| 4 March 2024, Monday |

Rights groups urge U.N. probe mission for Beirut port explosion

A group of regional and international rights groups on Tuesday called on member states of the U.N. Human Rights Council to set up an investigative mission into last year’s massive deadly explosion at the Port of Beirut.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) announced that the call was made in a joint letter by 53 Lebanese, regional, and international groups and individuals, as well as 62 survivors and families of the victims.

HRW said it documented many flaws in the domestic probe of the blast- including flagrant political meddling, violations of due process and lack of respect for fair trial standards.

On August 4, 2020, a large explosion, caused by improperly stored ammonium nitrate, occurred at the Port of Beirut, killing at least 200 people, injuring more than 6,000 and rendering 300,000 others homeless.

Large sections of the port and its infrastructure were destroyed, including most of Beirut’s grain reserves, and billions of dollars in damages were inflicted across the city.

Aya Majzoub, Lebanon researcher at Human Rights Watch, said “Lebanese authorities have had over 10 months to demonstrate that they are willing and capable of conducting a credible investigation.”

“But they have failed on all accounts,” Majzoub added.

Six days in the aftermath of the explosion, the Lebanese cabinet referred the Beirut blast case to the country’s Judicial Council, a special court with no appeals process. No indictments have been issued thus far.