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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September 30, 2011

Naharnet - March 8 Procrastinates STL Funding Discussions, Breakthrough Likely Found, September 30, 2011

The March 8 forces will begin tackling the funding of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon probing the assassination of ex-Prime Minister Rafik Hariri by the beginning of October, An Nahar newspaper reported on Friday.
A ministerial source told the daily that any breakthrough in the issue of the STL would have to be through the cabinet.
The source noted that the payment of Lebanon’s share will be included in the 2011 state budget.
A March 8 source told al-Liwaa newspaper that the stances announced by President Michel Suleiman and PM Najib Miqati in New York only commit them and don’t impose any obligations on the members of the cabinet.
“When the right time comes, the issue will be resolved by adopting a legal mechanism,” the source said.
He stressed that the dispute over the funding of the STL can only be resolved by adopting two methods, the first “constitutional and requires reconsidering the legality of this tribunal, while the other is legal and requires re-opening of the false witnesses issue.”
The source raised the possibility of bargaining the funding of the STL with amending the protocol signed between the Lebanese government and the STL by next March.
A ministerial source told al-Liwaa that a suggested way out could be through issuing a decree that approves paying Lebanon’s $33 million dues, signed by the President, the PM, Finance Minister Mohammed al-Safadi and caretaking Justice Minister Walid al-Daouq, since Justice Minister Shakib Qortbawi committed himself to the Free Patriotic Movement decision not to approve the funding even if Hizbullah accepted.

Naharnet - ‘Brave’ Teenager Gets Australian Court to Halt Forced Wedding in Lebanon, September 30, 2011

A 16-year-old girl secretly took legal action against her parents in Australia to escape an arranged marriage in Lebanon in what a magistrate has called an ''act of great bravery,” Australian newspapers reported on Friday.
The dailies quoted Federal magistrate Joe Harman as saying that he was satisfied there was a psychological risk to the girl unless the court intervened.
"The young person's evidence makes very clear that she has expressed to her parents that she does not want to go to Lebanon and does not want to marry the person proposed," he said.
"It is not the right of any parent to cause their child to be married against their will, whether in accordance with Australian law or otherwise," he added.
Harman praised the girl's bravery in using the legal system to challenge her parents' authority.
He restrained the girl's parents from removing her from Australia and from harassing, threatening or intimidating her, or questioning her about the court proceedings, the newspapers said.
He ordered that they surrender her passport to the court.
He also ordered the girl be placed on the airport watch list and Australian Federal Police maintain an airport watch for her.
However, Harman said he was not criticizing any culture that had arranged marriages. ''The arrangements proposed should not be judged or criticized from a Western perspective, but must be viewed through the eyes of those who live and appreciate that culture.”
The orders were made just two weeks before the planned wedding in Lebanon in April. Details of the case have been revealed in a judgment published this week.

Naharnet - March 14 to Confront STL Funding Obstacles, September 30, 2011

The March 14-led opposition will re-launch its periodic meetings in order to announce its political stances that all the members agree on, al-Liwaa newspaper reported on Friday.
Sources told the daily that the opposition leadership is rearranging its way of tackling the issues to stimulate their opposing movement and obstruct any attempts to block Lebanon’s commitment to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.
The STL was created by a 2007 U.N. Security Council resolution, at Lebanon's request, to try those responsible for ex-Premier Rafik Hariri's assassination. He was killed in a suicide car bombing along with 22 other people including a bomber on February 14, 2005.
A source affiliated with the March 14 general secretariat noted that accusing Hizbullah members of involvement in the assassination is a “major step.”
He added: “These accusations set the path of confrontations.”
However, the source said that the cabinet is the only side authorized to pay the funding of the STL, stressing the opposition’s refusal of any other solution.
In August, the court published a full indictment, saying it had enough evidence to put four members of Hizbullah on trial.
The four Hizbullah members are Salim Ayyash, 47, Mustafa Badreddine, 50, Hussein Oneissi, 37 and Assad Sabra, 34.
Ayyash and Badreddine face five charges including that of "committing a terrorist act by means of an explosive device" and homicide, while Oneissi and Sabra face charges of conspiring to commit the same acts.
The whereabouts of the four men are currently unknown.

Iloubnan - Qadiri wonders if govt is committed to the course of justice, September 30, 2011

Future bloc member MP Ziad Qadri pondered on Thursday in an interview with New TV, whether the Lebanese government headed by Prime Minister Najib Mikati was genuinely committed to the course of justice and that of Lebanese martyrs. Regarding the funding of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) , the MP said that "many issues will be resolved once the cabinet members respond to matters involving funding, cooperation and protocol, adding that "International resolutions are not a food menu, from which we can select whatever we wish." However, Qadri made clear that Lebanon enjoys constrained prerogatives making STL-related decisions. He also pointed to what he described as discrepancy between Mikati's New York and Lebanon stances. "PM Mikati says one thing in New York, and then comes to say another in Beirut. Just as is the case concerning his talks about bringing amendments to international resolutions and protocol," Qadri said. He also said that funding the STL was the Lebanese cabinet's responsibility, and not that of Parliament.

Now Lebanon - Aridi: Lebanese media should not be censored, September 30, 2011

Public Works and Transportation Minister Ghazi Aridi said on Thursday that Lebanese media should not be censored.
“Freedom does not mean that [everything is allowed], but we live in a civil and democratic country; we have laws to abide by and there is no way we can [impose] censorship,” Aridi was quoted by the National News Agency as saying.
However, Aridi said that media should play their role and be responsible.
He also voiced hope that “clerics and politicians do not intervene [in the media],” adding that “all [Lebanese] journalists know very well how to respect traditions.”
An episode about “sex education for kids” was almost prevented from airing on Wednesday night on the LBC program, Ahmar Belkhat al-Areed” after a flood of criticism from the media, as well as public and religious figures.
The National Council of Audio-Visual Media said it sent a letter to LBC warning the network about possible violations of the audio-visual law over the commercial LBC was airing this week to promote the episode, which “included a signal” about children and sex.

Now Lebanon - Nahhas says cabinet will approve STL funding, September 30, 2011

Economy Minister Nicolas Nahhas said on Thursday that Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s statements that Lebanon will commit to international resolutions will turn into action.
“[Mikati’s statements] will be [implemented] with a decision by the cabinet,” he told MTV, adding: “Lebanon cannot be isolated from the international community.”
Nahhas said that the course of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon – which is investigating the 2005 murder of ex-Premier Rafik Hariri – will not be affected if the country decided against providing its share of funding to the UN-backed court.
However, Nahhas – a member of March 8’s Free Patriotic Movement – said that such a decision will affect Lebanon
“There are no guarantees between partners; there is a deep and detailed discussion, and I think that Hezbollah will understand Mikati’s [arguments],” he also said in response to a question on how the FPM’s allies may react to such a decision.
UN Security Council Resolution 1757 established the STL in 2007. Lebanon contributes 49 percent of the court’s annual funding.
Four Hezbollah members have been indicted by the STL. However, the Shia group strongly denied the charges and refuses to cooperate with the court.

Now Lebanon - Manajian: No party made any promise to Mikati over STL funding, September 30, 2011

State Minister Panos Manajian said on Friday that no party made any promises to Prime Minister Najib Mikati concerning Lebanon’s share of funding for the UN-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL).
“No party [made any promises to] Prime Minister Najib Mikati, but there might be a solution for the tribunal’s financing. This is a Lebanese, regional and international matter,” he told Voice of Lebanon (100.5) radio.
Manajian also said that the agenda of the cabinet’s upcoming session has not yet been set, but added that the matter of STL will be discussed soon.Mikati said on Tuesday night that“Lebanon will have to suffer if the funding [of the STL] is not approved.” Hezbollah-led March 8 parties – which currently dominate Lebanon’s cabinet – have opposed a clause in the Lebanese annual state budget pertaining to the funding of the tribunal which is probing the 2005 assassination of former PM Rafik Hariri.Lebanon contributes 49 percent of the STL's annual funding.Four Hezbollah members have been indicted by the STL. However, the Shia group strongly denied the charges and refuses to cooperate with the court.

Now Lebanon - Al-Akhbar: Jordanian arrested on suspicion of espionage, September 30, 2011

The Directorate General of General Security detained a Jordanian citizen, identified only as A.M., last week on suspicion that he was “collecting information” about Director of General Security Abbas Ibrahim, Al-Akhbar newspaper reported on Friday.The military judiciary indicted the Jordanian for “contacting a foreign country,” the report added.“[The arrested man] confessed that he works for the intelligence of a country that is ‘friends’ with Lebanon. [He also said] that he sent information about where Ibrahim lives, where he [goes to] and when he arrives [to work],” the report added.

Now Lebanon - Makari addresses electoral law, September 30, 2011

Deputy Speaker MP Farid Makari said in an interview published on Friday that the draft electoral law proposed by the Orthodox committee “is unachievable.”
“[The proposal] contradicts the [goals] of the Taif Accord and March 14,” he told An-Nahar newspaper.
The draft electoral law proposed by the Orthodox committee states that Lebanese citizens should vote for candidates from their own sect under a system based on proportional representation.
“Humbly, I am the strongest [politician] in the Koura district under any [electoral] law, but if I said my opinion frankly then they will accuse me of [caring about] my personal interests,” Makari added.
“I have no problem with any law, what is important is [for the law to] be satisfactory for the Lebanese people and Christians in the first place.”
Makari is a member of the Future bloc and was elected in 2009 from the Koura district.
Lebanese parties are debating the electoral law for the upcoming 2013 parliamentary elections. After the parliament agreed on drafting a law based on proportional representation, some parties rejected the proposed law and called for adopting the 2009 electoral law, which is based on simple majority representation.

