ATFL Statement: Transparent Beirut Port Blast Investigation Crucial to New Government’s Credibility
Washington, DC, September 30, 2021 (ATFL) – For 14 months, international and domestic investigations into the Beirut Port blast have been obstructed. They should no longer be delayed. In reference to the ongoing domestic investigation, PM Miqati has said that the judge should not be replaced once again, as several former government ministers are insisting.
The American Task Force on Lebanon (ATFL), a leadership organization of Americans of Lebanese descent, believes that the rule of law should prevail and that the case be allowed to go forward. Technically, the decision is now in the Court of Cassation, the highest court in Lebanon under the existing system. It is not a favorable venue for prosecutors of past and present government officials, and it has not been a good example of an independent judiciary since its membership is determined by balancing sectarian interests.
This is the second time that complaints by politicians refusing to answer the summons of the investigating judge have prevailed. Judge Tarek Bitar, the current judge, should receive the backing of the Prime Minister and be supported to carry out his mandate.
As called for by the international community, ATFL believes an independent judiciary and questions of immunity for current or previous members of the government should reflect standards inherent in rule of law principles, and public trust in an independent judiciary system should be promoted. Lebanon and the families of those who perished in the blast deserve no less.
The American Task Force on Lebanon is 501(C)3 nonprofit organization of prominent Americans of Lebanese heritage, who educate for the strengthening of the historic U.S.-Lebanon relationship. The mission and objectives of ATFL shall always be in the best interest of the United States and will promote the national unity, independence, and prosperity of a democratic and multi-sectarian Lebanon.