The port of Beirut was devastated by an explosion on August 4, 2020, which plunged the country into a serious political crisis.
Two years after the deadly explosion in port of Beirut, independent experts from the United Nations and NGOs on Wednesday called on the international community to launch an international investigation “without delay”.
This tragedy was one of the largest non-nuclear explosions in recent history, and yet the world did nothing to understand why it happened, said the six experts who are mandated by the Human Rights Council but do not speak on behalf of the United Nations.
“On this second anniversary of the explosion, we are heartbroken that the people of Lebanon are still waiting for justice, and we call for an international investigation. open immediately. »
— The six experts mandated by the Human Rights Council
The press release is notably signed by the United Nations special spokesperson on extrajudicial, summary executions or arbitrary, Morris Tidball-Binz, Special Spokesperson on Human Rights and the Environment, David Boyd, and Independent Expert on Human Rights and international solidarity, Obiora Okafor.
The gigantic explosion of August 4, 2020 at the port of Beirut killed more than 200 people and injured 6,500 in addition to destroying thousands of buildings.
That same evening, authorities determined that the explosion was caused by 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate that had been abandoned for more than six years at the site port.
Pointed out for criminal negligence, the authorities have rejected any international investigation. They are accused by the families of the victims and NGOs of political interference to torpedo the investigation and avoid charges.
Shortly after the disaster, 37 UN human rights experts issued a joint statement calling on the Lebanese government and the international community to respond effectively to the need for justice and reparation.
But relatives of victims have received no response from their leaders about the presence of the tonnes of ammonium nitrate that have been carelessly stored in the port. Investigations have stalled since late 2021, due to political obstruction. No official has yet been charged.
The national investigation blocked, the families of the victims have therefore called on the international community to set up an independent investigation under the aegis of the Human Rights Council, recall the experts of the UN.
They in turn call on the Human Rights Council to take up the case, citing systemic problems of negligent governance and widespread corruption.
Eleven Lebanese and international NGOs, including Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International, also urged the members of the Human Rights Council on Wednesday to send to Beirut, as soon as possible, an independent and impartial mission to investigate the explosion.
It is now more evident than ever that the national inquiry cannot bring justice to the victims, they added.
Based in Geneva, the UN Human Rights Council is made up of 47 member states that meet regularly in sessions. The next one is to take place from September 13 to October 7. During these sessions, countries can decide to commission experts to investigate situations with an impact on human rights.
In Rome, Pope Francis expressed his sympathy to the Lebanese before the second anniversary of the explosion. I hope that Lebanon, with the help of the international community, will continue on the path of rebirth, he said.