Calls for an International Fact-Finding Committee Rekindled in Wake of Beirut Port Explosion Investigation Challenges

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2023-09-13 | 00:58
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Calls for an International Fact-Finding Committee Rekindled in Wake of Beirut Port Explosion Investigation Challenges
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Calls for an International Fact-Finding Committee Rekindled in Wake of Beirut Port Explosion Investigation Challenges

The demand for the formation of an international fact-finding committee in the case of the Beirut port explosion has returned to the forefront of discussions after a petition was submitted by a committee of lawyers and the families of the victims to the international community to revive this frozen file, which has witnessed an unprecedented obstruction within the fragmented Lebanese judicial system.

This reality is not limited to the Lebanese judiciary alone but extends to include both the political authorities and the complicit governing system, backed by facts and evidence, in the tragedy that befell the Lebanese people on August 4, 2020.
 
Since this demand carries a direct insult to the incapacitated Lebanese state, unable to engage in the actual accountability process, and also serves as a shield for all those involved and obstructing the process, seeking to delay justice and obscure the truth indefinitely, with the premise of inciting the Lebanese streets, which are ready to engage in any political battle.

Therefore, it seems that the demand for the formation of an international fact-finding committee is the last remaining solution for this sensitive political issue. Will the political and judicial authorities attempt to obstruct this international file, as they have done locally?

Toward the International Community

On the evening of Monday, September 11, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, called for international action to investigate the Beirut port explosion on August 4, 2020, condemning the absence of Lebanese accountability for those involved in this case.

Recently, the movements of the victims' families have coincided with the upcoming start of the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly, scheduled to begin after September 15.

For this purpose, a petition has been prepared to be submitted to the United Nations, signed by more than 67 members of the Lebanese Parliament representing the majority of MPs within the Council, as well as several non-governmental organizations, human rights associations, the families of the victims, and the wounded.

The importance of this petition lies in urging the United Nations, the General Assembly, or the Security Council to directly intervene in the port case and work on the formation of an international fact-finding committee. This comes after the Lebanese judicial process came to a halt in 2021 due to judicial disputes and political interventions
.
International lawyer Kamil Abu Sleiman explained the importance of this petition to "Al-Modon." 

He believes that things have started to take the right course, and this petition will be presented to the United Nations, Security Council members, and the General Assembly.

The next phase involves waiting for an initiative from any country to endorse this petition, followed by obtaining international approval to establish an international committee. 

Abu Sleiman emphasizes that this step is positive because some countries have already begun to declare the necessity of forming an international committee to achieve justice for the people more than three years after the explosion at the port. It is certain that the process will be lengthy, considering that the international committee will differ from the international court, and therefore, Lebanon will not bear any financial burdens.

In a related context, the Houston court in Texas has announced the commencement of investigations into the company "Spectrum," which chartered the ship "Rhosus" and transported ammonium nitrate to Lebanon. 

This follows a complaint filed by a group of Lebanese-American victims, numbering around 9 individuals, in July 2022, demanding financial compensation of up to $250 million due to the risk to their lives.

The course of this court will be similar to the civil lawsuit filed by the Prosecution Office of the Bar Association on August 2, 2021, on behalf of a group of victims' families and those affected, seeking financial compensation before the Supreme Court of Justice in the UK against the company "Savaro Limited," responsible for the ammonium nitrate shipment. 

The court issued a judicial verdict holding the company fully responsible and determining the compensation awarded to the victims, which reached one million US dollars.

International Movements

Observers and monitors of recent actions by some European countries regarding the port case appear to show that these countries have emphasized the necessity of establishing an international committee. 

One notable figure, Christophe Grudler, a Member of the European Parliament, mentioned this during his visit to Beirut, stating that "Lebanon urgently needs international assistance." 

He announced proposals to be discussed within the European Parliament, urging the need for an international committee. Subsequently, the European Parliament emphasized the necessity of establishing an international fact-finding mission and imposing sanctions on those involved in August. 

In addition, 38 countries in the United Nations Human Rights Council called on March 7 to continue investigating the port explosion.

In any case, international intervention in the port case may be important to reveal those responsible and hold them accountable, given the Lebanese state's inability to address any sensitive issues that have occurred within its borders. 

However, it is essential today to break the deadlock of the port file locally. This responsibility primarily falls on the fragmented Lebanese judiciary, which is responsible for reviving the port file to allow the investigative judge to continue his inquiries.
 

Press Highlights

International

Fact-Finding

Committee

Rekindled

Beirut

Explosion

Investigation

Challenges

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