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Parliamentary Immunity Does Not Protect Hezbollah MPs From US Sanctions

Parliamentary Immunity Does Not Protect Hezbollah MPs From US Sanctions

Tuesday, 16 July, 2019 - 07:00
Members of Hezbollah parliamentary bloc are seen during a regular meeting in Beirut, Lebanon, Lebanon July 11, 2019. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir
Beirut - Youssef Diab

The political and legal repercussions of the sanctions imposed by the US Treasury Department against Hezbollah deputies and officials have not yet crystallized, pushing the party to express, for the first time, its concern over the internal and external effects of such sanctions. This comes amid leaking information about a new list that will include leaders of parties close to the movement.

Hezbollah’s parliamentary bloc - headed by MP Mohammad Raad, who is under the US sanctions along with MP Amin Sherri - described the US recent move as “an aggression against Lebanon, its people and its choices,” describing it as “unacceptable and condemned by all sovereign and moral standards.”

“It will not change anything in our convictions or in our resistance to the Israeli occupation,” the bloc added.

Dr. Shafiq al-Masri, professor of international law at the American University of Beirut, said: “The sanctions are issued by one state and not by the international community; their effects are limited to any dealing of the concerned people with the Americans.”

In remarks to Asharq Al-Awsat, al-Masri noted that the US administration has merged Hezbollah’s political and military wings years ago, “while the European Union was still conservative on that, except for Britain, which is in the process of getting out of the Union.”

As for the impact of these sanctions on the parliamentary immunity enjoyed by the Hezbollah deputies, al-Masri said that parliamentary immunity was effective on Lebanese territory and did not extend to other countries. He pointed out that international treaties granted cross-border immunity only to the president of the Republic, the prime minister and the minister of foreign affairs.

Dr. Sami Nader, the director of the Levant Institute for Strategic Affairs, said that sanctions “go beyond the question of individuals and their interests to reach the Lebanese state since Hezbollah is an essential part of its structure.”

“There are no legal channels to circumvent the sanctions,” he underlined.

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