This blog of the Lebanese Center for Human Rights (CLDH) aims at granting the public opinion access to all information related to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon : daily press review in english, french and arabic ; UN documents, etc...

Ce blog du
Centre Libanais des droits humains (CLDH) a pour objectif de rendre accessible à l'opinion publique toute l'information relative au Tribunal Spécial pour le Liban : revue de presse quotidienne en anglais, francais et arabe ; documents onusiens ; rapports, etc...


Lebanon backs UN Hariri tribunal

BBC News - Lebanon backs UN Hariri tribunal,13 november 2006.
Lebanon's cabinet has approved draft UN plans for setting up an international tribunal to try suspects in the killing of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Syria has been implicated in the bombing that killed Mr Hariri in February 2005, but denies involvement. The cabinet's decision came hours after the resignation of another minister - the sixth to quit since Saturday. Most are allied to Hezbollah but the Shia movement has denied accusations it was trying to block the tribunal. Environment Minister Yacoub Sarraf, a Christian, became the sixth to resign on Monday, following two of his Hezbollah colleagues and three others allied to Hezbollah. These resignations meant there was no Shia representation in the cabinet. The resignations came after demands for a greater role in government for Hezbollah were rejected.
Hezbollah demands
The latest draft of the tribunal plan has not been made public, but it is thought that the tribunal will sit outside Lebanon, possibly in Cyprus. The tribunal's statutes will rely on a mixture of Lebanese and international law, and Lebanese and international judges will sit on the tribunal.
It is believed that the death sentence will not apply in the case of guilty verdicts. "Here we are today on the road to revealing the truth and achieving justice through the court with an international character," Lebanese PM Fouad Siniora said as he announced the unanimous decision of his remaining 18 cabinet ministers. President Emile Lahoud, a pro-Syrian, said on Sunday that as a result of the resignations, the government had lost its legitimacy - but constitutional experts have disputed his interpretation of the situation.
Sectarian dispute
The cabinet, normally made up Christian and Muslim ministers in equal numbers, has retained the two-thirds of its members necessary to make up a quorum. Mr Siniora has not accepted the resignations, but the ministers insist they will stand by their decisions. Correspondents say the fact that Mr Sarraf is a Christian, strengthens the Shias' bid for a larger presence in cabinet, and reduces the sectarian nature of the dispute. Hezbollah, which has portrayed its 34-day conflict with Israel in the summer as a victory, is seeking a one-third-plus-one share of cabinet portfolios for itself and its allies, giving them an effective veto power on government decisions.
Another two ministers would need to resign for the current government to fall. Leaders of the anti-Syrian parliamentary majority said the resignations revealed a "hidden plot" by Syria and Iran to stop the establishment of the Hariri tribunal and foil UN resolution 1701, which halted the conflict between Hezbollah and Israel in August.

January 7, 2006 - FranceTV - Affaire Hariri: Khaddam témoigne devant la commission d’enquête

Le chef de la commission d’enquête de l'Onu a recueilli le témoignage de l'ex vice-président syrien concernant l’assassinat de l’ancien Premier ministre libanais.

Khaddam a indiqué à l'AFP avoir rencontré vendredi après-midi le procureur allemand, en passe d’être remplacé par le magistrat belge Serge Brammertz . « J'ai reçu hier après-midi la commission d'enquête sur l'assassinat du martyr Hariri. Detlev Mehlis m'a posé un certain nombre de questions sur l'assassinat de Rafic Hariri. J'ai répondu en fonction des renseignements dont je dispose. J'ai parlé de faits précis, il appartient à la commission de les évaluer ».

L’ancien numéro 2 du régime, qui exclut de demander l’asile politique en France afin de conserver sa liberté de parole, a refusé de révéler le contenu de l’entretien. Ses révélations risquent de peser lourd contre la Syrie, soupçonnée d'être le commanditaire de l'assassinat de Rafic Hariri. Khaddam a révélé au début du mois que Bachar el Assad avait menacé directement l'ancien Premier ministre de mort, s’il ne se pliait pas à sa volonté.

