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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March 2, 2016

The Daily Star - STL prosecution wraps up case against Al-Akhbar , March 2 ,2016

Ned Whalley| The Daily Star
BEIRUT: Prosecutors at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon wrapped up their case against journalist Ibrahim al-Amin Tuesday, calling an expert in victimology to support their contention that Al-Akhbar newspaper pursued a calculated program of witness intimidation.Amin and his paper are charged with contempt of court for the publication of an allegedly leaked list of secret witnesses scheduled to appear in the assassination trial of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Prosecutors have charged that Amin disclosed their identities in order to undermine the tribunal and deter them from testifying for fear of retribution. The five defendants have all been linked to Hezbollah.
The bulk of the day’s testimony was given by Anne-Marie de Brouwer, an expert in victimology from the University of Tilburg. De Brouwer testified in a similar capacity in the contempt case against journalist Karma al-Khayat and Al-Jadeed TV, currently under appeal.
De Brouwer had submitted a report for the prosecution in that case, which she subsequently adapted and published in the International Criminal Law Review. She testified that her research had largely been confined to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the International Criminal Court, but contended her findings could be applied directly to the STL.
De Brouwer testified at length about the effects disclosure can have on witnesses but also on the public perception of the court. She particularly emphasized the psychological and societal effects of being identified as a witness, particularly in close-knit communities and volatile security situations. “The reason to implement protective measures is because of the risk that someone might be harmed physically, socially or psychologically, and that this could affect the willingness [of witnesses to testify],” she said. “This logic is behind all the tribunals in implementing protective measures.”
Amicus Curiae Prosecutor Kenneth Scott read aloud from the Al-Akhbar articles which spurred the charges, citing Amin’s claim that the paper possessed names of other witnesses that it had not disclosed, and that those testifying were effectively taking part in a conspiracy to cast blame on Hezbollah.
“I would expect this has a big impact on witnesses, especially as it’s written in the article that this is a sample of witnesses to be used by the prosecution team,” testified De Brouwer. “This means there are more witnesses that could be exposed ... so it has an impact on witnesses, future witnesses – actual witness or not.”
“And it actually says the witnesses who will be used will be used to incriminate Hezbollah. So these witnesses are put in the light where they are testifying against Hezbollah, which could lead to additional fear.”
In the weeks before the trial, the prosecution sought to file an addendum to De Brouwer’s report to emphasize the applicability of her evidence to Lebanon, something they had left up to the court to determine in the Al-Jadeed case without success. But Contempt Judge Nicola Lettieri refused to allow the submission, citing its tardiness. Scott was forced to try to rectify the situation through his examination. He did so over the repeated objections of Lebanese defense attorney Antonios Abou Kasm, appointed by the court to represent Amin. Seizing on the omission, and aping a tactic used by all defense teams at the STL, he questioned De Brouwer’s specific knowledge of Lebanon and ultimately the relevance of her entire testimony.
“So you made no research on witnesses and victims before the STL in order to make your report, correct?” he asked. “Did you go to Lebanon to see a witness whose name was published suffer actual harm?” De Brouwer has never been to Lebanon, and readily conceded both points, but maintained that the scope of her assessment made it applicable to case at hand.
Tuesday was the first day in the Al-Akhbar trial in which the majority of evidence has been given in open session. Earlier in the day, Scott called Moukelad Al-Araki, who was employed by the prosecution to monitor the online status of the relevant Al-Akhbar articles, first published in January 2013. Araki testified that as late as two weeks ago, the pages were accessible and linked to Al-Akhbar’s social media pages. But one day the witness list was suddenly redacted.
“There was a note over the pictures that they had been blurred pursuant to an order of the STL.”
Given Amin’s defiant tone and refusal to appear before the court, it is notable that the paper has chosen to obscure what it so loudly claimed to have revealed.
The defense is scheduled to present its case, if any, from April 7-8 and 11-13. A final ruling in the case against Kharma Khayat and Al-Jadeed will be delivered March 8.
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