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Guterres Denounces Political Pressure on Lebanon’s Judiciary

Guterres Denounces Political Pressure on Lebanon’s Judiciary

Tuesday, 30 November, 2021 - 11:30
The Gesture, a 25-meter sculpture by Lebanese architect Nadim Karam to commemorate victims of last year’s Beirut blast, is seen at the capital's port in Lebanon, July 30, 2021. (Reuters)

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has urged the Lebanese government to “clarify” the framework that will be adopted in the legislative elections next spring, including quotas and other measures to ensure increased representation of women.

He also expressed “deep concern” on the polarization over the investigations into the Beirut port explosion, denouncing “political pressure” on the judiciary.

The UN chief called for continued investigations into “serious violations and abuses” of human rights, including the assassination of the Shiite dissident Lokman Slim.

The Security Council convened in a closed session on Monday, during which it listened to two separate briefings by UN Special Coordinator in Lebanon Joanna Wronecka, and the Commander of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), Major General Stefano Del Col, regarding the latest report of the UN secretary-general on the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701.

In his latest report, Guterres called on the Lebanese government to “implement a concrete reform plan” that meets the needs and aspirations of the Lebanese people, including holding legislative elections on time.

He also urged the government and Parliament to give priority to the technical, administrative and legislative preparations necessary for the elections, encouraging “clarification of the applicable electoral framework and its specific measures, including quotas and other temporary special measures, aimed at accelerating the participation of women, youth and persons with disabilities in the political process.”

Guterres expressed “grave concern” about the severe impact of the crisis on essential basic services, including health care, food, water and electricity in the country.

He also denounced the “polarization” of political opinions over the investigation into the Beirut port explosion, pointing to the “fatal clashes” that took place in the Tayyouneh area in Beirut last October.

The UN chief emphasized the need to condemn the unauthorized use of weapons outside the scope of the state’s authority and the political pressure on the judiciary, calling on Lebanese politicians to enable the state’s legislative, executive and judicial institutions to perform their tasks effectively without interference.

Praising the Lebanese army for its contribution to restoring calm, Guterres reiterated his calls for an “impartial, thorough and transparent investigation into the devastating explosion” that took place in the port of Beirut. He also urged the government to continue its previously announced investigations into “serious violations and abuses of human rights, including the killing of Lokman Slim.”

He said that the launching of rockets from Lebanon towards Israel and the Israeli response constitute “serious violations” of Resolution 1701. He expressed “particular concern over the Israeli raids and the subsequent use of a multi-barrel rocket launcher by Hezbollah, warning that this escalation constitutes “significant risks to the cessation of hostilities.”

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