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

Search This Blog

January 31, 2012

Naharnet: Cabinet to Tackle ‘Legality’ of Providing Intelligence Branch with Telecom Data

The cabinet session on Tuesday is expected to be jammed with heated issues topped with the telecom data dispute which has stirred political controversy over the legality of providing the Internal Security Forces Intelligence Branch with the telecommunications records.
According to newspapers published Tuesday, the issue will be discussed out of the cabinet’s agenda during the session at the Baabda Palace.
The parliamentary telecom committee visited on Tuesday the phone call interception command center at the interior ministry.
Information obtained by the ISF Intelligence Branch on the alleged plot to assassinate high-ranking security officials, including its chief Col. Wissam al-Hassan, stirred the debate over the legality of providing security authorities with the telecom data to track phone communications.
Sources told An Nahar daily that the committee tasked with verifying the legality of intercepting the calls “refuted the demands of the ISF and the General Security Department in order to preserve the personal freedoms which are protected by the constitution.”
Head of the committee Hatem Madi told the daily that “article 140 (of the law) limited the interception of phone calls, and the law is above everyone.”
Telecommunications Minister Nicolas Sehnaoui held a meeting with President Michel Suleiman at the Baabda Palace on Tuesday.
He told As Safir that he will bring up the issue during the cabinet session so that the government takes the appropriate decision.
“There should be certain limits, especially when the law doesn’t cover us as a telecommunications ministry,” Sehnaoui stressed.
According to the daily, the minister will base his argument on the results of the parliamentary telecom committee’s visit to the command center, which will be briefed on the mechanism and the standards followed in the interception of calls.
The parliamentary telecommunications committee secretary, MP Ammar Houri, denied that there was an agreement with Sehnaoui to conceal the telecom data from the security services, al-Liwaa daily reported.
The minister was in the past 13 days refusing to reveal any data after he agreed with Interior Minister Marwan Charbel during a meeting of the telecom committee to control the amount of information handed over to security forces out of concern for the infringement of people’s liberties, according to As Safir newspaper published on Monday.
Houri noted that the March 14-led opposition expects from the cabinet to abide by the law, saying that the telecommunications minister and the cabinet would be responsible for any security breach in the country.
Meanwhile, Sehnaoui said that the cabinet will tackle the possibility of renewing the contracts of MTC and Alfa mobile phone operators.
“The two companies agreed three days ago, after exhausting negotiations, on the tough conditions set by the ministry,” he told An Nahar newspaper.
Al-Joumhouria newspaper said that the cabinet will approve extending the contracts of the two companies on the condition of dividing their profits to 40 percent on the postpaid lines and to 60 percent on the prepaid lines.
The two companies will also have to implement the national plan to improve the quality of service which includes buying 400 new stations and setting 1,200 antennas.

Naharnet: Bank Robbery Attempt in Suburbs Goes Down the Drain

The plan of two masked gunmen to rob a bank in Beirut’s southern suburbs went down the drain on Tuesday after the manager and employees set off the alarm, the National News Agency reported.
NNA said that the armed thieves entered the Fransabank branch of Burj al-Barajneh in broad daylight and ordered the staff to hand them the cash.
But the bank manager and the employees confronted them and forced them to flee after they heard the alarm, NNA said.
It added that the two men threw away their masks near the bank and took a secondary road to escape the scene on a motorcycle.
Police launched an investigation to identify the assailants.

January 30, 2012

Naharnet: Alleged Plot to Kill al-Hassan Brings Back Telecom Data to the Spotlight

