Amnesty International yesterday accused the Lebanese authorities of "obstructing" the quest for justice in the investigation into the Beirut port explosion which killed nearly 200 people and left 300,000 others homeless one year ago.
"Throughout the year, the Lebanese authorities' relentless efforts to shield officials from scrutiny have repeatedly hampered the course of the investigation. Authorities dismissed the first judge appointed to the investigation after he summoned political figures for questioning, and have so far rejected the new investigative judge's requests to lift MPs' immunity and to question senior members of the security forces in connection with the tragedy," the rights watchdog said in a statement.
It went on to slam the Lebanese government for "tragically" failing to protect the lives of its people, just as it had failed for so long to protect basic socio-economic rights.
"In blocking the judge's attempts to summon political officials, the authorities have struck yet another blow to the people of Lebanon."
Given the scale of this tragedy, it is astounding to see how far the Lebanese authorities are prepared to go to shield themselves from scrutiny.
The statement quoted Lynn Maalouf, deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International, as saying: "Lebanese authorities promised a swift investigation; instead they have brazenly blocked and stalled justice at every turn, despite a tireless campaign for justice and criminal accountability by survivors and families of victims."
Lebanese authorities have not commented on Amnesty's report.