Beirut Port Blast: A Devastating 3rd Anniversary
Legal issues have impeded the domestic investigation into the August 4 explosion. On Friday, Lebanon commemorate the third anniversary of the deadly Beirut port explosion, which left more than 200 people dead, tens of thousands of people injured, and the capital utterly destroyed. Three years later, no senior official has faced consequences, and domestic justice-seeking initiatives have been repeatedly thwarted.
Later on Friday, demonstrations are planned, culminating at 6:07 p.m. on August 4, 2020, the time of the explosion, close to the original blast site. The explosion happened after a sizable stock of ammonium nitrate that had been kept for years at the port caught fire and exploded. The domestic investigation led by Judge Tarek Bitar has repeatedly been hampered by legal challenges, including those from former ministers he has sought to question.
Eyes have been turning more and more to international actions in the absence of local justice. Savaro Ltd, the UK-registered business found accountable by the same court for the explosion, was ordered to pay a total of $1 million to four victims earlier this year. The compensation decision was significant because it established a “strong precedent” for additional lawsuits involving the explosion, according to Paul Naggear, one of the plaintiffs whose daughter Alexandra, 3, was among the explosion’s youngest victims. He made this statement to The National at the time.
And on Thursday, the UN Human Rights Council was urged to form a fact-finding mission into the port explosion of hundreds of human rights organizations, survivors, and families of the deceased. 38 nations released a joint statement earlier this year, read by Australia at the Human Rights Council in Geneva, expressing their concern that the investigation was still ongoing and had been impeded by systemic obstruction, interference, and intimidation.
The joint letter noted that neither the domestic investigation could proceed nor a law guaranteeing the independence of the judiciary in accordance with international standards had been adopted by the Lebanese authorities.