Now Lebanon - Syrian soldiers arrested Lebanese farmers, paper reports, September 30, 2011

Saudi As-Sharq Al-Awsat newspaper reported on Friday that Syrian soldiers entered Lebanese territory on Wednesday night and briefly detained two Lebanese farmers.
Lebanese activists told the daily that seven Syrian soldiers seized Lebanese farmed Ali Salim Daher and his son Mustafa and interrogated the two before releasing them.
Mustafa Daher told As-Sharq Al-Awsat that the Syrian army asked him to provide information about “armed groups that are infiltrating the Syrian borders from the Lebanese town of Halwas in Akkar and shooting at the [Syrian army’s headquarters] in Heet.”
Daher added that denied having any information on the subject of armed groups.
He also said that the Syrian army “checked their identities and compared them with a list of wanted people.”
The UN says that the Syrian regime's crackdown on protests that erupted in mid-March has killed more than 2,700 people. 

Daily Star - U.N. urges Lebanon to act on stateless people, September 30, 2011

BEIRUT: The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees and the Frontiers Ruwad Association urged the Lebanese government Thursday to act on issues concerning stateless people in the country, at the close of a media roundtable on the topic.
The Lebanese human rights non-governmental organization, together with the United Nations body, issued a list of recommendations for the government to follow up on. Estimates say there could be as many as 200,000 stateless people in Lebanon, although the lack of data means that determining an exact figure is impossible.
Aimed at increasing communication between relevant authorities, U.N. agencies, experts and NGOs, the roundtable concluded with a showing of the first documentary film made on the issue, filmed by Frontiers Ruwad.
The film outlines the main causes and problems associated with statelessness in Lebanon, focusing on de facto as opposed to de jure statelessness, the latter affecting those without an alternative state, such as Palestinians.
De facto stateless people are “in principle and by the law entitled to Lebanese nationality,” according to Frontiers executive director, Samira Trad, but may have fallen through the net for various reasons and may not know they are entitled to nationality. Such people may be defined as “unregistered” or “under study.”
Mohammad Kasrani, 22, is defined as “under study.” While his mother is Lebanese, his father is also defined in his category, his own father having left Palestine before the 1948 creation of Israel and thus receiving the “under study” category, not refugee status, and passing it on to his son and grandson.
In the film Kasrani explains that he had not seen his statelessness as a problem until he applied to study at the Lebanese University. The registration required him to fill in his nationality, which he could not do. Refused entry to LU, Kasrani went on to study at another university in Lebanon.
Intending to pursue his studies in France, General Security supplied Kasrani with a laissez-passer, persuading him that it was equal to a passport. The French authorities said they would only accept a passport, and Kasrani was denied entry to the Schengen area of Europe.
He urged action on the issue, adding that while he has to pay social security fees, he cannot benefit from NSSF services.
Wael, 35 years old, also featured in the film. His parents are both without citizenship and he is therefore defined as “unregistered.” When his father applied, on behalf of the entire family, for nationality in 1994, Wael was a minor, and therefore did not qualify. The rest of his family members are now Lebanese citizens, but Wael remains without statehood.
He approached Frontiers Ruwad for advice on his case. Although he says he knows the road to citizenship will be difficult, he says it will be worth it “to have a normal life and be able to marry.”
Trad urged the Lebanese government to find solutions to the issue, and said that “it is unacceptable to have someone on this earth without citizenship … who is denied basic and fundamental rights.”
Ninette Kelly, regional representative for the UNHCR, also featured in the film, and cited several key obstacles facing the campaign for statelessness, including the lack of a census since 1932.
This lack of accurate data has wide ramifications, as the descendants of those who chose not to participate in that census are still feeling the effects today, Trad said. Many did not register for political or ideological reasons, Trad said, including some residents of the Wadi Khaled region of Akkar who wanted to be defined as Syrian.
Recommendations for the Lebanese government include studying the gaps in the law, and the lack of a legal framework, which leads to statelessness. Currently the laws pertaining to statehood are spread across different sections of the Penal Code, including personal status laws and nationality laws.
It was also agreed that the reasons why some children are not registered at birth need to be identified. The groups urged the government to conduct a census of unregistered and “under study” persons, so that the extent of the issue, and the best ways to deal with it, can be realized.
A national awareness campaign, which rests on the input of civil society and media groups, is also needed, as people are largely ignorant of the issues surrounding statelessness, Trad said. A follow-up committee involving all participants will be established to continue working on the issue.

Daily Star - Lack of state-funded legal aid hampers justice, September 30, 2011

By Hannah Ellis-Petersen

BEIRUT: If you’ve ever watched an American crime drama, you’ve probably heard this: “If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be appointed for you.”
Legal aid is a vital component of democracy, as it ensures that those who do not have financial means are still treated fairly by the justice system. But the legal aid system in Lebanon is in a “real crisis” according to experts and lawyers, as well as a recent report by the World Bank.
“In Lebanon we pay nothing. The government gives no financial support at all toward helping people access justice,” says Joe Karam, a lawyer with the Beirut Bar Association who led a recent investigation into legal aid reform. “In the U.K., people pay around $60 per capita in taxes to fund legal aid.”
The United Kingdom sets aside over $3 billion annually to provide a comprehensive legal aid service, which includes legal aid walk-in clinics, as well as covering the hourly fees of lawyers who represent those from poorer backgrounds in both civil and criminal cases. In Canada, over $500 million is put toward legal assistance for the economically disadvantagedeach year, while Germany allocates $570 million
The European Court of Human Rights specifies that to ensure fair hearings for all, if a person has not sufficient means to pay for legal assistance, they are to be given it free when “the interests of justice so require.”
But this kind of commitment to providing access to legal aid continues to evade Lebanon, where funding and legal education issues plague the judicial system. With no government-funded legal aid system in place, the responsibility of ensuring that everyone has equal representation in court rests entirely on Bar Associations, and a sparse number of specialist NGOs.
This lack of funding means that lawyers are only paid $200 per legal aid case. Considering that criminal cases can last up to three or four years, this fee is “barely sufficient to cover the cost of photocopying the case’s file and transportation fees,” says lawyer Paul Morcos.
Throughout the E.U. and the U.S., lawyers on legal aid cases are paid specialist hourly rates by the government for as long as the case runs. Without such a system, the financial incentive to devote time to legal aid cases is all but removed for Lebanese lawyers.
Morcos, who also heads Justicia, an NGO that focuses on issues of legal reform, says that many people just don’t have access to the legal system.
“The general economic vulnerability in Lebanon, the lack of confidence in the court system and judicial independence, in addition to the high court fees, and the lack of satisfactory legal representation in civil and criminal cases, make a considerable part of the Lebanese population unable to access the legal system” he says. “There is a pressing need for the justice system in Lebanon to improve delivery of justice-sector services to the poor, which still falls short of the desired standard.”
Mohana Ishak, a lawyer with Association de Justice et Misericorde, which offers legal counseling and assistance to those in prison, agrees that insufficient funding for legal aid makes it unlikely that pro bono cases will be treated the same as those with paying clients.
“The follow-up with cases is very slow and often not there at all. Lawyers don’t really work on the cases as they get nothing out of it so it’s not worth their while,” she says, “especially if there are additional expenses needed for the case, such as an interpreter or a forensic doctor. Sometimes the case will just have to stop if the lawyer can’t cover the expenses themselves. The quality is not good; the whole system is not good.”
Karam acknowledges this lack of funding and resources remains an obstacle for the Bar Association in its distribution of legal aid services.
“Because judges are busy and the lawyers are overbooked, and also because of the small budget for cases where a translator is needed for instance, the cases can take a long time,” he says. “And when justice is delayed, justice is denied.”
In theory, anyone who cannot afford their own legal defense in a criminal case is entitled to ask the judge to supply them with a lawyer through the Bar Association, and judges are required by law to ask everyone if they need legal assistance.
But Ghida Frangieh, a legal aid lawyer with the organization, Frontiers-Ruwad, says this doesn’t happen in practice.
“One of the major problems is those who are being charged with less-serious crimes, where the sentence would be less than three years, don’t automatically get legal aid,” she says. “Very few people are aware of their eligibility for legal aid, especially those in prison pretrial. You have to make a request and it is very rare for a judge to ask you.”
But many of those from poorer backgrounds have little or no knowledge of their legal entitlements at all.
“What we don’t have, which we really need, is legal aid centers for people to come and talk to the lawyer when they need guidance. There is very poor legal education in Lebanon” laments Frangieh.
Morcos echoes the characterization.
“Many Lebanese awaiting trial in prison are unaware of their right to legal aid. Similarly, noncitizens rarely resort to courts due to ignorance of the legal services or the fear of becoming involved in an unfamiliar legal system. But the government still has no real strategy of awareness and empowerment on this matter.”
With the current system under so much strain, lawyers and NGOs bemoan the lack of government support for the legal aid process.
Morcos speaks out against the government’s failure in this regard and calls for the establishment of a “national legal aid program, and assistance in funding the Beirut and Tripoli Bar Association’s legal aid system,” as well as advocating a state-run legal aid system to enhance the civil society’s efforts.
The sentiment is echoed by Ishak. “The government could play a major role, if legal aid was considered in their budget, but it is just not on their agenda,” she says.
While new protocols and evaluation programs to record legal aid cases and improve standards will be implemented by the Bar Association over the coming year, Morcos worries the problems are too deeply entrenched in the system.
“The Bar Associations in Lebanon cannot certainly fix by themselves the legal aid problems radically, but they are doing remarkable efforts given the fact that the government is inert regarding this subject,” he says.

Daily Star - EU delegation agrees to 12 million euro aid package, September 30, 2011

BEIRUT: A 12 million euro agreement for a 2-year project aiming at improving living conditions in Palestinian refugee camps was signed Thursday by the European Union delegation to Lebanon and UNRWA.The project will fund the rehabilitation of more than 700 shelters in Palestinian camps throughout Lebanon and pay cash rent subsidies to more than 3,000 families as they wait to return to their reconstructed houses in the Nahr al-Bared camp in north Lebanon.“The project presents a tangible evidence of the E.U.’s willingness to keep on improving the living conditions of Palestine refugees in Lebanon.