Par ailleurs, reconnaissant implicitement les méthodes du régime auquel il a appartenu pendant 30 ans, il a ajouté :"J'aurais été assassiné si j'avais fait mes déclarations lorsque j'étais encore à Damas». Abdel Halim Khaddam qui souhaite un renversement rapide de Bachar el Assad par une "intifada populaire" vit depuis quelques mois à Paris, après avoir démissionné de toutes ses fonctions en Syrie.

Lebanon’s Groundbreaking Trial

BBC - Lebanon’s Groundbreaking Trial, April 21, 2006

By Kim Ghattas
After more than 30 years of political assassinations going unpunished, Lebanon finally seems to be embarking on a new era of accountability. In recent weeks, the UN Security Council has decided to set up a special tribunal on the murder of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. The decision makes it clear not only that the time for impunity is over, but more importantly that chief UN investigator Serge Brammertz believes he has enough evidence to put someone on trial. The international court will be the first to try a crime described as "terrorist" by the UN. While other special tribunals have dealt with war crimes and crimes against humanity, like in Sierra Leone or Cambodia, it will be the first time that international justice tackles a political crime that targeted a specific person.
Syrian denial
For those who dismissed the UN investigation as a politicised affair meant to frame Damascus in the Hariri murder, this is a sobering development. On 30 March, the UN Security Council unanimously voted to authorise Secretary General Kofi Annan to start negotiations with Beirut to establish the UN-backed tribunal in the Hariri murder. The former Lebanese prime minister, a self-made billionaire, was killed on 14 February 2005, along with 20 others in a massive blast on Beirut's seafront. The assassination was widely blamed on Syria, but President Bashar al-Assad repeatedly denied that his country had anything to do with the murder. Mr Assad did say, however, that if any Syrian was to be found to be involved he would be brought to justice in Syria. But with the establishment of the special court, a domestic Syrian trial would not be acceptable to the international community.
Second report
So far no Syrian suspects have been named in the investigation, even though the first report issued by the UN team implicated top Syrian and Lebanese intelligence officials for planning and implementing the murder. Four of Lebanon's once feared top-security chiefs, all allies of Damascus, have been in jail since last summer on charges of "murder, attempted murder and carrying out a terrorist act" in connection with the killing of Hariri. The investigation continues and is expected to last until at least mid-June when Mr Brammertz, a Belgian prosecutor and deputy prosecutor of the Hague-based International Criminal Court, is due to present his second report into the murder. The tribunal for the Hariri murder was approved in record time. In December, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 1644 acknowledging Lebanon's request to set up a special tribunal. The political context of the crime and the scrutiny Syria has been under means that the international community is particularly interested in speeding up this process. After the first six months of the investigation under Mr Brammetz' predecessor, Detlev Mehlis of Germany, which were high in drama, the probe has become more low-key. The Belgian prosecutor appears to be busy with building a case based on the evidence gathered so far, and media reports say good progress is being made. But the UN team is still waiting to meet the Syrian president.
New instrument
There is still a lot of work to be done before the court is established. A team of legal experts led by UN legal counsel Nicolas Michel is due in Beirut over the next few weeks to discuss the details. The special court is expected to be a hybrid, with Lebanese and foreign judges to ensure impartiality. This is a relatively new instrument of criminal law that has already been used in Sierra Leone for example. The judges would use a mix of Lebanese and international law, but the death penalty which is available in Lebanon would not be applied. The location of the court is still undecided, although it is certain to be outside Lebanon because of security concerns. Cyprus has been suggested because of its proximity to the country - this would also enable the Lebanese to feel closer to the process and it would help control the costs involved. But some legal experts in Lebanon believe The Hague would lend more credibility to the trial and has the necessary infrastructure and expertise in dealing with such courts, unlike Cyprus. Estimates for the running costs of the tribunal vary, but they are thought to be about $25m year with no clear indication of how many years the court would have to remain in place. Lebanon has pledged to secure the funding, but is bound to face hurdles in the process. The formation of a court to try the killers of Rafik Hariri is likely to be a learning experience for both Lebanon and the UN.

