Lebanon: UN Human Rights Council must establish probe into Beirut blast

In a letter published today, 53 Lebanese, regional, and international rights groups and individuals, as well as 62 survivors and families of victims and firefighters called on member states at the UN Human Rights Council to dispatch a mission to investigate the 4 August 2020 Beirut port explosion.

Despite initial pledges to conduct an investigation and announce results “within five days”, over the past 10 months the Lebanese authorities have obstructed, evaded, and delayed the ongoing domestic investigation. Lebanese organizations including Legal Agenda along with international organizations including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have documented a range of procedural and systemic flaws which prevent Lebanon from meeting its international obligations to provide redress to victims. These include flagrant political interference, a lack of respect for fair trial standards, and due process violations as well as immunity for high-level political officials.

“The Beirut blast was a tragedy of historic proportions, arising from the government’s failure to protect the most basic of rights – the right to life. The Lebanese state’s early promises of a credible and timely investigation have - unsurprisingly - proven to be deceptive, leaving no other domestic recourse for the thousands of victims to seek justice,” said Lynn Maalouf, Deputy Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

The Beirut blast was a tragedy of historic proportions, arising from the government’s failure to protect the most basic of rights – the right to life.
Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International

“The Human Rights Council must establish an investigative or fact-finding mission into the blast to identify whether conduct by the state caused or contributed to unlawful deaths, and what steps need to be taken to ensure effective remedy to victims.

“The families of those who died, the thousands of people who were injured and harmed, and the hundreds of thousands who had their lives upended and rights to housing, health, and property violated deserve nothing less.”