The struggle for justice for the victims of Beirut’s 2020 port blast is not over. Protests continue by families and friends of those who have lost loved ones in what has been recorded as one of the largest non-nuclear explosions in history, as do families whose relatives are arrested while awaiting trial. has been done.
Observers denounce the lack of accountability by the government in its handling of the national disaster, even as two Lebanese lawmakers charged with regard to the disaster won re-election to parliament.
Improperly stored ammonium nitrate at the port of Beirut exploded on August 4, 2020, killing more than 215 people and injuring nearly 7,000, while wrecking the Lebanese capital.
Many Lebanese blame the blasts on security and political officials who failed to enforce security regulations. But now, almost two years later, no one has been held accountable.
According to Lebanon’s national news agency, the families of those arrested in the blasts staged a sit-in in front of the Justice Ministry on Friday, demanding an “immediate fair trial to allow them to prove their innocence”.
Meanwhile, the families and friends of the victims continued their protest for the demand for justice, but blamed several political power brokers for actively disrupting the investigation, preventing the judge appointed to do his job, and calling for an international investigation. allege to do.
Two Lebanese lawmakers from the Hezbollah-backed Shia Amal movement, Ali Hassan Khalil and Ghazi Zaiter, have called for Judge Tarek Bitter to stop conducting their investigation, which has now been suspended. Both have been charged in connection with the blast and yet they were both recently re-elected to parliament.
Lama Fakih directs Human Rights Watch in Beirut. She recently told the Carnegie Middle East Center that the case cannot resume until new judicial appointments are made under a new prime minister and cabinet.
Fakih said, “There is concern that this is going to take a long time because historically it has taken more than a year to form the government.” There are very real barriers to getting justice domestically for the victims of the blast. And that’s why we and others, including the families of the victims, are calling for an international fact-finding mission to investigate the incidents. ,
Kim Ghattas, a non-resident senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, says she hopes Lebanon’s new parliament will deal with the serious crises that beset Lebanon, including responsibility for the port blast.
“Accountability is the key to everything, whether it is the accountability for what happened at the port, who was responsible at various levels, whether it is the matter of accountability that brought the country to its knees financially, it is really something that the heart Should be in the work of Members of Parliament,” Ghattas said.
Observers blamed the Lebanese authorities for constantly isolating judges investigating the blast and halting procedures when called for questioning, thus obstructing the course of justice.
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