UN Paves Way Toward Trial of Hariri Assassins

Daily Star - UN Paves Way Toward Trial of Hariri Assassins, March 30, 2006
By Jerome Mayer - Cantu
The United Nations Security Council on Wednesday unanimously adopted a French-drafted resolution to commence formal negotiations between UN chief Kofi Annan and the Lebanese government on the establishment of a tribunal to try the killers of former Premier Rafik Hariri.
In a closed-door session, the 15-member panel voted to take the final step toward establishing the hybrid court; it will now be up to Lebanese authorities and Kofi Annan to determine the final details of the tribunal. A draft resolution sponsored by the U.S., the U.K., and France was circulated to the Security Council this week. It affirmed the international community's desire to establish a hybrid tribunal along the lines drafted by Lebanese and UN authorities. According to a Lebanese judicial source, the tribunal's "international character" will primarily mean that the judge panel overseeing the trials will consist of three international judges selected by the UN and two Lebanese judges selected by the Lebanese government. This will give international judges the ultimate say, as they have enjoyed in previous hybrid tribunals. The draft affirms that those behind the "terrorist" bombing that killed Hariri must be brought to justice, while respecting the sovereignty and wishes of Lebanon. The draft declares that the Security Council is willing to "assist Lebanon in the search for the truth and in holding all those involved in this terrorist attack responsible." Lebanese Justice Minister Charles Rizk has previously argued that the tribunal should operate under Lebanese law. But international law will take precedence in cases of disagreement between the two. The judicial source said that the tribunal will not use the death penalty, as it is allowed under Lebanese law but forbidden under international law. The source said that certain countries on the UN Security Council have opposed any expansion of the tribunal's mandate to include other crimes, such as the assassinations of anti-Syrian journalists Gebran Tueni and Samir Kassir. Both Druze leader MP Walid Jumblatt and the head of the UN team investigating Hariri's assassination, Serge Brammertz, have said that the tribunal could expand to include the prosecution of the series of high-profile crimes committed in Lebanon over the past 18 months. The source suggested that the trial would likely be held in Cyprus in order to minimize costs, especially costs regarding the transportation of witnesses and suspects. This comes contrary to public statements made earlier this month by Telecommunications Minister Marwan Hamade that the court would take place in either Geneva or Vienna. The UN draft resolution leaves undecided the formation of a financing mechanism, which may be the most important factor determining the efficient and timely progress of the trial.