Daily Star - Lebanese Women’s Council hails Saudi voting law, September 30, 2011

BEIRUT: The Lebanese Women’s Council praised King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia’s decision to grant women the right to vote, run in municipal elections and join the all-appointed Shura Council.In a statement, the council said the decision was “historical” and politically “courageous,” and praised the king’s step toward reform.
“This courageous political decision, which gives Saudi women the right to participate in their country’s affairs, would not have been possible without the [king’s] wisdom and his awareness of the importance of women’s role” in national development and progress, the council said.

Daily Star - Delayed decrees stall Lebanon’s environment law, September 30, 2011

BEIRUT: The implementation of the country’s Environment Law is being stalled by the government’s failure to issue executive decrees, said Justice Minister Shakib Qortbawi Thursday. “The fact that the executive decrees for the Environment Law [of 2002] have not yet been issued prevents its implementation,” Qortbawi said.
The minister said, however, that the law had enshrined the legal principles of protecting the environment.
Qortbawi’s remarks came during a conference, “Environmental Legislation and its Implementation,” that was organized by the Environment Committee of the Beirut Bar Association.
Also speaking during the ceremony were Environment Minister Nazim Khoury, Bar Association president Amal Haddad and others.
Khoury sounded the alarm when he said that Lebanon came in 90th in an Environmental Performance Index.
Khoury said that the ministry is mulling over the best means to pass a group of draft laws for the environment that were prepared in years past.
“These include the establishment of a public prosecutor’s office for environmental crimes, a special law to protect natural reserves, the complete management of solid wastes, the protection of the quality of air and organizing the field of stone and sand quarries,” Khoury said.
Draft decrees would also be passed to form an environmental police, establish the National Council for the Environment and the National Fund for the Environment, continued Khoury.
Khoury also said that the ministry was seeking a grant of 8 million euros from the European Union to boost environmental governance.

L'Orient le jour - Breves - Hak interrogé devant le tribunal militaire pour tirs sur des soldats syriens, September 30, 2011

Le juge d’instruction près le tribunal militaire, Imad Zein, a interrogé hier le citoyen Iyad Hak, arrêté pour échange de tirs avec l’armée syrienne à travers les frontières, dans la région du Hermel (Békaa-Est).

L'Orient le jour - Breves - Plan sécuritaire de lutte contre la drogue au Liban-Sud, September 30, 2011

Les services de sécurité se mobilisent au Liban-Sud pour combattre la drogue depuis que le trafic de produits illicites et la toxicomanie se sont visiblement accrus récemment. Ainsi, les Forces de sécurité intérieure ont mis en place un plan pour mettre fin à la vente et l’usage de stupéfiants, et selon une source sécuritaire, les principaux dealers ont déjà été localisés en vue de leur arrestation. Les FSI se proposent d’étendre sur l’ensemble du territoire ce plan, qui prévoit notamment la création d’un centre de réhabilitation pour les toxicomanes. Hier, deux personnes ont été arrêtées pour usage de stupéfiants à Toul, au Liban-Sud. 

L'Orient le jour - Signature d’un accord entre l’UE et l’Unrwa pour améliorer les conditions de vie des réfugiés palestiniens, September 30, 2011

La signature de l’accord de coopération.
La signature de l’accord de coopération.

L’ambassadeur Angelina Eichhorst, chef de la Délégation de l’Union européenne au Liban, et le commissaire général de l’Unrwa, Filippo Grandi, ont signé hier un accord d’un montant de 12 millions d’euros pour renforcer le travail de l’Unrwa dans les camps de réfugiés palestiniens au Liban. Cet accord finance un projet qui vise à fournir pour la période 2011-2013 des logements adéquats aux familles de réfugiés palestiniens les plus vulnérables qui vivent au Liban. Le projet est financé par l’Instrument de stabilité (IdS), mécanisme qui permet à l’UE de répondre aux crises, de faciliter les processus de normalisation et d’empêcher toute nouvelle dégradation. En 2008 et 2009, l’UE avait déjà mobilisé l’IdS pour soutenir les actions de l’Unrwa au Liban-Nord, dans le but de créer les conditions préalables à la reconstruction du camp de Nahr el-Bared et à la relance de l’économie locale. À l’occasion de la signature de l’accord avec l’Unrwa, l’ambassadeur Angelina Eichhorst a indiqué qu’« en fournissant des fonds pour la réhabilitation de plus de 700 logements dans les camps palestiniens dans l’ensemble du Liban et en prenant en charge les coûts de location pour plus de 3 000 familles qui attendent de retrouver leurs maisons reconstruites dans le camp de Nahr el-Bared, l’UE apporte une preuve tangible de son engagement à poursuivre l’amélioration des conditions de vie des réfugiés palestiniens au Liban, en attendant que des solutions plus durables soient trouvées dans le cadre d’un accord de paix global négocié entre les autorités palestiniennes et israéliennes ». De son côté, le commissaire général de l’Unrwa, Filippo Grandi, a déclaré : « Cette contribution importante nous permettra d’améliorer substantiellement les conditions de vie déplorables de milliers de familles réfugiées pauvres, qui résident dans des logements insalubres ou dangereux dans l’ensemble du pays. Elle démontre, encore une fois, l’appui indéfectible de l’UE à l’Unrwa et aux réfugiés que nous assistons, et permet à l’Unrwa d’aider les personnes dans le besoin jusqu’à ce qu’une solution juste et durable à leur situation soit trouvée. » L’UE et ses États membres sont les plus grands bailleurs de fonds de l’Unrwa. Au total, prenant en compte l’aide humanitaire, le soutien fourni par l’Instrument de stabilité et l’Instrument européen de voisinage et de partenariat (IEPV), la Commission européenne a déboursé plus de 80 millions d’euros en soutien aux réfugiés palestiniens au Liban au cours des quatre dernières années, à travers l’Unrwa et d’autres partenaires. L’Unrwa fournit assistance, protection et plaidoyer pour les quelque 5 millions de réfugiés palestiniens au Moyen-Orient qui sont enregistrés auprès de l’Agence en Jordanie, au Liban, en Syrie et dans les territoires occupés, dans l’attente d’une solution à leur problème. Les services de l’Agence englobent l’éducation, la santé, la protection, le secours, les infrastructures et l’amélioration des camps, le soutien communautaire, la microfinance et l’intervention d’urgence, y compris en période de conflit armé. L’Unrwa est financée presque entièrement par les contributions des États. Le budget général de l’Agence pour 2010-2011 s’élève à 1,23 milliard de dollars. En 2009, les demandes d’aide d’urgence pour la Cisjordanie, Gaza et le Liban se sont élevées à 827,4 millions de dollars.

L'Orient le jour - Cortbawi soulève avec les avocats la crise de la magistrature, September 30, 2011

Le ministre de la Justice, Chakib Cortbawi, s’est rendu hier au siège de l’ordre des avocats, où il a rencontré la bâtonnière Amal Haddad, entourée des membres de l’ordre, d’anciens bâtonniers et des membres de la commission des retraités. « Je suis ici chez moi », a dit M. Cortbawi aux journalistes qui l’interrogeaient sur la raison de sa visite, avant d’ajouter que toutes les questions intéressant la profession ont été soulevées, et en particulier celle, cruciale, de la magistrature qui forme, avec l’ordre des avocats, un corps complémentaire.
« Nous œuvrons pour rétablir la confiance des Libanais dans leur justice et celle des juges en eux-mêmes », a-t-il dit, révélant ainsi la grave crise vécue au sein du corps de la magistrature, miné par les ingérences politiques et la vénalité.
« Cette crise ne disparaîtra pas par la langue de bois, a affirmé M. Cortbawi, même ceux qui tiennent ce genre de discours n’y croient pas. Nous coopérons à fond avec le Conseil supérieur de la magistrature et l’inspection judiciaire, et le courage moral nous commande de reconnaître l’existence d’une crise de confiance. »
« Je n’entrerai pas dans les détails », a dit le ministre, qui a souhaité que les obstacles auxquels se heurte la justice soient discutés à huis clos.
Pour M. Cortbawi, « l’heure des comptes a sonné (...) L’inspection judiciaire n’est pas une institution de pure forme, que je sache ; j’ai demandé à ses membres de passer à l’action et d’exercer leur autorité sur les juges et les fonctionnaires. S’il n’y a pas une véritable inspection judiciaire, nous ne pourrons rien faire », a insisté le ministre de la Justice.
Sur un autre plan, M. Cortbawi a annoncé que le Conseil supérieur de la magistrature aura « bientôt » un nouveau président et que le résultat du concours pour la nomination de nouveaux greffiers et auxiliaires de justice pourrait être annoncé à l’issue du prochain Conseil des ministres.
Enfin, M. Cortbawi s’est prononcé en faveur d’une augmentation des heures de travail des magistrats.

L'Orient le jour - Sayyed demande le dessaisissement de Daniel Bellemare, September 30, 2011

L’ancien directeur de la Sûreté générale, Jamil Sayyed, a déposé hier auprès de la chambre d’appel du tribunal international une requête dans laquelle il demande notamment le dessaisissement du procureur du Tribunal spécial pour le Liban, Daniel Bellemare, « en application de l’article 60 du règlement de procédure » ainsi qu’une indemnité « pour procédure abusive ». Rappelons que le bras de fer entre le procureur et M. Sayyed se poursuit au sujet de la demande formulée par l’ancien officier en vue de l’obtention de documents dont le bureau du procureur serait en possession, documents qui justifieraient la détention arbitraire de l’ancien directeur de la Sûreté quatre années durant. Dans sa requête, M. Sayyed récapitule « les principaux abus du procureur », notamment ce qu’il appelle « les manquements graves aux devoirs de tout officier public alors que le procureur était encore président de la commission d’enquête internationale et qui ont continué après l’acquisition par le procureur de sa présente qualité ».

