On Wednesday, August 3, 2022, Human Rights Watch, Accountability Now, Daraj Media, the Tahrir Institute for Middle
East Policy (TIMEP), and the Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED) jointly hosted an online briefing to highlight domestic and international efforts to seek accountability for the Beirut blast two years on, focusing on the pathways to justice and the role that diverse actors are playing to dismantle impunity, from everyday citizens to investigative journalists and lawyers, featuring:
- Zena Wakim, Accountability Now
- Aya Majzoub, Human Rights Watch
- Alia Ibrahim, Daraj
- Tania Daou, Lawyer and Plaintiff in Texas Court Case
- Hussein Cheaito, TIMEP
- Mai El-Sadany, TIMEP (moderator)
|The Beirut blast – one of the largest non-nuclear explosions in history – was the result of decades of government mismanagement and corruption at the port. The explosion, which resulted from the detonation of tonnes of ammonium nitrate improperly stored for years at the port, pulverized the port, damaged over half the city, and killed at least 220 people.
Although Lebanese leaders vowed to swiftly investigate and hold those responsible to account, the domestic investigation into the August 4, 2020 explosion has failed to meet international standards and has been suspended since December 2021 due to political interference. Victims and survivors of the blast are now seeking accountability in the domestic courts of other countries. On July 11, 2022, a group of victims, supported by Accountability Now, filed a claim in Texas against a US company that entered into a series of highly profitable but suspicious contracts with the Lebanese government and which chartered the Rhosus, the vessel carrying the military-grade ammonium nitrate, to Beirut’s port.
This solutions-oriented discussion addressed how accountability is being pursued tangibly and at various levels. It underscored, for example, the role of investigative journalists in uncovering critical evidence, the ways in which evidence can be used to seek justice in courts globally and to challenge impunity via targeted sanctions, the advocacy efforts to organize victims and bring about an independent investigation through the UN Human Rights Council, and the domestic efforts to challenge systemic corruption written into law and practice at home.
Watch the briefing here: