| 26 February 2024, Monday |

International organizations call on UN to investigate In Beirut Port blast

More than fifty organizations, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, called on the United Nations to establish an international investigation mission for Beirut Port blast, as local investigations did not achieve any progress in ten months.

Lebanon, since the blast on August 4 which killed more than 200 and injured 6,500, and destroyed several neighborhoods in Beirut, has refused to conduct an international probe. Authorities have attributed the blast to the storage of huge amounts of ammonium nitrate for years in one of the harbor’s, without taking any protective measures. However, US and French investigators took part in the initial probe independently.

Almost 53 international, regional, and local human rights organizations, as well as 62 survivors, and victim’s families sent a letter to the United Nations Human Rights Council, saying: “time has come for the Human Rights Council to intervene and listen to the demands of the families of the victims and the Lebanese people for accountability, given that the explosion occurred due to the government’s failure in protecting the right to life.”

The signatories called for “the establishment of an international, independent and impartial investigation mission, such as a one-year fact-finding mission. They considered that first anniversary of the explosion has approached, and the arguments for conducting such an international investigation have grown stronger,” according to what was reported by AFP.”

Human Rights Watch stated that it had documented “several flaws in the domestic investigation,” including “blatant political interference, impunity for senior political officials, and a failure to respect fair trial standards.”

Aya Majzoub, Lebanon researcher at Human Rights Watch, considered that “the Lebanese authorities had more than ten months to demonstrate their willingness and ability to conduct a credible investigation into the catastrophic Beirut explosion, but it failed on all fronts.”

“The Lebanese authorities have obstructed, and delayed the ongoing domestic investigation,” said Lynn Maalouf of Amnesty International.

Last February, Tarek Bitar was appointed lead investigator of the Beirut blast probe.

Bitar told reporters this month that he will start summoning detainees in the coming weeks, after he finalized the technical investigation stage.”

He explained that the investigation “runs on three hypotheses,” namely, the outbreak of a fire by mistake or deliberately, or “air targeting,” noting that the report he received recently from French investigators contributed to the exclusion of one of these hypotheses. Judicial sources reported to AFP at a time that Bitar ruled out the hypothesis of air targeting.

In addition to determining how the explosion occurred, the investigation also involves determining how the ammonium nitrate shipment reached the port of Beirut and why it was left stored for years.

  • Sawt Beirut International