L'Orient le jour - L’opposition au financement du TSL gagne de l’ampleur au sein du 8 Mars, September 30, 2011

Pour Layoun, les propos de Mikati ne reflètent que son « point de vue personnel ».
Les diverses composantes du 8 Mars continuent d’exprimer, sur un ton ascendant, leur hostilité à entériner la contribution libanaise au financement du Tribunal spécial pour le Liban, en dépit des assurances données par le chef de l’État et le Premier ministre à ce sujet lors de leur passage aux Nations unies.
Un ministre CPL du gouvernement Mikati, Gaby Layoun, a estimé hier que les propos tenus par Nagib Mikati sur ce plan ne reflétaient que « son point de vue personnel ».
« Nous partons d’une position de principe », a déclaré M. Layoun à la NTV. « Ce tribunal a été institué sur une base contraire à la Constitution et à la loi et nous n’acceptons pas que le montant que nous sommes censés verser soit comme un racket, car il est illégal. »
Un cran moins affirmatif, le député Nagi Gharios (Baabda), également du camp aouniste, s’est déclaré surpris de voir « le secrétaire général de l’ONU, les États-Unis et l’Occident en général réclamer du Liban qu’il respecte ses engagements à l’égard des résolutions internationales, alors qu’ils ferment les yeux devant la non-application par Israël des textes onusiens ».
« Le mécanisme d’institution du tribunal n’est pas constitutionnel et devrait être rectifié et le TSL devrait prouver qu’il ne travaille pas à partir de considérations politiques », a pour sa part souligné son collègue du Metn Salim Salhab, tout en évitant de se prononcer directement sur la question du financement.
De son côté, l’ancien ministre Youssef Saadé, proche du chef des Marada, Sleimane Frangié, a exprimé dans une interview à l’hebdomadaire Magazine le « désaccord » de sa formation pour ce qui est du financement du TSL. « Le tribunal est politisé et a commis de multiples erreurs », a-t-il répété.
Quant au Rassemblement des partis nationaux, qui regroupe le tandem Amal-Hezbollah et les formations proches du régime baassiste, il a clairement exprimé dans un communiqué non seulement son « refus du financement du TSL », mais aussi « des tentatives visant à trouver des issues (hors du Conseil des ministres) conduisant à maintenir la contribution financière du Liban ».
De l’autre côté de l’échiquier politique, la pression est mise sur le Premier ministre pour qu’il dise comment il compte traduire ses paroles en actes.
« M. Mikati ouvre des lettres de crédit à droite et à gauche mais sans succès, car ses partenaires au sein du gouvernement sont opposés au financement » du TSL, a ainsi souligné le député Mouïn Meraabi, du bloc du Futur.
Pour son collègue Nidal Tohmé, M. Mikati devrait « expliquer à l’opinion publique comment il compte s’y prendre avec ses alliés lorsque l’un lui demande de financer le tribunal de sa poche, l’autre parle de l’illégalité du TSL et le troisième, celui qui a le bras long au gouvernement, affirme que le simple fait d’accuser des individus qui relèvent de lui est un complot international et israélien ».
« Les engagements oraux, mêmes publics, ne suffisent pas », a renchéri Jamal Jarrah, également du bloc du Futur. « Le Premier ministre a déjà exprimé à plusieurs reprises son respect des résolutions internationales et donc du TSL. Mais tout ce que nous entendons jusqu’ici ce sont des déclarations et rien de concret. Nous attendons l’application », a-t-il dit.

September 29, 2011

Now Lebanon - Sleiman calls for adopting Fouad Boutros electoral law, September 29, 2011

President Michel Sleiman called on Thursday for adopting the Fouad Boutros electoral draft law.
“If lebanon wants to correct its political path, the electoral law proposed by the Commission on Electoral Law headed by [former Foreign Affairs and Emigrants] Minister Fouad Boutros must be implemented, amended or not,” Sleiman was quoted by the National News Agency as saying.
Sleiman also said that “the current electoral law had expired.”
The Fouad Boutros law called for many things, among them a proportional representation system with a mixture of caza-based votes and mohafaza-based votes; setting a 30% minimum quota for women on voting lists; lowering the voting age from 21 to 18; allowing registered Lebanese abroad to vote; giving the option of voting near one’s place of residence; counting of votes at the caza-level rather than the village or neighborhood level, which allows less room for vote-buying and pressure to vote certain lists; establishing an Independent Electoral Commission (IEC); restricting campaign finance; and regulating media coverage during electoral campaigns.

Now Lebanon - Haber says March 8 parties “obstructing” STL course, September 29, 2011

Kataeb bloc MP Fadi Haber on Thursday accused the Hezbollah-led March 8 coalition of “obstructing” the course of the UN-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL), which indicted four Hezbollah members for ex-Premier Rafik Hariri’s 2005 assassination.“[March 8] parties want to obstruct the tribunal in one way or the other,” Haber told the Voice of Lebanon (100.5) radio station.He added that the STL is seeks to “uncover the truth behind the murder [of political figures].”“Without achieving this justice, Lebanon cannot rise.”The March 8 parties – which currently dominate Lebanon’s cabinet – have opposed a clause in the Lebanese annual state budget pertaining to the funding of the tribunal.Four Hezbollah members have been indicted by the STL. However, the Shia group strongly denied the charges and refuses to cooperate with the court.Lebanon contributes 49 percent of the STL’s annual funding.

Now Lebanon - Jarrah: ‘Oral commitments’ to STL are not enough, September 29, 2011

Future bloc MP Jamal al-Jarrah said on Thursday that “oral commitments” are not enough, in reference to Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s statements reiterating Lebanon’s commitment to international resolutions.
“Oral commitments, even when made public, are not enough,” Jarrah told the Voice of Lebanon (93.3) radio station.
“What [would] be enough is really proving that the cabinet is committed to [paying its share] of funding to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) and [proving] that [the cabinet] does not want to subject Lebanon to a confrontation with the international community.”
Jarrah also said that the cabinet “must prove” that it wants to achieve justice and that it wants the UN-backed court to continue its work in order to stop political assassinations in Lebanon.
“All we have heard until now are statements. We have not seen any serious step [taken toward paying Lebanon’s share of funding to the STL],” the MP also said.
Jarrah also called on Mikati to find a “suitable formula” in his cabinet to pay Lebanon’s share of funding to the UN-backed court.
Lebanon contributes 49 percent of the STL’s annual funding.
Four Hezbollah members have been indicted by the STL probing the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. However, the Shia group strongly denied the charges and refuses to cooperate with the court.

Iloubnan - Inauguration of Package 1 of Nahr el-Bared camp and three UNRWA schools , September 29, 2011
Inauguration of Package 1 of Nahr el-Bared camp and three UNRWA schools
TRIPOLI |, with agencies - September 28, 2011
Under the patronage of His Excellency, the President of the Council of Ministers Mr. Najib Mikati, an inauguration ceremony took place today for “Package 1”, the first package of houses that is delivered to the displaced families of Nahr el Bared camp, and three UNRWA schools. Jointly hosted by the Lebanese-Palestinian Dialogue Committee (LPDC), the Embassy of Palestine in Lebanon, and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), the ceremony was attended by representatives of the Lebanese government, the Palestinian community, high level donor delegations as well as NGOs and other UN agencies.
Thanking UNRWA, the Lebanese Government, and the donor community, the Ambassador of Palestine to Lebanon Dr. Abdallah Abdallah said: “We affirm on this occasion that we as Palestinians in Lebanon, and in Nahr el-Bared in particular, hold tight to maintaining the best of relations with our kind Lebanese neighbors. Proceeding from this relationship, we call to mind how important it is that our brethren in this camp enjoy freedom of mobility on entry and exit, and that the fabric of social and economic ties with the surroundings be recovered. We are confident that the Government of Lebanon will be a solid source of support for this course of ours, which is in the interest of the sovereignty and stability of Lebanon and respect for its laws”. In addition to this, Ambassador Abdallah announced a new donation of $2 million from the PLO to the reconstruction of NBC and invited all the donors to do the same in order to speed up the reconstruction of the camp.

In his address on the occasion, the representative of the President of the Council of Ministers Minister of Social Affairs Wael Bou Faour paid tribute to all the martyrs of the Lebanese Army, and saluted the Palestinian community, and reiterated the commitment of the Lebanese Government to rebuild Nahr el bared camp and to continue its fund raising efforts. He added: “the Lebanese Government will endeavor to end the suffering of the Nahr el Bared displaced and improve the living conditions of all Palestinian refugees in Lebanon in order to enable them to live in dignity, until their return”.

“We are extremely grateful to all of our stakeholders for their support in helping to rebuild Nahr el Bared camp. The Government of Lebanon has remained a strong supporter throughout the process and we would not have reached this stage without them or the unwavering commitment of UNRWA’s generous donors”, said Filippo Grandi, UNRWA Commissioner General in his address during the ceremony. Addressing the refugees, Grandi said “I continue to be humbled by the dignity, and strength, demonstrated by the refugees of Nahr el Bared, despite the intolerable conditions of their prolonged displacement.” He continued, "While today is an important milestone, much more remains to be done to help the thousands of refugee families who remain displaced from Nahr el Bared after more than four years. I therefore appeal to our donors, particularly those in the region, to continue with their generous contributions to UNRWA so that the Agency can expedite the rebuilding of shelters and improve living conditions, until such time as a just and lasting solution to the refugees’ plight has been achieved.”

