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HRW calls for independent, international inquiry into Beirut blast

February 4, 2021 at 9:49 am

Saint George Hospital University Medical Center also known as Al Roum Hospital is seen damaged after a fire at a warehouse with explosives led to massive blasts on 4th August, in Beirut, Lebanon on 17 August 2020. [Mahmut Geldi – Anadolu Agency]

Human Rights Watch (HRW) yesterday called for an independent, international investigation into the Beirut port explosion which killed more than 200 people and injured at least 6,000 others.

The call comes after Lebanese authorities suspended investigations into the incident on  17 December after two former ministers charged in the case filed a motion asking Lebanon’s Court of Cassation to replace Judge Fadi Sawan who is heading the probe.

“The stalled domestic investigation, riddled with serious due process violations, as well as political leaders’ attempts to stop the investigation reinforce the need for an independent, international inquiry,” HRW said in a statement.

The statement quoted HRW Lebanon researcher, Aya Majzoub, as saying: “Lebanese authorities publicly promised that the investigation into the blast that killed more than 200 people and devastated half the city would take five days, but six months later, the public is still waiting for answers.”

“Moreover, the court handling the case appears to have run roughshod over detained defendants’ due process rights, signaling that it is unable or unwilling to deliver justice,” she added.

Human Rights Watch has called on the Lebanese authorities to immediately “pass bills to guarantee the independence of the judiciary and to ensure that criminal procedures meet international standards.”

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