Responding to the joint statement delivered by Australia at the Human Rights Council today, which calls on the Lebanese authorities to ensure a swift, independent, and credible investigation into the Beirut port explosion, Aya Majzoub, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa, said:
“The joint statement issued at the Human Rights Council today confirms the world’s commitment to ensuring justice for the deadly Beirut port explosion and shows that the international community stands with victims’ families and survivors. It also sends a clear message to the Lebanese authorities that their shameful efforts to impede and subvert the domestic investigation have not gone unnoticed.
“Victims’ families, survivors, and the people of Lebanon deserve justice, truth and reparations. The Lebanese authorities must urgently allow the domestic inquiry to proceed without any political meddling, and ensure the investigation remains impartial at all times.
“Absent meaningful changes soon, we urge the international community to swiftly escalate their response by establishing an international fact-finding mission into the explosion.”
At least 38 states signed a joint statement at the 52nd session of the Human Rights Council today expressing concern over Lebanon’s delayed investigation into the Beirut blast. They called on the authorities to “uphold the right of the victims to effective remedy, including adequate, effective and prompt reparation for harm suffered.” They also urged the authorities to “abide by its international human rights obligations to take all necessary measures to safeguard, in law and in practice, the full independence and impartiality of the Lebanese judiciary.”
More than two and a half years since the explosion in Beirut’s port, which killed over 220 people, the domestic investigation has stagnated due to repeated obstructions by the Lebanese authorities and attempts to replace the lead investigator, Judge Tarek Bitar. Judge Bitar has charged multiple high-ranking politicians and security officials.
Since the explosion, Amnesty International and other rights groups have documented a range of procedural and systemic flaws in the domestic investigation, including political interference, immunity for high-level politicians, and failure to respect due process and fair trial standards.