Lebanon’s Experiment with a Hybrid Tribunal

Daily Star - Lebanon’s Experiment with a Hybrid Tribunal, March 18, 2006

By Jerome Mayer-Cantu
The UN Security Council is scheduled to receive a report early next week from Undersecretary General for Legal Affairs Nicolas Michel on the progress made in establishing an international tribunal to try those accused of former Lebanese Premier Rafik Hariri's murder. It has also been reported that Secretary General Kofi Annan is to hold talks with Lebanese officials this month on forming the tribunal. Based on other international trials in the world in recent history, The Daily Star looks at the probable form of the International-Lebanese Tribunal. Lebanon has taken one step closer toward the establishment of a tribunal to try those responsible for the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Telecommunications Minister Marwan Hamade announced on March 9 after a meeting in New York with UN officials that the court would begin its proceedings in June and would be based in either Vienna or Geneva. Lebanese government officials and UN representatives report that they have drafted an agreement outlining the tribunal's shape, jurisdiction and mandate. Lebanese authorities have asked for a trial with an "international character" in order to give the tribunal international assistance and attention, in the hopes of avoiding the influence or pressures stemming from Lebanon's tumultuous politics. Hamade announced that a Lebanese judge will not lead the court, but is not yet known whether the prosecution and defense will be led by Lebanese nationals or by international staff. While most details are still in negotiation, one fact is clear: the court will be a "hybrid" tribunal, a relatively new, experimental instrument of criminal law. A hybrid tribunal is a court in which both international judges and local judges sit side-by-side, drawing their decisions from a blend of both local and international laws. In the coming months, UN and Lebanese officials must determine the precise legal system upon which judicial opinions will be based, as well as the tribunal's procedural rules, which concern the admissibility of evidence, witness testimony, and criminal sentencing. The Lebanese court will differ greatly from all previous hybrid tribunals in that it is the first to address a political assassination rather than war crimes on a larger scale. While its original objective is to try those responsible for the assassination of Rafik Hariri, both MP Walid Jumblatt and the Brammertz Report have mentioned the possibility of expanding its mandate to include the prosecution of those behind the spate of bombings and explosions that have rocked Lebanon for the past 18 months. Based on the experience of other hybrid tribunals, some predict that the Lebanese court may face serious difficulties. David Cohen, founder of the Berkeley War Crimes Center, which monitors trials worldwide, and a professor at the University of California at Berkeley said the success of the tribunal will depend upon "whether Lebanon can offer a sufficiently secure environment for a highly charged trial and whether, given the politics, it will be possible to have an independent court and a firm process where witnesses will not feel intimidated from coming forward to testify." Hybrid tribunals are an innovative method of bringing prominent criminals to trial created in the wake of notable failures of both national and international tribunals to meet these challenges. National trials have often proved to be one-sided or insufficient measures to try prominent criminals; many believe it impossible for a government to prosecute crimes it may have been complicit in committing. In addition, national trials can devolve into ruthless "kangaroo courts" or sham trials used to eliminate political enemies rather than to redress wrongs. From Stalin's show trials to the Iraqi court trying Saddam Hussein, national tribunals have been subject to fierce criticism for lacking impartiality. In 1993, the UN agreed to establish an international criminal tribunal to try individuals responsible for the mass murders and "ethnic cleansing" committed during Yugoslavia's Civil War. This was the first international tribunal since Nuremburg and Tokyo in 1948. The following year, a similar tribunal was created to try those who orchestrated and executed the massacre of over 500,000 individuals in Rwanda. While these tribunals were hailed as groundbreaking, they were soon criticized for their exorbitant costs, slow pace, and remote location. Following disappointments in both local trials and international tribunals, hybrid tribunals were seen as a compromise that could combine their strengths and minimize their weaknesses. The first hybrid courts were established in Kosovo in 2000, and were soon followed by hybrid courts in East Timor, Sierra Leone, and Bosnia. Cambodia is in the final stages of establishing a hybrid court to address crimes committed by the Khmer Rouge, and Lebanon is the latest country to express its desire to create a hybrid tribunal. The