considering the decades-long history of impunity in Lebanon and the scale of the tragedy, an international fact-finding mechanism is the only way to guarantee the rights of victims to truth, justice and remedy. This investigation should be mandated to assess responsibilities in relation to the explosion and the resulting deaths, injuries and destruction and to make its findings public. It should be thorough, independent, impartial and transparent.”