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.

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July 26, 2011

The Daily Star - Tribunal financially sound - July 26, 2011

By Patrick Galey

BEIRUT: The U.N.-backed court probing the 2005 assassination of statesman Rafik Hariri is financially sound and has been operating without Lebanon’s share of running cost funding since the start of the year, Special Tribunal for Lebanon Registrar Herman von Hebel said Monday.
In an interview with The Daily Star, von Hebel also defended court president Antonio Cassese, who has been the target of slurs from Hezbollah since the tribunal issued its first indictment, believed to contain the names of Hezbollah operatives, at the end of June.
“The STL has a solid financial basis due to other voluntary contributions. Lebanon has not paid its dues for 2011 and we expect the government to comply with its international obligations,” von Hebel said.
Lebanon is obliged to assist the STL under U.N. Security Council Resolution 1757, including providing roughly half of the court’s annual running costs, which for 2011 amounts to $65 million.
Pre-Trial Judge Daniel Fransen handed down the court’s first indictments, in a sealed submission to Beirut authorities, on June 30. It is thought that four members of Hezbollah, as well as other individuals, have been accused of killing Hariri.
As registrar, von Hebel is tasked with managing the STL’s finances, procurement, security, media and outreach sections, including dealing with the detention of suspects.
He said it was too early to tell how cooperative Lebanese authorities had been in seeking to apprehend those named in the indictment.
“At this point we cannot make any assessment of the effectiveness of their efforts, as the implementation of the pre-trial judge’s order is the responsibility of the national authorities,” he said. “After the tribunal receives the report from the Lebanese authorities, the STL president will consider if reasonable attempts have been made to serve the indictment.
“I can tell you that we expect the Lebanese authorities to search for, arrest and transfer the accused to STL custody. It is too early to make any assessment on how efficient the search has been,” von Hebel added.
Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah, who has repeatedly denounced the court as a conspiracy against the resistance, vowed that party members would not be arrested, “even in 300 years.”
If, as widely expected, suspects have not been apprehended within 30 working days after the indictment’s release, the court will go public with the contents of arrest warrants. Lebanese authorities then have an additional 30 days to try and arrest suspects.
Von Hebel said that the decision whether to make the indictment names public would be taken around Aug. 11 and that there was a potential for in absentia trial proceedings to commence at The Hague this year.
“The date for the commencement of trial will depend on how much time the defense team is granted to review the material by the judges,” he said.
Following Nasrallah’s comments on Cassese in the wake of the indictment, the STL president circulated internal memos to court staff, lamenting the tribunal’s inability to publicly respond to criticism.
Von Hebel, while refusing to get into a debate with the Hezbollah leader, defended Cassese and his track record of impartiality. “Nasrallah is engaging in a public debate but our focus as a judicial institution is guided by legal considerations,” he said. “President Cassese is a man whose track record and own actions speak far louder than any allegation against him. The tribunal is confident in his leadership as President and in his neutrality as the presiding judge of the Appeals Chamber.”
Following reports that Lebanon-based court staff had been asked to return to The Hague for their own safety just before the indictment landed – which later proved false – von Hebel said he was confident that authorities in Beirut were doing their utmost to ensure the wellbeing of STL employees.
“I can assure you that the Lebanese authorities have been helpful in this regard and we are counting on this cooperation to continue. We have received positive cooperation from the Dutch authorities in the Netherlands and from the authorities in Lebanon. The result is a safe environment for staff to do their work,” he said.

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