Confusion on telecom data has become a new source of contention after Telecommunications Minister Nicolas Sehnaoui reportedly withheld information from the Internal Security Forces Intelligence Branch over an alleged plot to assassinate its chief Col. Wissam al-Hassan.
According to An Nahar daily published Monday, Sehnaoui, who is loyal to Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun, gave the Intelligence Branch information on telecom data on Friday for only 24 hours after he was informed about the alleged plot.
The minister was in the past 13 days refusing to reveal any data after he agreed with Interior Minister Marwan Charbel during a meeting of parliament’s telecom committee to control the amount of information handed over to security forces out of concern for the infringement of people’s liberties.
“Agreement was reached at the telecom committee meeting in the presence of Sehnaoui and Charbel around two weeks ago to guide the obtainment of data … and abide by the law that notes the need to limit the demand for the data depending on the nature of the security flaw,” As Safir newspaper said.
It added the law also calls to accompany the data obtainment request with a judicial authorization that would be submitted to the phone call interception command center at the interior ministry, which in its turn would coordinate with the telecom minister on the needed steps.
In remarks to An Nahar, Sehnaoui confirmed that the decision to limit the data release was made during the committee meeting after Charbel stressed that there was no need to hand over the Intelligence Branch information on a daily basis.
“There are two types of data: Those linked to the wiretapping of all Lebanese and in all of Lebanon and the data linked exclusively to certain security cases,” he said.
The minister stressed that he will discuss the issue during a cabinet session on Tuesday.
Charbel sought to limit the tension on the issue after the opposition-led March 14 forces accused Sehnaoui of intentionally withholding the data for political reasons given that the head of the ISF, Maj. Gen. Ashraf Rifi, is pro-March 14.
Charbel discussed the issue with President Michel Suleiman on Monday morning.
He told An Nahar that he would also meet with the telecom minister to settle the issue after the “misunderstanding” that created the tumult.
But Sehnaoui denied in remarks to OTV that he would hold talks with Charbel, saying he would only discuss the issue during Tuesday’s cabinet session.
The head of the telecom committee, MP Hassan Fadlallah, said the committee will visit on Tuesday the wiretapping control center at the interior ministry that was inaugurated in November.
During ex-Premier Saad Hariri’s tenure, then Telecom Minister Charbel Nahhas, who is also loyal to Aoun, was accused by the March 14 forces and Rifi of ignoring requests for data linked to the probe into former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri’s Feb. 2005 assassination.
He claimed that he ignored the requests of documents relating to the phone records of Lebanese citizens because they were contrary to Lebanese law as concerns the secrecy of telecom records.

Naharnet: Bellemare Reportedly Refused to Postpone Release of New Indictment

Special Tribunal for Lebanon Prosecutor Daniel Bellemare refused to postpone the release of a new indictment until the renewal of the STL’s cooperation protocol, according to al-Liwaa newspaper published Monday.
An opposition parliamentary source told the daily that Bellemare’s discussions with Lebanese officials during his farewell visit to Beirut last week increased the political tension in the country.
“This explains the Free Patriotic Movement’s escalation (concerning local issues), which is driven by its allies (Hizbullah),” the source said.
However, Bellemare didn’t disclose during his meetings with Lebanese senior officials if Pre-Trial Judge Daniel Fransen will issue new indictments in the attacks on the three officials that have been linked to ex-Premier Rafik Hariri’s murder.
According to al-Liwaa, the second alleged indictment that is expected to be issued soon includes so far only the names of Lebanese suspects. The first, which was issued in Hariri’s case in August, accused four members of Hizbullah.
Last week, the pan-Arab daily al-Hayat published a report saying that Fransen has made a progress in preparing the indictments in the assassination attempts of MP Marwan Hamadeh, ex-Defense Minister Elias Murr, and the murder of former Communist party leader George Hawi.
A Lebanese senior official, who held talks with Bellemare, said that the international community is convinced that the STL is of “great importance,” especially to halt political assassinations.
“It is keen on supporting the work of the STL that is abiding by the transparency and the justice policies,” the official stressed.
Bellemare arrived in Lebanon last Tuesday on a farewell tour of Lebanese officials to mark the end of his tenure as prosecutor.
He will leave his post in March, but his successor has not yet been revealed.
Former Information Minister Tareq Mitri told An Nahar published on Monday that the Lebanese cabinet’s decision over the extension of the cooperation protocol with the STL isn’t binding as the U.N. chief has the final decision.
Lebanon's mandate with the U.N. as concerns the STL expires at the end of February. Under the protocol establishing the STL, the mandate may be renewed without Lebanese approval if the court has not completed its work.
“U.N. Chief (Ban Ki-moon) sets the timeframe of the extension in consultation with the Lebanese government and the U.N. Security Council,” Mitri stressed.
Asked about what Prime Minister Najib Miqati can do concerning the issue, he said: “We don’t know the procedures that he will follow.”
“The cabinet doesn’t have to discuss the matter as the renewal of the cooperation protocol happens automatically,” the daily quoted Mitri as saying.