EU ambassador to Lebanon Mrs. Angelina Eichorst said in her address “our presence today is a sign of our commitment towards the Palestinian refugees who continue to live in very challenging conditions, therefore I join the UNRWA’s Commissioner General Filippo Grandi in calling on the Lebanese Government to facilitate access to the camp”.

The representative of the Saudi Fund for Development, Engineer Hassan Al Attas reiterated in his address the strong support of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the relief operations and specifically to Palestinian refugees in all host countries. He said “the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia donated $3 billion over the past years to support Palestinians through the Palestinian Authority and through UNRWA and other organizations”. Mr. Al Attas announced a new contribution of $10million, in addition to the SFD’s contribution of $ 25 million to packages 2 and 3.

Mr. Suleiman Jasir El Herbish, the Director General of the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID) that funded two UNRWA schools in Nahr el Bared said on the occasion “the Palestinian cause is one of OFID’s priorities and will always remain so. OFID believes that the most powerful weapon in the hands of the Palestinian youth is education”. He added: “In the Vienna Conference, we pledged to construct these two schools that we are inaugurating today. I can assure you that we will be the first present at any upcoming donors’ conference”.

The Director General and Chairman of Cayan Mr. Ahmed Al Hatti, chairman of Cayan company that funded the reconstruction of one school said: “the Palestinian community enjoy exemplary courage and dignity but what they need is hope that one day their suffering will end”. He added that one year ago, the construction of a new school in NBC seemed a far-fetched dream. But today it came true”. He also thanked the Welfare Association for making this contribution possible by highlighting the great need.

Two Palestinian students concluded the ceremony by saying “we suffered for four very long years from the loss of our homes, displacement, deprivation, harsh living conditions and rising unemployment. This is finally a great and historical day for the Palestine refugees in Lebanon and the refugees of Nahr el-Bared camp in particular. We affirm that our attachment to the camp is for no other reason than that we hold tight to right of return and consider it a bridge to achieving this return stipulated in UN Security Council Resolution 194. We urge you all to support projects that breathe life again into the camp, which was a commercial marketplace of the area. Here we ask the Government of Lebanon to work to resolve the problem of entry and exit by permits, and we call upon all the concerned to speed up the construction of the camp”.

UNRWA launched on 28 September 2011, a new appeal to fund its 2012 activities in Nahr el-Bared Camp, amounting to US$ 10 million and to support vulnerable Palestine refugees in Lebanon. Thus, UNRWA is seeking an additional US$ 15 million to carry out relief and recovery activities for vulnerable Palestine refugees throughout Lebanon in 2012. Overall, the Agency has secured around 40% of its funding needs for 2012. The Agency is seeking approximately US$ 26 million to meet its funding shortfall for next year. UNRWA hopes that additional funding will be mobilized to allow the Agency to implement projects in the areas of infrastructure, health care, education, employment and relief services for all Palestine refugees living in the camps throughout Lebanon.

Iloubnan - Salhab: Tribunal mechanism unconstitutional, September 29, 2011

Deputy Salim Salhab told on Thursday "Voice of Lebanon"-Freedom and Dignity radio "Tribunal mechanism is unconstitutional and for this reason it should be corrected", stressing that the mechanism solution is in the cabinet and not the parliament. The MP added that "Prime Minister Najib Mikati spoke several times about solutions for the funding of the tribunal during his visit to New York, but we still don't know what they are".

Naharnet - STL Funding Faces March 8 Obstacles, September 29, 2011

March 8 forces are holding onto their stance refusing to pay Lebanon’s dues to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon probing the assassination of ex-Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, al-Liwaa newspaper reported on Thursday.
Sources told the daily that the funding of the STL, that is expected to be tackled by the cabinet soon, will not be approved whether it was discussed during a session or away from the media spotlight.
However, PM Najib Miqati, President Michel Suleiman and more than 10 ministers agree on committing to the international obligation, the newspaper noted.
Sources said that the government is waiting for an official request by the United Nations to carry out the issue knowing that the funding must be made by the end of September, but Speaker Nabih Berri said that Lebanon’s payment of its share is not at the end of Sept. as some expected.
Miqati told pan-Arab daily al-Hayat that the funding of the STL is in everyone’s interest, he said: “I am betting on the patriotism of all sides inside the cabinet.”
“The funding and the implementation of international resolutions fall in Lebanon’s interest and I don’t think that anyone is against it,” he stressed.

Daily Star - Pirate porn DVD ring broken, 4 arrested, September 29, 2011

BEIRUT: Four members of a criminal gang involved in the sale of pornographic DVDs have been arrested by General Security, a security source told The Daily Star Wednesday.
The men, of Lebanese and Syrian nationality, had been promoting the sale of pirated copies of pornographic DVDs in different areas of the country, particularly in Jbeil, where they were apprehended, the source said on condition of anonymity.
The four were identified as Syrian nationals Shibli Mohammad Shibli, Younes Faisal Hussein and Mohammad Hasan Shibli, as well as Lebanese national Musa Haitham Ahmad.
The men have been referred to the relevant authorities and investigations are ongoing to uncover the remaining members of the ring and anyone else involved in the distribution of the pornographic material.
Earlier this month, General Security personnel cracked down on the sale of pornographic DVDs, while also closing two “adult” cinemas in Beirut and Tripoli.

Daily Star - Man arrested on warrants while reporting crime, September 29, 2011

BEIRUT: A man who had multiple warrants against him was arrested Wednesday when he went to a police station to file a complaint of an armed robbery, the National News Agency reported.
According to the NNA, Naim Abu Shahine filed a complaint at a police station in Tripoli that three men robbed him at gunpoint following a dispute.
While filing the complaint, Abu Shahine was arrested and taken into custody on several warrants.
Police are following up on his complaint and pursuing the three men.
Elsewhere, in Beirut’s southern suburbs, a dispute between members of the Zeiter and Kheireddine families led to a shootout on Lailaki Bridge at dawn.
The shooters fled the scene before police arrived but two of them were identified. No injuries were reported.

L'Orient le jour - Bar Association, Sader launch electronic legal database, September 29, 2011

BEIRUT: The Beirut Bar Association in collaboration with Sader Publishers launched an electronic legal database Wednesday in a bid to make legal information more accessible to lawyers in the country and across the region.
The Bar Association held a ceremony at its headquarters to celebrate the launch of the new electronic database or “legal portal,” in the presence of a large number of jurists, lawyers and apprentices.
“We are not exaggerating when we say that thousands – no, hundreds of thousands – of entries of legal information are now available to lawyers in a scientific and practical manner at the press of a button,” said Amal Haddad, head of the Bar Association.
During the ceremony, a member of the bar, Nader Kaspar, gave a detailed presentation of the legal portal and how to navigate it, specifying that lawyers would need a password to enter the site.
Joseph Sader, the head of Sader Publishers, a leading legal publishing house, explained that the legal portal would facilitate the work of lawyers and allow them to easily refer to legal provisions and interpretations.
“We have finally modernized the legal library and ensured correlation between Lebanese laws, the decisions of Courts of Cassation, and Sader’s legal publications,” he said, adding the database can be accessed by lawyers through the Bar Association’s website.
“Through this work, we aim to establish [in the country] a distinctive and exemplary legal library fit to be a reference for all states in the region,” he said.
Haddad emphasized the Bar Association’s interest in providing an opportunity for lawyers to view legal texts, courts’ jurisprudence, and scholarly legal literature speedily and accurately.
“The association plays a leading role in keeping pace with technological progress by finding a reference that ensures lawyers’ access to ‘legal knowledge,’ … [which is why] Sader legal publications is a strategic partner for the association,” Haddad said.
According to Haddad, the database includes a collection of “Lebanon’s laws,” a collection of legislative and regulatory texts enforced in the country since the Ottoman era, Sader’s collection on decisions issued by Cassation Courts since 1919 and Sader’s bestselling collection on legislation and jurisprudence.

L'Orient le jour - Breves - Justice

Inculpation d’un contrebandier d’armes

Le juge d’instruction au tribunal militaire, Imad el-Zein, a émis un acte d’accusation à l’encontre de Mohammad Hassan Ajam, de nationalité syrienne, accusé d’avoir acheminé des armes en Syrie, via la Békaa. Mohammad Ajam a été déféré devant le tribunal militaire permanent pour être jugé.

Le Conseil supérieur de la magistrature s’est réuni sous la présidence de Mirza

Le Conseil supérieur de la magistrature a tenu hier la première réunion de la nouvelle année judiciaire sous la présidence du procureur général près la Cour de cassation, le magistrat Saïd Mirza. Au cours de cette réunion, les commissions ad hoc ont été formées.

Faits divers
Arrestation d’un réseau de marketing de films X

Les Forces de sécurité intérieure ont arrêté un réseau libano-syrien impliqué dans le marketing de films pornographiques dans différentes régions libanaises, notamment à Jbeil. Quatre personnes ont été arrêtées (trois Syriens et un Libanais) et remises aux autorités judiciaires compétentes. L’enquête se poursuit pour identifier les autres membres du gang et le réseau qu’ils utilisent pour distribuer ces DVD.

Vol à Tripoli

N. A. Ch. a déposé plainte dans le poste de gendarmerie du Tell à Tripoli contre O.M.M. et les frères Samer et Samir F. qui lui ont volé une grosse somme d’argent sous la menace d’une arme. N. A. Ch. a toutefois été arrêté, parce qu’il s’était avéré que plusieurs mandats d’arrêt avaient été émis à son encontre. Sur instruction du parquet, les forces de sécurité sont à la recherche des trois autres voleurs.

L'Orient le jour - Breves - Environment

La pluie jugule les essaims de fourmis volantes au Akkar
Les pluies qui sont tombées dans la nuit de mardi et hier ont réussi à juguler l’étendue des essaims de fourmis volantes qui avaient envahi des villes et villages du jurd de Kaiteh au Akkar, s’introduisant dans les maisons. Plusieurs de ces fourmis se sont même accrochées sur les feuilles des arbres fruitiers, notamment les pommiers et les poiriers, menaçant de détruire les récoltes.