decision to hold the tribunal in Geneva or Vienna is likely due to security fears. Proponents of holding the trial abroad say that this location may avoid violence that has marred the trial of Saddam Hussein, in which several members of the court have been kidnapped and killed. Nevertheless, critics argue that holding tribunals outside the country makes it difficult - or impossible - for the average citizen to be directly informed of trial proceedings. The dearth of news from the Yugoslav tribunal has provided fertile ground for nationalist Serb politicians to manipulate local perceptions of the trial. While it was announced that the trials would begin in June of this year, it has not yet been determined for how long the tribunal will continue to operate. The UN-sponsored international tribunals have been criticized for their bureaucratic delays and for proceeding at a snail's pace. The recent death of former Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic underscores the fact that his trial had dragged on for over four years without reaching any conclusion. The Lebanese tribunal may have to establish a timeline or completion strategy in order to avoid similar criticisms. From now until June, it will be necessary for the Lebanese tribunal to construct or designate a physical location for the trial's chambers and offices, a detention center for those indicted and found guilty, and structures to house and protect witnesses. In addition, it will be up to the UN and the Lebanese government to recruit and train judges, prosecutors, lawyers, security guards, translators, and other staff. Lebanon's tribunal has more resources at its disposal than many other previous tribunals, which have often taken place in countries where courtrooms, universities, law libraries, or other facilities were completely destroyed. Sierra Leone's tribunal was held in a nation laid to waste by nine years of civil war, and East Timor's tribunal took place after Indonesian militias had nearly demolished the entire area with its "scorched-earth" policy. While the Lebanese tribunal will benefit from the resources at its disposal, its choice to hold the trial in Geneva or Vienna may drive up the costs of establishing these structures and of paying employees' salaries. Lebanon's tribunal has not yet secured funding, nor has a budget been determined to outline its costs. The budget has been a thorny issue for several other tribunals; both UN-sponsored international tribunals have been criticized for their outrageous costs. The Rwandan tribunal has cost roughly $50 million per individual trial in a country where the average yearly income is only $1,300. On the other hand, the hybrid tribunal in East Timor was plagued by a meager annual budget of $6 million, which did not provide for translators, stenographers, or even electricity for the first three years of its operation. Cambodia's court has been repeatedly delayed due to an inability to secure funding. Ultimately, Lebanon's financial resources will define and circumscribe its operations. Since annual budgets for previous tribunals have cost as much as $200 million per year, Lebanon is looking to Western countries to contribute the majority of the funds. Nevertheless, Lebanon itself will most likely foot most of the bill. The legal system used by Lebanon's tribunal will most likely give ascendancy in decision-making to international judges. Previous hybrid tribunals have been led by a 3-2 or 4-3 majority of international judges, thus endowing them with the ultimate say in trial decisions. The hybrid tribunals in East Timor and Kosovo have used local laws as their primary legal source, but they rejected aspects of local law that were incompatible with international law. It is therefore expected that the Lebanese tribunal will try individuals according to Lebanese law, with necessary amendments to bring it into line with international standards.Previous trials have seen conflicts between local law and articles of international law concerning the death penalty and the right to an appeal. The Iraqi tribunal trying Saddam Hussein mandates that defendants found guilty of murder be executed within 30 days with no opportunity for clemency, leaving little or no time to request an appeal or hold a retrial. Many human rights groups and international organizations have singled this provision out as a draconian violation of the most basic tenets of a fair trial. It has not yet been determined whether or not the Lebanese tribunal will have recourse to the death penalty, which is currently permitted under Lebanese law but forbidden under international law. It is expected that the UN will strongly oppose any efforts to allow its use. The ultimate legacy of the Lebanese tribunal will not be based solely on whether or not it finds individuals guilty of Hariri's murder, but whether it further progresses the field of international law by providing the accused with fair and unbiased trials. Cohen says, "there is a recognition that hybrid tribunals can make a very positive contribution, but only if they are run right."

