The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk said Monday he was in favor of an international investigation into the explosion three years ago in the port of Beirut, deploring that "no responsibility has been been established" so far in this case.
“In Lebanon, three years after the explosion in Beirut which left more than 200 dead and 7,000 injured, including more than 1,000 children, no responsibility has been established,” noted Volker Türk before the Human Rights Council. Man.
"On the contrary, many concerns have emerged about interference in the investigation, in a context of serious economic and social crisis and weak governance. It is therefore perhaps time to consider a fact-finding mission international body to examine the human rights violations linked to this tragedy," he added.
The blast, one of the largest non-nuclear explosions in history, was caused by a fire in a warehouse where tons of ammonium nitrate were carelessly stored despite repeated warnings to top officials.
A lawsuit has been filed on behalf of American victims of the explosion against the American-Norwegian geophysical services company, TGS ASA. She owned the British company Spectrum Geo, which chartered the M/V Rhosus, the ship that carried ammonium nitrate that was later unloaded in Beirut and ultimately exploded.
The plaintiffs are seeking $250 million in damages, as well as a trial by jury.
In late August, a Texas judge denied a motion filed by TGS ASA to have the suit dismissed.
On the third anniversary of the explosion, on August 4, hundreds of Lebanese marched to the port to accuse the political class of obstructing the investigation.
The day before this demonstration, 300 NGOs including Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International, as well as families of victims, reiterated their call for the establishment of an international commission of inquiry.
“For us this is a very important step, which comes after a long lobbying effort,” rejoiced Paul Naggear, commenting on Mr. Türk’s remarks. Her three-year-old daughter was killed in the explosion.
“This is a very positive development which aims to be materialized ideally next March with a resolution,” he told AFP.
"This commission, if indeed it comes to support the local investigation, can help us to have access to information (...) that we are unable to obtain", reacted for her part Mariana Fodoulian, who lost her sister in the tragedy.
In Lebanon, a first judge in charge of the investigation in 2020 had to throw in the towel after indicting former Prime Minister Hassan Diab and three former ministers.
His successor, Tarek Bitar, in turn attacked political leaders but Parliament refused to lift the immunity of accused deputies, the Ministry of the Interior opposed the interrogation of high-ranking officers rank and security forces refused to execute arrest warrants.
He was forced to suspend his investigation for 13 months, due to dozens of lawsuits against him from political officials and other intense pressure.
Last January, he returned to work to everyone's surprise. He was then prosecuted for insubordination by the attorney general after indicting several high-ranking figures, a first in the history of Lebanon.
The prosecutor also ordered the release of the 17 people detained without trial since the explosion.
The US State Department, for its part, considered that “the lack of progress” in the investigation was “unacceptable”, emphasizing “the need for judicial reform”.
11/09/2023 18:51:42 - Geneva (AFP) © 2023 AFP