Source: Naharnet

Naharnet: Gemayel Reveals Ongoing Contacts with Syria Opposition over Missing Lebanese

Phalange Party leader Amin Gemayel said on Monday that there are ongoing contacts with a number of Syrian officials, including the head of the opposition Syrian National Council Burhan Ghalioun.
“The contacts are aimed at inquiring about the Lebanese missing in Syria,” Gemayel said in a press conference.
He revealed that the party obtained information about Boutros Khawand, who was kidnapped near his home in the Metn on September 15, 1992 while on his way to work.
However, the Syrian authorities deny that he was in their custody.
Gemayel noted that the party “respects the free people’s will.”
He tackled the final statement issued by the “International Union for the Centrist Democratic Parties Conference”, saying that high-ranking international and regional officials attended the meeting.
“We agreed on the slogan of democracy and freedom,” Gemayel said.
The Phalange Party called for an international conference under the title “The International Union for the Centrist Democratic Parties Conference,” which was held on Friday.
He considered that the presence of international and regional officials in Lebanon demonstrated their “support for Lebanon’s stability and sovereignty.”
“The Union announced its support for the establishment of democratic regimes and condemned violent practices against people,” Gemayel stated.
He said that the Union has decided to establish a regional center in Beirut.
Asked about the March 14-led opposition Cedar Revolution, Gemayel pointed out that “the person who doesn’t acknowledge its principles will not be recognized by history.”
“We refuse to take Lebanon back in time. The Lebanese community is unique and it’s in no one’s interest to reject democracy,” he stressed.

Naharnet: Mokhaiber: We Will Meet with Mirza to Discuss Aisamy Kidnapping

Member of the parliamentary Human Rights Committee MP Ghassan Mokhaiber stressed on Monday that officials are following up on the kidnapping of Syrian opposition member Shebli al-Aisamy.
He said after holding talks with a delegation from the captive’s family that MP Akram Shehayeb is following up on the issue, adding that they will be holding a meeting with General Prosecutor Saeed Mirza to this end.
Al-Aisamy’s daughter Rajaa Sharafeddine meanwhile described her father’s case as “purely humanitarian”.
“His ongoing imprisonment and Syria’s failure to heed calls for his release will only negatively affect the regime,” she added.
She hoped that the regime would comply with local and international human rights committees’ calls for Aysamy’s release.
She stressed that her family will not rest until her father is freed.
The al-Aisamy delegation had held talks on Wednesday with United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon ad interim Robert Watkins who revealed that the Syrian opposition member’s case had been referred to the highest international judicial authorities.
Al-Aisamy, 86, a co-founder of Syria's ruling Baath party, who fled his native country in 1966 over political differences, was last seen in May in Aley.

Source: Naharnet

Naharnet: LF Bloc Demands Govt. Uncover Fate of Lebanese Missing in Syria

The Lebanese Forces parliamentary bloc urged the government on Monday to take a firm stand against Syria’s repeated violations of Lebanon’s sovereignty in the North and Bekaa.
It said in a statement: “The government should also uncover the fate of Lebanese who recently went missing in Syria, as well as the fate of Lebanese prisoners in Syrian jails.”
The bloc made its statement after holding a meeting headed by LF chief Samir Geagea.

Two Lebanese and Syrian have been missing for a week after they traveled to Syria to visit relatives.
Unconfirmed reports said that the three individuals have been killed.
The LF bloc also praised the Syrian National Council’s open letter to the Lebanese people, saying that it meets Lebanese aspirations that had not been met since their country’s independence.
The Syrian National Council had proposed, among other issues, that agreements between Lebanon and Syria be revised.
Addressing Culture Minister Gaby Layyoun’s refusal to mention the 2005 Cedar Revolution in official school history books, the Lebanese Forces said: “This goes against the will of the majority of the Lebanese people.”
Layyoun had stated on Sunday: “I don’t recognize the Cedar Revolution and it should not be mentioned in history books because it was backed by foreign powers, specifically the United States.”

