The Lebanese Center for Human Rights (CLDH) is a local non-profit, non-partisan Lebanese human rights organization in Beirut that was established by the Franco-Lebanese Movement SOLIDA (Support for Lebanese Detained Arbitrarily) in 2006. SOLIDA has been active since 1996 in the struggle against arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance and the impunity of those perpetrating gross human violations.

Search This Blog

December 18, 2009

Daily Star - STL signs pact with INTERPOL to aid in investigation - December 18, 2009

By Patrick Galey

BEIRUT: The UN Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) has signed an agreement with the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) to aid the former’s investigations, it was announced on Thursday.
INTERPOL Secretary General Ronald Noble met with STL President Antonio Cassese and a number of tribunal officials at The Hague Wednesday, drafting “a framework for cooperation … for investigations and proceedings in relation to the crimes within the jurisdiction of the STL.”
The announcement coincided with an introductory briefing from the STL’s Outreach Office in Beirut on Thursday.
The public relations initiative was designed to increase public awareness on the tribunal, according to Wajed Ramadan, STL outreach officer.
“We would like to facilitate the comprehension of the Lebanese about what is going on in the STL,” Ramadan told The Daily Star. “We need to stimulate the interest of the Lebanese and for them not to feel that the STL is something that is imposed [from outside].”
“If public awareness was raised on the STL, then the Lebanese “would fear it less,” Ramadan said.
The STL was set up to try the perpetrators of the assassination of former Premier Rafik Hariri, as well as a number of political killings, and has been plagued by accusations of politicization since its inception in March this year.
Ramadan said the ability of Lebanese civilians to communicate directly with the outreach office would go some way toward re-establishing the tribunal’s public credibility.
“The first perception is that the STL is politicized and we have to work on this,” she said. “[There] is mistrust because of the circumstances of the creation of the STL [provoked] misinformation and we have to work in order to clarify this.”
Hariri was killed along with 22 others by a massive car bomb in Ain al-Mreisseh, Beirut on February 14, 2005, and blame for the assassination has been laid by many at Syria’s door.
Damascus has repeatedly denied involvement in the incident, which prompted the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon after 29 years.
Ramadan said misinformation risked harming the public’s perception of the STL and erroneous reports often emanated from experts who didn’t fully understand the tribunal.
“You have some experts or professors at universities who are not all aware of the real procedures; for example, there are people who say the STL is a subsidiary of the Security Council. This is not true,” said the outreach officer.
But Ramadan acknowledged that a greater effort was required from STL members to ensure that the right information reached Lebanese media.
“We have to be more accurate when we disseminate information,” she said. “It is preferable that we engage in dialogue with the Lebanese population rather than just responding to what is said.”
Thursday’s briefing formed part of a wider charm offensive from The Hague, with Chief Prosecutor Daniel Bellemare last week visiting the families of victims killed in assassination attacks. He said the tribunal was “making progress.”
Ramadan denied that the tribunal’s 2010 budget had been cut from May estimates. Former tribunal registrar Robin Vincent had calculated the STL would require $65 million for the next 12 months, but the 2010 budget was approved by registrar David Tolbert on 9 December as $55.35 million.
“[Vincent’s figures] were still estimations [for the STL’s 2010 budget],” said Ramadan. “We now have precise numbers of the budget … and it might increase next year. But it is not a cut of the budget.”
The STL’s agreement with INTERPOL should improve its ability to extract information from nations whose citizens may be of interest to investigators, an issue outlined as vital to proceedings in Cassese’s recent progress report.
Ramadan said she was unable to comment on aspects of the investigation but confirmed that negotiations with countries “are in progress.”

No comments:

Post a Comment