Campagne de nettoyage à Beddaoui
Dans le cadre de la campagne qu’elle mène pour préserver la propreté générale, l’association des scouts de l’environnement a nettoyé hier le jardin public situé sur la route principale de Beddaoui, au Liban-Nord. Les volontaires ont balayé le jardin, ramassé les poubelles, désherbé et arrosé les arbres et les plantes du jardin.

L'Orient le jour - Financement du tribunal : la polémique bat son plein, September 29, 2011

Le ministre de l’Économie Nicolas Nahas (proche du Premier ministre) a démenti détenir des informations sur un possible amendement du protocole entre le Liban et le Tribunal spécial. Il a appelé dans ce cadre à « cesser le débat sur le financement du TSL », faisant remarquer que toutes les parties ont précisé leur point de vue, et que c’est désormais en Conseil des ministres que le sujet doit être examiné. S’agissant de l’opposition au financement exprimée par le chef du Courant patriotique libre Michel Aoun, M. Nahas a estimé que « la prise de position d’une partie du gouvernement n’est pas celle de tout l’exécutif », celle-ci étant exprimée par le président de la République et le Premier ministre, qui ont tous deux « insisté sur l’engagement du Liban à l’égard des résolutions internationales ».
De son côté, le député Atef Majdalani, membre du bloc du Futur, a rappelé que « le gouvernement est obligé d’exécuter la résolution 1757 (instaurant le TSL), et de financer le tribunal ». Pour lui, ce financement est « une dette » que le gouvernement devrait honorer au risque de mettre à la charge du Liban une nouvelle dette à l’égard des Nations unies, « et d’en essuyer les répercussions négatives ». Le député a rappelé dans ce cadre que « le dernier mot revient, au sein de ce gouvernement, au Hezbollah qui l’a formé, et au régime syrien. Il est clair que le Hezb ne torpillera pas le cabinet, puisqu’il est peu probable que l’occasion de former un nouveau gouvernement se présente à lui de nouveau ».
Pour sa part, le député Ammar Houry du bloc du Futur a salué les propos « positifs » du Premier ministre Nagib Mikati sur le financement du TSL, avant de préciser que « nous attendons que ces déclarations se traduisent en actes, d’autant que les échos des partenaires de M. Mikati au sein du gouvernement s’élèvent telles des interférences contre le financement du tribunal ».
Commentant les propos de M. Mikati à New York, le député Ahmad Fatfat, du même bloc, a fait remarquer que ses déclarations « prennent en compte la politique internationale, non la politique locale ». Le député a exprimé ainsi sa crainte que les prises de position du Premier ministre devant la communauté internationale ne constituent pour lui qu’un « prélude pour déclarer après coup son incapacité à assurer le financement du TSL, qu’il soutient pourtant ».
Pour sa part, le député du bloc du Futur Riad Rahhal a répondu à l’appel du député Michel Aoun lancé au Premier ministre pour qu’il finance le TSL de sa propre poche. « Le général Aoun est lui aussi un grand commanditaire, il pourrait bien participer un peu au financement du tribunal », a estimé M. Rahhal, avant de conclure que « rien n’affectera la marche du TSL, dont le financement sera assuré. S’ils veulent jouer avec le feu (en refusant ce financement), ils feront entrer le Liban en confrontation avec la communauté internationale ».
Par contre, le député du bloc du Changement et de la Réforme Nabil Nicolas a estimé que l’appel de Michel Aoun se base sur le principe que « les dépenses ne doivent s’effectuer sans le vote d’une loi au Parlement. (...) Ils ne peuvent réclamer le financement du TSL sans une loi ». Pour lui, « ce financement ne doit pas se faire par des méthodes miliciennes ».
Enfin, le député Alain Aoun, du même bloc, a estimé que « tant que le financement du TSL n’a pas été examiné en Conseil des ministres, il restera dans le cadre des prises de position politiques ». M. Aoun a toutefois assuré que « l’échéance du financement passera et que le gouvernement restera en place ».

L'Orient le jour - Jeannette Youssef : Mes parents sont morts en murmurant le nom de mon frère disparu, September 29, 2011

Par Nada MERHI

Jeannette Youssef, ses frères et sa sœur poursuivront leur quête jusqu’à ce que le sort de leur frère Milad soit enfin dévoilé.
Jeannette Youssef, ses frères et sa sœur poursuivront leur quête jusqu’à ce que le sort de leur frère Milad soit enfin dévoilé.

Le sort de milliers de Libanais disparus durant la guerre civile et la période qui l’a suivie, sous la tutelle syrienne, reste inconnu. Pour que ce dossier vieux de plus de trente ans ne reste pas occulté et relégué aux oubliettes, « L’Orient-Le Jour » relatera chaque semaine le témoignage d’un parent en quête de vérité sur le sort d’un disparu.
Milad Habib Youssef était soldat et accomplissait son devoir lorsqu’il a été enlevé le 30 août 1983, à l’âge de 18 ans, sur la route de Moucharrafiyé à Hay el-Sellom. Il venait de s’enrôler dans l’armée. Depuis sa disparition, sa famille a eu quelques informations le concernant, mais « nous n’avons jamais pu le revoir », déplore Jeannette Youssef, sa sœur, qui depuis le 11 avril 2005 observe aux côtés de nombreuses familles un sit-in permanent dans le jardin Gibran Khalil Gibran, place Riad el-Solh, jusqu’à ce que le sort des centaines de personnes disparues soit révélé.
Jeannette Youssef raconte ainsi qu’en 2008, un ancien détenu « nous a affirmé que Milad était à la prison de Palmyre ». Des années plus tôt, un ancien détenu palestinien en Syrie « nous avait dit que dans chaque nouvelle cellule où il était transféré, mon frère inscrivait sur le mur une même phrase : “30 août 1983, la journée noire” ».
Benjamin d’une famille de cinq enfants (trois garçons et deux filles), Milad Youssef prenait en charge ses parents. « Ils ont tout fait pour le retrouver et obtenir sa libération, se souvient Jeannette Youssef. Leurs efforts ont été vains. Ma mère s’est même rendue en Syrie pour demander de lui. Elle n’a pas pu le voir. » Digne dans sa tristesse et sa souffrance, elle poursuit, la voix nouée : « Jusqu’à leur mort, ils n’ont pas arrêté de le chercher. Ma mère est décédée en 2005. Elle n’avait qu’un seul souhait : revoir Milad, même le temps de quelques secondes, avant qu’elle ne quitte ce monde. Sa disparition lui a brisé le cœur. Malade, elle ne pouvait plus parler. Au cours de ses derniers jours, elle s’adressait à nous par des signes. Elle nous disait : “Lorsque mon bien-aimé rentrera, qu’il frappe à la porte du cimetière pour me dire qu’il va bien.” Après la mort de ma mère, mon père n’a pas tenu le coup longtemps. Il lui a survécu un an et demi. Sur son lit de mort, il nous a regardés un à un et nous a demandé : “Où est Milad ?” Ils sont morts tous deux en murmurant son nom. »
Dix ans après l’enlèvement de Milad, le commandement de l’armée l’a déclaré mort. « Au début, mes parents avaient refusé de l’admettre, mais ils ont fini par se résigner, pour pouvoir continuer à toucher sa pension et à bénéficier des soins médicaux au compte de l’armée, indique Jeannette Youssef. Le commandement de l’armée l’a aussi proclamé martyr. Mais mes frères, ma sœur et moi attendons toujours de connaître la vérité. Nous espérons. Nous ne baisserons pas les bras. La persévérance à défendre un droit sera toujours récompensée. Nous finirons par obtenir gain de cause. »
Jeannette Youssef se lève et retire le portrait de son frère d’un sac en nylon où sont rangées les photos ternies par les longues années d’attente et d’espérance de plusieurs dizaines de personnes portées disparues ou détenues dans les prisons syriennes. Elle le caresse tendrement, l’embrasse et se demande : « Quel crime a-t-il commis ? Milad s’est enrôlé dans l’armée pour défendre son pays. Mais son pays n’a pas su le défendre. Regardez la manière dont il a été récompensé ! S’il avait commis un crime, il aurait fini de purger sa peine ! Il a disparu depuis bientôt vingt-huit ans. Que Dieu puisse émouvoir le cœur de nos responsables et qu’ils se décident enfin à résoudre définitivement ce dossier ! Nos détenus ont assez souffert. Dans tous les pays du monde, les gouvernements se mobilisent pour obtenir la libération de leurs otages ou prisonniers. Pourquoi notre gouvernement n’agit-il pas ? Plusieurs de nos responsables ont gardé de bons termes avec la Syrie, qu’ils réclament une réponse à ce dossier. Les familles ont le droit de connaître la vérité. Nous ne pouvons plus continuer à vivre dans le doute et l’incertitude. Ce dossier est humanitaire par excellence et doit par conséquent constituer une priorité, d’autant que certains détenus seraient encore vivants. »
« Nous ne baisserons pas les bras, insiste encore d’une voix déterminée Jeannette Youssef, après un bref moment de silence. Mes parents sont morts et nous poursuivrons la quête. C’est notre frère. Nous ne pouvons pas le lâcher. Nous devons connaître la vérité pour que nous ayons le cœur net et pour que mes parents puissent enfin reposer en paix. Récemment, j’ai rêvé de ma mère. Elle me disait : “Je n’ai pas vu Milad, continuez à le chercher.” Même au fond de sa tombe, elle n’est pas en paix ! »

L'Orient le jour - Pour le 14 Mars, le TSL est la pierre angulaire sur laquelle reposent la paix civile et le projet d’un État viable, September 29, 2011