Source: Naharnet

January 29, 2012

Naharnet: Army Arrests 3-Member Drug Trafficking Network in South

The Lebanese Army Intelligence has arrested a three-member drug trafficking gang in the southern town of Harouf, Voice of Lebanon radio station (93.3) reported Sunday.
It said the arrest was made at dawn Sunday.
VDL quoted security sources as saying that the leader of the network is a Palestinian named Ahmed al-Kurdi, who resides in the Palestinian refugee camp of Sabra.
The suspects have been referred to the involved judiciary for questioning, the radio station said.

January 28, 2012

Naharnet: Miqati Requested from Bellemare Delay in Announcing Hamadeh, Murr Indictments

Prime Minister Najib Miqati had requested from Special Tribunal for Lebanon Prosecutor Judge Daniel Bellemare that he delay the release of the indictment in the assassination attempts of former ministers Marwan Hamadeh and Elias al-Murr, reported al-Joumhouria newspaper on Saturday.
He hoped that the indictment would be revealed after Lebanon approves the renewal of its cooperation protocol with the STL.
There are fears that the protocol would not be renewed over Hizbullah’s refusal to cooperate with the tribunal.
For his part, Bellemare reportedly told the premier that he could not link the investigation to political matters, adding that once he has an indictment, he will be obligated to release it.
He therefore declined the Miqati’s request.
The prosecutor noted however that Pre-Trial Judge Daniel Fransen has the authority to choose to publish the indictment at the time he deems appropriate.

Bellemare had arrived in Lebanon on Tuesday on a farewell tour of Lebanese officials to mark the end of his tenure as prosecutor.
He had held talks on Friday with Interior Minister Marwan Charbel, Internal Security Forces chief Ashraf Rifi, and General Security head Abbas Ibrahim.
He revealed throughout his talks in Lebanon that he had formed a “very strong” case in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, one which he will be proud of for the rest of his life, reported the daily An Nahar on Saturday.
He had informed Charbel of the tribunal’s insistence to pursue the investigation until the very end, adding that there can be no backing down from investigating the crimes that had taken place in Lebanon since 2004.
As Safir newspaper meanwhile reported on Saturday that Bellemare will leave his post in March.
His successor has not yet been revealed.
The STL announced in December that Bellemare has informed U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon that, for health reasons, he does not intend to seek reappointment for a second term as prosecutor at the end February.
As Safir said that he had emphasized during his talks with various Lebanese officials the need to disregard the accusations that the STL is politicized.
He explained that the attack against the tribunal is a sign that it is moving on the right track.
He revealed that the next indictment to be released by the STL would concern the assassination attempts against Murr and Hamadeh and the assassination of former Lebanese Communist Party leader George Hawi.
Bellemare did not rule out the possibility that the accused in his first indictment concerning Hariri’s assassination would be linked to these three crimes.
On Friday, the prosecutor, accompanied by his team, visited the office of State Prosecutor Saeed Mirza where he met with Hamadeh, journalist May Chidiac, and Suzy Madayan, Hawi’s widow.
Last week, the pan-Arab daily al-Hayat published a report saying that Fransen has made a progress in preparing the indictments in the Hamadeh, Murr, and Hawi cases.
According to the report, Bellemare has referred to Fransen his probe into the three cases and that the pre-trial judge is preparing the indictments pending their release.
The court has already indicted four Hizbullah members in Hariri’s February 2005 assassination. But Lebanese authorities have so far failed to arrest them.
Ministerial sources told As Safir that the prosecutor was keen not to discuss key issues with Lebanese officials during a three-day farewell visit before the end of his mandate at the end of February.
Bellemare expressed his gratitude to Lebanon, the sources said.
He also discussed the stages of his work with the STL as the head of U.N. International Independent Investigation Commission (UNIIIC) to his appointment as the STL’s prosecutor and the release of the indictment in Hariri’s assassination.