New Approach to Hariri Probe

Integrated Regional Information Network - New Approach to Hariri Probe, February 27, 2006

The first visit to Syria by Serge Brammertz, the new head of the UN investigation into the assassination of former Lebanese premier Rafik Hariri, signals a new approach in Damascus' dealings with the UN commission, analysts say. The one day visit took place on 23 February. “The Syrians are now saying they have another way of dealing with the parameters of the investigation,” said Syrian political analyst Ayman Abdel-Nour. Abdel-Nour suggested that a recent cabinet reshuffle and changes made to Syria's own judicial inquiry into the Hariri killing were a signal that Damascus would attempt to keep a low profile in its dealings with the UN in the months ahead. The previous approach saw Damascus holding a number of high-profile press conferences to refute the UN's findings and question the legitimacy of key witnesses interviewed by former head investigator Detlev Mehlis. The 11 February reshuffle saw former Foreign Minister Farouk al-Shara, who has yet to meet the UN commission request for questioning, appointed as vice president. In addition, Nabil Khateeb was appointed the new head of the Syrian inquiry into the Hariri assassination while Ibrahim Daraji was removed as the inquiry's spokesman. “They’ve agreed with investigator Brammertz to keep things in secret,” said Abdel-Nour. UN commission spokeswoman in Beirut Nasra Hassan, contacted by IRIN, said Brammertz had held “a working meeting” on his first trip to Syria which had been “constructive”. “It was a good meeting…that focused on cooperation on pending, new and future requests,” she said. Brammertz, the Belgian prosecutor who took over from Mehlis in January as head of the UN commission, met with Syria's new Foreign Minister Waleed Mualem for a few hours on Thursday for talks that focused “on ways to guarantee the success of the commission's work,” according to SANA. The independent ‘syrianews’ website reported that Brammertz had met with Ahmed Arnous, an assistant to Mualem; Nabil Khateeb, former justice minister and new head of the Syrian inquiry; and Riad Daoudi, the legal advisor to the foreign affairs ministry. Officials from the ministries of information, justice and foreign affairs, however, were unwilling to comment on the meeting. Rafik Hariri was the target of a fatal car bomb on 14 February 2005. Mehlis released two reports last year. The first, made public in October, stated that the decision to kill Hariri “could not have been taken without the approval of top-ranked Syrian security officials”. Damascus, however, denies any role in the killing, and has refused a UN request to question President Bashar al-Assad. In a surprise visit, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told reporters in Beirut on Thursday that Syria must give its “full cooperation” to the probe. UN Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 1664, issued in December, threatened Damascus with “further action” in the absence of unconditional cooperation. Rice's visit, devised to show support for Lebanon, was not announced beforehand for security reasons. A string of assassinations of anti-Syrian figures followed the Hariri assassination last year. Syria was the dominant power in Lebanon for three decades after intervening in 1976 in its smaller neighbour's civil war. Syrian troops withdrew last April following UNSC Resolution 1559, issued in September 2004, which called for all remaining foreign forces to withdraw from Lebanon. The withdrawal also came in the wake of domestic and international pressure following the Hariri assassination. Meanwhile, two Lebanese judges went to United Nations headquarters in New York on Thursday to discuss a proposed international tribunal to try suspects in the killing, a Justice Ministry source said. “We're waiting for the alternatives and will choose one and present it to the council of ministers,” the source said, adding that a decision was expected within weeks. Resolution 1644 also called for a “tribunal of international character” into the killing, at Beirut's behest.

Background - خلفية

On 13 December 2005 the Government of the Lebanese Republic requested the UN to establish a tribunal of an international character to try all those who are alleged responsible for the attack of 14 february 2005 that killed the former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and 22 others. The United Nations and the Lebanese Republic consequently negotiated an agreement on the establishment of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.

Liens - Links - مواقع ذات صلة

The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, David Schenker , March 30, 2010 . Beirut Spring: The Hariri Tribunal Goes Hunting for Hizballah

Frederic Megret, McGill University, 2008. A special tribunal for Lebanon: the UN Security Council and the emancipation of International Criminal Justice

International Center for Transitional Justice Handbook on the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, April 10, 2008

United Nations
Conférence de presse de Nicolas Michel, 19 Sept 2007
Conférence de presse de Nicolas Michel, 27 Mars 2008

Département d'Etat américain
* 2009 Human Rights report
* 2008 Human Rights report
* 2007 Human Rights report
* 2006 Human Rights report
* 2005 Human Rights report

ICG - International Crisis Group
The Hariri Tribunal: Separate the Political and the Judicial, 19 July, 2007. [Fr]

HCSS - Hague Centre for strategic studies
Hariri, Homicide and the Hague

Human Rights Watch
* Hariri Tribunal can restore faith in law, 11 may 2006
* Letter to Secretary-General Kofi Annan, april 27, 2006

Amnesty International
* STL insufficient without wider action to combat impunity
* Liban : le Tribunal de tous les dangers, mai 2007
* Jeu de mecano

Courrier de l'ACAT - Wadih Al Asmar
Le Tribunal spécial pour le Liban : entre espoir et inquiétude

Georges Corm
La justice penale internationale pour le Liban : bienfait ou malediction?

Nadim Shedadi and Elizabeth Wilmshurt, Chatham House
The Special Tribunal for Lebanon : the UN on Trial?, July 2007

Issam Michael Saliba, Law Library of Congress
International Tribunals, National Crimes and the Hariri Assassination : a novel development in International Criminal Law, June 2007

Mona Yacoubian, Council on Foreign Relations
Linkages between Special UN Tribunal, Lebanon, and Syria, June 1, 2007