Le secrétariat général du 14 Mars, réuni hier à Achrafieh. Photo Michel Sayegh
Le secrétariat général du 14 Mars, réuni hier à Achrafieh. Photo Michel Sayegh

Le secrétariat général des forces du 14 Mars a renouvelé hier son appel au Premier ministre Nagib Mikati et à l’ensemble des responsables à respecter concrètement les résolutions internationales, notamment vis-à-vis du financement du Tribunal spécial pour le Liban.
Le secrétariat a tenu sa réunion hebdomadaire à Achrafieh en présence du député Ammar Houry, des anciens députés Farès Souhaid, Élias Atallah et Moustapha Allouche, et de MM. Eddy Abillamaa, Youssef Doueihy, Vatcheh Nourbatlian, Élias Abou Assi, Hrair Hovivian, Nawfal Daou et Nadim Abdel Samad.
Le secrétariat a évoqué les visites des responsables libanais à Washington et New York, notamment celle du Premier ministre Nagib Mikati « qui se bat pour gagner une légitimité internationale pour son gouvernement en s’engageant verbalement à respecter les résolutions internationales ».
S’adressant à ces responsables, le secrétariat général du 14 Mars a rappelé que « le Tribunal spécial pour le Liban est la pierre angulaire sur laquelle reposent la paix civile et l’édification d’un État viable sur base de l’application de la loi à tous, pas seulement aux civils mais aussi à ceux qui prétendent qu’ils sont forts parce qu’ils possèdent des armes ».
Le secrétariat a également rappelé que « le gouvernement présidé par Nagib Mikati comprend des ministres du Hezbollah, parti dont certains membres sont accusés jusqu’à présent d’avoir commis les assassinats dont nous avons été témoins au Liban ». « Il vaudrait mieux que le Premier ministre Mikati s’engage également à remettre à la justice internationale les accusés dont les noms et les photos ont été rendus publics par les médias », note le communiqué du 14 Mars.
Autre rappel formulé par le 14 Mars aux responsables, celui de « respecter intégralement les résolutions internationales, surtout la 1701 et la 1757, notamment en ce qui concerne le financement du Tribunal international, et ce à travers une décision explicite issue du Conseil des ministres ».
Le secrétariat a enfin mis l’accent sur « la nécessité de ne pas transformer les marchés financiers, économiques et bancaires du Liban en poumon financier du régime syrien, qui se livre aux actes les plus atroces de répression, de terrorisme, de torture et d’assassinats contre un peuple dont le seul crime est de vouloir vivre ».
Le secrétariat général a par ailleurs répondu à des propos tenus hier par Mahmoud Comaty, l’un des responsables du Hezbollah, qui avait affirmé hier dans le cadre d’un meeting à Aramta (Liban-Sud) que « les armes du Hezbollah constituent une nécessité pour la protection et la préservation de la coexistence ». « Ces armes sont illégales, illégitimes et ne font pas l’objet d’un consensus. Elles constituent la raison essentielle pour laquelle la loi n’est pas appliquée, et représentent un facteur qui peut exploser à n’importe quel moment à la face des Libanais, comme le prouvent les événements du 7 mai 2008 et l’incident des chemises noires, qui a garanti les résultats du coup d’État contre la majorité parlementaire » en janvier dernier, ajoute le communiqué du 14 Mars.

Soutien à la démarche palestinienne
Le secrétariat général a par ailleurs salué la démarche « historique et audacieuse » de l’OLP à l’ONU, réclamant une résolution du Conseil de sécurité qui reconnaîtrait l’édification de l’État palestinien indépendant avec Jérusalem-Est pour capitale. Le 14 Mars a estimé que cette démarche constitue « un tournant fondamental dans la vie de la région, dans la mesure où elle donne un signal clair en faveur du coup d’envoi du printemps palestinien, corollaire du printemps arabe ».
Le secrétariat général a en outre renouvelé son attachement à l’accord de Taëf, « lequel considère que l’État doit posséder le monopole de la décision politique, administrative, économique, sécuritaire et militaire dans le pays ». Le secrétariat a mis en garde contre « la violation persistante de ce fondement souverainiste, qui n’est pas sans se répercuter sur la convivialité et sa pérennité ». Il a enfin rendu hommage aux positions exprimées samedi par le chef des Forces libanaises, Samir Geagea, qui « reflètent des convictions unanimes fondamentales propres aux forces du 14 Mars ».

September 28, 2011

Iloubnan - Financing the STL is a debt owed to the UN, says Majdalani, September 28, 2011

Future bloc member MP Atef Majdalani told Voice of Lebanon radio station that the cabinet has an obligation to finance the Special Tribunal for Lebanon because this is a debt owed to the United Nations, warning of grave coinsurances if this step is not taken. "The final word on this issue is for Hezbollah which literally formed this cabinet in order to serve the interest of the Syrian regime and it is obvious that Hezbollah will not squander the government," the MP said. He dismissed the possibility of the formation of a new cabinet if the current government resigned. "Despite its criticism of the tribunal, Hezbollah does not want and has no means to confront the international community. This cabinet will leave a string with the international community."

Iloubnan - Not mentioning international tribunal in spritual summit's statement undermines justice, says Jarrah, September 28, 2011

MP Jammal Jarrah denounced on Wednesday to al-Fagr radio station, the failure of the spiritual summit in Dar al-Fatwa to mention the international tribunal in their statement, warning that this would "undermine justice and legalizes political assassination which leads to the threatening of national unity since it is national principles". The MP welcomed any summit at any time because it expresses unity and coexistence within the civilized state. Finally, Jarrah denied his knowledge about the meeting which was held between Mufti Rashid Qabbani and former Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, adding that "the reason behind this meeting was to clarify issues".

Now Lebanon - Lebanon must provide its share of STL funding, Ban tells Mikati, September 28, 2011

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon met with Prime Minister Najib Mikati in New York on Tuesday and told the latter that the Lebanese government must “provide [its share of] funding for the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL)” probing the 2005 assassination of former PM Rafik Hariri.
The National News Agency reported that Ban also voiced the “UN’s support for Lebanon’s prosperity and territorial integrity,” as well as the organization’s “relief over the cooperation between the Lebanese army and the UNIFIL.”
Mikati, in turn, said that “Lebanon is proud to be a founding member in the UN,” and reiterated Lebanon’s “respect for international resolutions, including the STL.”
Hezbollah-led March 8 parties – which currently dominate Lebanon’s cabinet – have opposed a clause in the Lebanese annual state budget pertaining to the funding of the tribunal.
Lebanon contributes 49 percent of the UN-backed STL's annual funding
Four Hezbollah members have been indicted by the STL. However, the Shia group strongly denies the charges and refuses to cooperate with the court.
The PM also met with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, who said following the meeting that Ankara “favors peaceful and democratic change in [the Middle East].”
Prime Minister Najib Mikati arrived in New York on Sunday accompanied with some of his cabinet’s ministers to chair sessions of the UN Security Council, which Lebanon heads for the month of September.

Now Lebanon - Mikati says STL funding will be discussed in the upcoming weeks, September 28, 2011

Prime Minister Najib Mikati said on Tuesday that the funding of the UN-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) will be discussed in the upcoming weeks.
“The STL funding will be discussed in the upcoming weeks… and Lebanon will have to suffer if the subsidy is not approved,” the National News Agency quoted him as saying.
“The [country] that benefits from not funding the STL is Israel… which will then have a motive to not implement the UN [Security Council] Resolution 1701,” he added.
Hezbollah-led March 8 parties – which currently dominate Lebanon’s cabinet – have opposed a clause in the Lebanese annual state budget pertaining to the funding of the tribunal which is probing the 2005 assassination of former PM Rafik Hariri.
Four Hezbollah members have been indicted by the STL. However, the Shia group strongly denied the charges and refuses to cooperate with the court.
The PM also addressed Lebanon’s relation with Syria.
“Lebanon has a historical relation with Syria, and good economic transactions are taking place between the two countries even if now they are harmed by the recent developments [in Syria],” he added.
Mikati also said that he will go to Syria when he kicks off his official visits abroad and will discuss the border demarcation between the two countries.
Mikati added that, given the current situation in the region, Lebanon has no choice but to be neutral.
The UN says that the Syrian regime's crackdown on protests that erupted in mid-March has killed more than 2,700 people. 
The premier addressed the issue of maritime border with Cyprus saying that a treaty with Cyprus exists, but it was not ratified by the parliament, adding that “this does not mean that Lebanon cannot start oil and gas drilling within its waters.”
In July, Israel's cabinet approved a map of the Jewish state's proposed maritime borders with Lebanon, which is to be submitted to the UN.
Following Israel’s approval of the map, Energy Minister Gebran Bassil countered that Lebanon will not give up its maritime rights. Lebanon and Israel differ on their interpretation of the maritime border.

Now Lebanon - Majdalani warns of “negative” outcome if cabinet fails to fund STL , September 28, 2011

Future bloc MP Atef Majdalani on Wednesday warned of “negative repercussions” on Lebanon if the government does not provide its annual share of funding to the UN-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL).“If the government does not commit to UN Security Council Resolution 1757, [which called for the creation of the STL], there will negative repercussions [on Lebanon],” Majdalani told the Voice of Lebanon (93.3) radio station.“Hezbollah has the say in this matter,” the MP added, in a reference to the Hezbollah-led majority in the Lebanese cabinet.He also said that the Shia group “does not have the capability to confront the international community… hence the cabinet will maintain [diplomatic ties] on the international level.”The STL indicted four Hezbollah members for ex-Premier Rafik Hariri’s 2005 murder. However, the Shia group ruled out the arrest of the four suspects and labeled the court a “US-Israeli conspiracy.”The Hezbollah-led March 8 parties – which currently dominate Lebanon’s cabinet – have opposed a clause in the Lebanese annual state budget pertaining to the funding of the tribunal. Lebanon contributes 49 percent of the STL’s annual funding.