Naharnet: Aoun’s Call for Demonstration Paving Way for 2013 Electoral Battle

Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun’s “unprecedented” attack against the political class may be early signs of his preparations for the 2013 parliamentary elections battle, reported al-Liwaa newspaper on Saturday.
Informed political sources told the newspaper: “He is seeking to fortify his position in Lebanon seeing as he has started to detect that he has lost supporters in favor of his political adversaries.”
They added that the “victims” of the MP’s call for demonstration will be President Michel Suleiman’s efforts to resume the national dialogue and the government’s efforts in reaching an agreement on various appointments and the state budget.
The sources did not rule out the possibility that Aoun’s demonstration may take on the characteristics of the March 8 sit-in in Downtown Beirut that lasted from 2006 until 2008.
The March 8 camp launched the sit-in in December 2006 in an effort to topple former Premier Fouad Saniora’s government, crippling Downtown Beirut in the process and further raising political tensions between the rival March 8 and 14 camps.
The sources added however that Aoun’s true purposes for the demonstration remain unknown, wondering whether he is seeking to achieve immediate or future gains.
They speculated that he may be aiming to topple Prime Minister Najib Miqati at a time when the latter is preparing to travel to France on February 9.
The Special Tribunal for Lebanon may also be the FPM leader’s target seeing as the time for the renewal of its cooperation protocol with Lebanon is nearing.
In addition, they did not rule out the possibility that Aoun may be seeking to create instability in Lebanon in order to lift the pressure off Syria, which has come under international scrutiny over the ruling regime’s ongoing violent crackdown against protesters.
Aoun on Friday launched a vehement attack against the entire political class in Lebanon, accusing it of “conspiring” against the ministers of the Change and Reform bloc.
“I accuse the entire (political) system of conspiring against us and this intimidation will not scare us. We accuse everyone and let those accusing us demonstrate their evidences. We have the documents to prove that they are thieves,” he said at a meeting with FPM coordinators in Sin el-Fil.
The MP therefore called on his supporters to “choose the mobilization method and be ready to stage demonstrations to tell the ‘state-joint-stock company’ that its era is over, and we will only meet them in court.”

Naharnet: Report: Sadr Was Alive until 1994, Arab States Hindering Capture of his Kidnappers

Lebanon obtained conflicting reports that Imam Moussa al-Sadr was alive during the 2011 military operation in Libya, while others said that he was alive until 1994, reported As Safir newspaper on Saturday.
Informed sources told the newspaper that Sadr was alive in Libya until 1994 and after that “no trace of him remained.”
They did not specify whether he is still alive or dead.
They added that the Libyan judicial delegation that had visited Lebanon recently sought to obtain documents on the cleric’s disappearance that are in the Lebanese judiciary’s possession.
They explained that the documents Libya had on the case were destroyed during the 2011 military campaign that ousted Libyan ruler Moammar Gadhafi.
In addition, the sources revealed that some suspects in Sadr’s disappearance had fled Libya.
Some of the suspects have fled to Arab states, said the sources.
Furthermore, they noted that it has been very difficult to get in touch with them given the strict measures being adopted by the Arab countries to prevent their arrest.
For its part, Lebanon had urged the Libya delegation to speed up investigations in Sadr’s disappearance, saying that every delay will harm the case.
Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour held talks on Thursday with Libyan judges Mahmoud al-Yasir and Abdul Latif Qaddour on the ongoing investigation into the disappearance of Sadr and his two colleagues.
Libya is probing the mysterious disappearance of Sadr who went missing in Tripoli 33 years ago.
Earlier in January, Mansour visited Libya in order to follow up on the investigation.
He had held talks with the head of the Libyan National Transitional Council Mustapha Abdul Jalil and a number of other officials.
Sadr, a charismatic and revered Shiite spiritual leader, and two aides, Mohammed Yacoub and Abbas Badreddine, had been officially invited to Libya in 1978 during the rule of Moammar Gadhafi along with an aide and a journalist.
But the three men have not been heard of since and Tripoli had always maintained that the cleric had left Libya for Italy.
Since the mysterious disappearance of Sadr, ties between Libya and Lebanon have been strained.