Now Lebanon - Nicolas: Some should fund STL out of their ‘own pockets’, September 28. 2011

Change and Reform bloc MP Nabil Nicolas said on Wednesday that the parties calling for providing Lebanon’s share of funding to the UN-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) should do it “out of their own pockets.”“Those who are in a rush to fund the tribunal should do it out of their own pockets, and they will be refunded when [parliament] passes a bill that deals with the matter,” the MP told Al-Manar television.He added that “spending [public funds] should only be done after a relevant bill is ratified in parliament.”Change and Reform bloc leader MP Michel Aoun said on Tuesday that Prime Minister Najib Mikati, who reiterated commitment to the STL, should fund it “out of his pocket.The STL indicted four Hezbollah members for ex-Premier Rafik Hariri’s 2005 murder. However, the Shia group ruled out the arrest of the suspects.The Hezbollah-led March 8 parties – which currently dominate Lebanon’s cabinet – have opposed a clause in the Lebanese annual state budget pertaining to the funding of the tribunal.Lebanon contributes 49 percent of the STL’s annual funding.

Now Lebanon - Alain Aoun says STL funding will be discussed in cabinet, September 28, 2011

Change and Reform bloc MP Alain Aoun said on Wednesday that the funding of the UN-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) will be discussed during cabinet sessions.
“Today, every party is voicing its political stance, but when this topic is going to be discussed in the cabinet, then all parties are going to voice their fears [concerning the STL],” he told New TV station.
“If the matter of the STL funding has not yet been discussed in the cabinet, every [public stance] is considered a [mere] political [opinion],” Aoun added.
Hezbollah-led March 8 parties – which currently dominate Lebanon’s cabinet – have opposed a clause in the Lebanese annual state budget pertaining to the funding of the tribunal which is probing the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.
Four Hezbollah members have been indicted by the STL. However, the Shia group strongly denied the charges and refuses to cooperate with the court.
The Free Patriotic Movement official also said that the Maronite Patriarchate is impartial when it comes to supporting political parties.
The patriarch has faced criticism by some figures of the Western-backed March 14 coalition after his recent statements in France supporting the Syrian regime and Hezbollah’s arms.
However, the patriarch later commented on the aforementioned statements and said that they “were taken out of context and have nothing to do” with his personal opinion.

Now Lebanon - Lebanon indicts man for smuggling arms into Syria, September 28, 2011

Military Investigative Judge Imad Az-Zein indicted on Wednesday a Syrian national for smuggling arms into Syria from Lebanon’s Bekaa region, where he was caught with weapons.
The National News Agency reported that Mohammad Hassan Ajam was transferred to the military court for trial. No further information was disclosed.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s troops have cracked down on protests against almost five decades of Baath Party rule which broke out mid-March, killing over 2,700 people, according to the United Nations. The regime has blamed “armed gangs” for the recent unrest.

Now Lebanon - Khoury believes cabinet will approve STL funding , September 28, 2011

Environment Minister Nazem al-Khoury said in an interview published on Wednesday that he believes that the cabinet will approve the funding of the UN-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) probing the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.
Khoury told Al-Jumhuriya newspaper that President Michel Sleiman has never recanted his position concerning international resolutions and the role that the United Nations plays in South Lebanon.
President Sleiman said in his United Nations that Lebanon is committed to the STL funding and to all international resolutions.
Hezbollah-led March 8 parties – which currently dominate Lebanon’s cabinet – have opposed a clause in the Lebanese annual state budget pertaining to the funding of the tribunal which is probing the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.
Four Hezbollah members have been indicted by the STL. However, the Shia group strongly denied the charges and refuses to cooperate with the court.

Now Lebanon - March 14 says STL guarantees “peace, state-building”, September 28, 2011

The March 14 General Secretariat on Thursday said that the UN-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL), which linked Hezbollah members to the 2005 murder of ex-Premier Rafik Hariri, guarantees “peace and state-building.”
In a reference to the Shia group, March 14 said that the STL ensures the implementation of laws for not only “unarmed civilians, but also for those who have weapons and think they are strong.”
The secretariat called on Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s government to be committed to handing over those indicted by the court.
It also urged the cabinet “to honor its commitments to international resolutions… and provide its annual share of funding to the STL.”
The STL indicted four Hezbollah members for ex-Prime Minister Rafik Hariri’s assassination. However, the Shia group denied the charges and ruled out the arrest of the suspects.

The Hezbollah-led March 8 parties – which currently dominate Lebanon’s cabinet – have opposed a clause in the Lebanese annual state budget pertaining to the funding of the tribunal.

Lebanon contributes 49 percent of the STL’s annual funding.

Daily Star - Justice minister thanks Berri for judges’ pay raise, September 28, 2011

BEIRUT: Justice Minister Shakib Qortbawi visited Speaker Nabih Berri Tuesday and expressed his gratitude for the recently passed law, doubling judges’ salaries, while promising to improve the judiciary’s performance. The National News Agency said Berri received Qortbawi, who was leading a delegation from the Higher Judiciary Council and the Shura Council’s bureau.According to Qortbawi, the aim of the visit was to thank Berri for the personal effort he made to pass the law. “We have come to thank [Berri] and say, ‘You’ve treated us fairly,’” Qortbawi said. 

Daily Star - Man detained in Naqoura still being questioned, September 28, 2011

BEIRUT: Lebanese Army Intelligence Tuesday was still questioning an Israeli-Arab man who turned up on a beach in south Lebanon after swimming from Israel. Investigators are trying to determine whether Ahmad Jamal Daif entered Lebanese waters after getting lost at sea or whether he was on a mission, a security source told The Daily Star Tuesday. A statement issued by the Lebanese Army Monday said army intelligence arrested a man who had swum from Nahariya Beach in Israel to the beach of Naqoura in south Lebanon. 

Daily Star - Issue of Civil War displaced presents fresh obstacles, September 28, 2011

BEIRUT: Although 20 years have passed since the end of the Civil War, Lebanese lawmakers working to resolve the issue of displaced families are facing new obstacles.
Parliament’s Committee for the Displaced discussed Tuesday how to add several villages to the government’s list of 28 villages and towns whose residents were displaced and now live elsewhere in the country and abroad.
“Every now and then, the committee finds out that there are other villages where families were displaced, and they are not listed in the government’s database,” Zahle MP Shant Janjanian said.
Most of the towns and villages in the database are in the Chouf.
Janjanian, who chairs the Committee for the Displaced, said that years of delay in compensating displaced families following the Civil War has made the cost of reconstruction a greater financial burden for the government.
“What used to cost less than LL1 billion now costs the ministry more than LL150 billion,” said Janjanian, referring to the budget for the Ministry for the Displaced, which is tasked with aiding families who left their homes as a result of the 1975-90 Civil War. The ministry’s brief doesn’t cover the displaced of south Lebanon, who are under the jurisdiction of the Council for the South.
Inflation has made expenditures drastically higher over the years, the MP added.
According to the Central Bank, the inflation rate for the past two years has ranged between 6 and 7 percent.
“The government’s inability to allocate the necessary funds over the past two decades, and the political bickering, have failed to solve the problems of the displaced,” he added.
Janjanian said that agreements reached by the governments of both former Prime Minister Saad Hariri and Prime Minsiter Najib Mikati have set aside a sum of approximately LL157 billion for the displaced for 2010-13.
Janjanian said that if the funds are funneled to the Central Fund for Displaced, the task of the Ministry for the Displaced could be concluded within three years.
Following the committee’s meeting at Nijmeh Square Tuesday, Janjanian told reporters that all members of the committee want to deliver the compensation needed by families and “end the issue” of the displaced.

Daily Star - Estonia denies paying a ransom for cyclists, September 28, 2011

BEIRUT: Estonia’s Foreign Ministry denied Tuesday that Tallinn had paid a ransom for the release of seven Estonian nationals kidnapped in Lebanon and held for more than 100 days.
A Foreign Ministry spokesperson said it had not provided any money to kidnappers during the operation to liberate the captives, following Interior Minister Marwan Charbel’s comments last week suggesting that payment was involved.
“We have nothing to add to the fact that the government doesn’t negotiate with terrorists,” a spokesperson for Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet told The Daily Star by telephone. “We said that the Estonians were released after of the result of a joint operation [with Lebanese security forces].”
When pressed if the ministry could confirm that the Estonian government had not provided a ransom, the spokesperson responded: “Yes.”
Last week Lebanese police shot and killed what it said were two key suspects in its investigation into the abduction, a development that prompted Charbel to disclose that a ransom was involved in the seven men’s July release. He warned that other criminal groups could be encouraged to abduct foreigners in the Bekaa Valley for financial gain.
“At long last, Lebanon got confirmation that a ransom was indeed paid [in the kidnapping case] which has stirred up a craving for kidnap-for-ransom,” the minister told The Daily Star.
Charbel added in a statement that the two men killed in the police raid had been plotting to kidnap other foreigners, and that the deceased were responsible for the April killing of Internal Security Forces Officer Rashed Sabri, in the Bekaa town of Majdal Anjar, who was part of a patrol tasked with hunting the Estonian’s captors.
The seven cyclists were snatched at gunpoint from the outskirts of the town of Zahle as night fell on March 23, 2011. Security forces made several arrests in the wake of the kidnapping but the Estonians were not located until they turned up at the French Embassy in Beirut 113 days later.
The previously unheard of Haraket Al-Nahda Wal-Islah (Movement for Renewal and Reform) claimed responsibility for the kidnapping and reportedly asked for an unspecified ransom during the seven’s detention. The publication Intelligence Online, citing Lebanese security sources, alleged that $5 million had been paid during release negotiations.
Tallinn has repeatedly rebuffed the notion that a ransom was involved in securing the men’s release, although the details of the rescue remain a mystery.