Naharnet: ISF Thwart Prison Break at Roumieh Prison by Fatah al-Islam Inmates

Internal Security forces thwarted an escape attempt this week by Fatah al-Islam inmates in Roumieh prison, according to media reports on Saturday.
Prisoners tried to escape from Roumieh prison Bloc B through a hole they dug in one of the cells, which apparently leads to an abandoned factory nearby, shut down after fire broke out in it two years ago.
According to MTV, a prison guard was alerted by the sounds the inmates were making.
He informed the security forces and the plan was foiled.
The channel added that the hole was 40 centimeters in width; however, the inmates needed 20 more centimeters to be able to complete their break out attempt.
In August, five inmates, including Fatah al-Islam terrorist network members, escaped the prison by scaling down the building's walls with bed sheets before mixing with visiting relatives and walking out of the compound with them.
Fatah Al-Islam battled the Lebanese army two years ago in the Palestinian refugee camp of Nahr al-Bared in northern Lebanon.
Roumieh, the oldest and largest of Lebanon's overcrowded prisons, has witnessed sporadic prison breaks in recent years and escalating riots over the past months as inmates living in poor conditions demand better treatment.

Les mains vides

Par Anne-Marie El-HAGE | 28/01/2012

CITOYEN GROGNON C’est avec tambour et trompette que nos chers ministres de l’Intérieur et de la Santé se sont rendus à la prison de Roumieh, en ce début d’année. Flanqués des plus hauts responsables sécuritaires, des élus les plus à la page dans les affaires liées aux droits de l’homme et de la presse, bien entendu.
Pour constater de leurs propres yeux les conditions désastreuses de détention des prisonniers. Pour toucher de près la grande misère des malades, livrés à eux-mêmes, sans médecins et sans soins, et la profonde détresse des mineurs, enfermés des mois durant, dans l’attente d’un jugement. Pour comprendre l’injustice et la négligence qui caractérisent le système carcéral libanais dans son ensemble, à savoir l’extrême lenteur des procédures judiciaires, le clientélisme ambiant, le manque de qualification du personnel carcéral et la promiscuité des prisonniers entassés dans des cellules mal aérées, dans des conditions d’hygiène repoussantes. Pour ne citer que ces quelques points parmi tant d’autres.

Quoi de plus naturel pour un homme politique que de faire son devoir ? Donc de bien connaître son dossier et les éléments qui le constituent, et de chercher des solutions aux problèmes qui entravent son bon fonctionnement ?
À part que cette visite à Roumieh frôle le voyeurisme et ressemble fort à de la poudre aux yeux, à l’heure où la pourriture du système carcéral libanais n’est plus un secret pour personne, pour avoir été au cœur d’un matraquage médiatique de longue haleine.
Sans compter que c’est les mains vides que les officiels ont rendu visite aux prisonniers. Entraînant la déception générale, non seulement des détenus, mais de leurs familles et des associations qui tentent de leur apporter un quelconque soutien. Sans médicaments, ni équipements, ni personnel médical, ni même la moindre proposition d’amélioration, voire de changement. À part les quelques traditionnelles condamnations d’usage qui caractérisent la classe politique locale, dans son ensemble.
Sans la moindre allusion à la réforme du système carcéral, entamée sur base d’un plan quinquennal en 2008, avec l’assistance technique de l’Office des Nations unies contre la drogue et le crime (Onudc). Et qui aurait déjà dû être à sa phase finale, pour s’achever en 2012.
Une réforme qui consiste notamment dans l’amélioration des conditions de détention dans l’ensemble des prisons du pays et dans le transfert de l’autorité des prisons du ministère de l’Intérieur au ministère de la Justice. Mais qui semble ne devoir jamais voir le jour, tant elle a pris du retard.
Y a qu’à constater l’absence criante du ministre de la Justice à Roumieh, le jour de cette fameuse visite officielle... 

January 27, 2012

Naharnet: Report: Syrian Probe Holds Fishermen Responsible for Arida Incident

Syrian authorities have said in their official report on the probe into the death of a 16-year-old Lebanese fisherman that his boat was in Syrian territorial waters when he was shot, informed sources told An Nahar daily published Friday.
The sources said that the head of the Higher Syrian-Lebanese Council, Nasri Khoury, handed over the report to President Michel Suleiman on Thursday.
Maher Hamad was killed on Saturday after the Syrian navy opened fire on his boat off the northern Lebanese town of Arida. His uncles Fadi and Khaled Hamad, who were with him, were seized and handed over to the Lebanese army the next day.
Khaled, 35, was treated for gunshot wounds to the leg while his brother Fadi, 36, said he was taken to a military intelligence center in the Syrian coastal town of Tartus where he was beaten and interrogated on whether he was an arms smuggler.
While An Nahar’s sources refused to give more details on the report, they stressed that no one can approach the area where the incident took place without any prior permission from the Lebanese army.
But informed sources denied to al-Joumhouria newspaper that Khoury handed over the report to Suleiman.
They said that Khoury only explained to the president the circumstances of the incident and the contacts made by high-ranking Lebanese officials, including Suleiman, which led to the release of the two fishermen and the body of the teen.
Khoury also met with Premier Najib Miqati at the Grand Serail on Friday.
When asked about the incident, he said: “The Syrian side carried out a full investigation and I believe the Lebanese army has all the information linked to the probe.”
“If Lebanon wants to have a copy of the investigation, then Syria is ready to provide it,” he added.

Naharnet: Collapse of Inhabited 2-Storey Building Sparks Panic in Akkar

A two-storey building collapsed on Friday in the Akkar town of Bebnin, reportedly leaving one person wounded.
“The collapsed building in Bebnin belongs to citizen Zakariya Soufan and it was inhabited by six people; however, the divine providence rescued everyone,” Al-Manar television reported.
“But the collapse sparked panic, especially that there are a lot of cracked buildings in the region,” Al-Manar added.
For its part, Future News television reported that “teenager Bashar Soufan was wounded when the ceiling of his family’s house collapsed in Bebnin.”
The recent collapse of a building in the Ashrafiyeh neighborhood of Fassouh in which 27 people died has put the spotlight on the dismal state of run-down properties across the country that many say are "ticking time bombs".
The tragedy on January 15 saw a six-storey apartment block crumble to the ground within minutes, burying residents, many of them foreign laborers, who had no time to scramble to safety.
The collapse sparked widespread anger and accusations that successive governments had failed to address a problem staring them in the face.
Although there are no firm statistics, the streets of the capital are dotted with derelict buildings lined with cracks, missing balconies and rusting grids which stand in stark contrast to shiny new high rises.
"The problem of unsafe housing is not limited to Beirut -- it's spread throughout Lebanon," said Rached Sarkis, a civil engineer and founder of the Lebanese Association of Seismic Hazard Mitigation.
"Prior to 2005, buildings in Lebanon did not have to meet international standards as the government had not passed a decree to that effect," he told Agence France Presse.
"Developers took advantage of the situation to maximize profit at the expense of public safety."
Compounding the problem is the fact that many buildings in Lebanon were built illegally, especially during the 1975-1990 civil war. Some owners added new floors to existing apartment blocks with no permits.
"Many buildings were also built prior to the 1971 construction law which requires structural study before building," said MP Mohammed Qabbani, head of the parliamentary committee for public works.
"It's a random, haphazard operation," he added. "The building that collapsed seemed to have no metal grid. It lacked the basic foundations."
And there are many more like it across the city, experts warn.

Source: Naharnet

January 26, 2012

Naharnet: Delegations from Beirut and Tripoli Bar Associations End STL Visit

A delegation from the Beirut and Tripoli Bar Associations, led by the Chairmen Nouhad Jabre and Bassam Daye, paid a visit to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon on Wednesday, announced the STL in a statement.
The participants were received by the President of the Tribunal and the three other Heads of Organ or their representatives.
They attended legal presentations by representatives of Chambers, the Registry and, among others, the Head of the Victims Participation Unit, the Office of the Prosecutor and the Defense Office.
In addition, participants had the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the courtroom and its technical and electronic features.
They were able also to find out about the measures taken for the protection of the witnesses, as well as those for hearings by videoconference.
Participants were reminded in this context that the accused may, subject to a number of procedural conditions and with authorization from the Chamber, participate in the hearings by way of videoconference link.
Daye, of the Tripoli Bar Association praised the tribunal’s insistence on achieving truth and justice and protecting the rights of the defense.
“Everyone emerged with a positive impression and the consensus was that the right to agree or disagree on legal matters is legitimate and that the tribunal is an establish reality and everyone has to interact with it and present their legal concerns to it,” he said.
The head of the Beirut Bar Association, Jabre stated: “We look forward to repeating this experience with other colleagues who will gain the knowledge in the fired of international law which is unavailable to them in Lebanon.”
This visit enabled the participants to put many questions and gave the speakers the opportunity to explain that the tribunal operates outside of any political influence.
“Its sole aim is to hear and determine cases and render justice, by holding trials that are fair, with equality of arms between the prosecution and the defense, with the participation of the victims, and observing the highest international standards,” explained the STL statement.

January 23, 2012

Naharnet: Report: Bellemare to Discuss with Charbel Results of Lebanese Probe

Special Tribunal for Lebanon Prosecutor Daniel Bellemare is expected to hold a series of talks with Lebanese officials during a two-day farewell visit to Beirut on Thursday.
An Nahar daily said Monday that Bellemare will discuss with Interior Minister Marwan Charbel the results of the investigations carried out by the Lebanese security agencies on issues linked to the court’s work.
The STL has indicted four Hizbullah members in the February 2005 assassination of ex-Premier Rafik Hariri. But Lebanese authorities have so far failed to arrest them.
The court announced in December that Bellemare has informed U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon that, for health reasons, he does not intend to seek reappointment for a second term as prosecutor at the end of next month.
"It has been an honor and a privilege to seek justice for the people of Lebanon. While this long and difficult journey is far from over, solid foundations have been laid to achieve justice and accountability for the attack of 14 February 2005 and connected cases, through the rule of law," Bellemare said in a statement.
Informed sources told pan-Arab daily al-Hayat last week that Bellemare will meet with former Defense Minister Elias Murr, MP Marwan Hamadeh and the family of slain ex-communist party leader George Hawi.
The attacks on the three officials have been linked to Hariri’s murder.

Naharnet: Report: Most Lebanese Expatriates Not Willing to Participate in 2013 Polls

The Foreign Ministry prepared a report concerning the numbers of Lebanese expatriates expected to vote during the 2013 parliamentary elections, An Nahar newspaper reported on Monday.
The foreign Ministry based its information on reports prepared by more than 70 Lebanese missions around the world on the number of expatriates expected to vote.
According to An Nahar, Lebanon’s political parties are eying the Lebanese in foreign countries in order to mobilize supporters to get a boost in the upcoming elections.
Lebanese officials are exerting efforts in order to formulate an electoral draft law that ensures a sound parliamentary representation of sects.
However, there’s no agreement yet over the issue, as the Maronite leaders agreed on the Orthodox Gathering’s proposals which called for each sect to elect its own MPs based on the proportional representation.
The proposal was rejected by a number of officials including Interior Minister Marwan Charbel who is tasked with preparing the new electoral draft law.
An Nahar said that the foreign ministry’s report includes some “critical” facts as the numbers of Lebanese expatriates willing to elect during the 2013 elections is almost 0 percent, knowing that the deadline for registration is by the end of 2012.
According to the daily, most expatriates in the Arab world might seem unwilling to register in Lebanese missions to vote there as they prefer to return to Lebanon to practice their electoral rights because of the close distance between the countries.
However, those who are in Europe and the U.S. seem reluctant to participate in electing the Lebanese parliament by not registering themselves, as they might find it difficult to return to Lebanon to elect.

The Daily Star: Lebanon's Arabic press digest - Jan. 23, 2012

Bellemare in Beirut Thursday, Friday
It seems that the government, which will celebrate its first anniversary under Prime Minister Najib Mikati on Jan. 25, has a busy week ahead, one loaded with issues including: the state budget; public appointments; a bloody incident at sea; contacts made to contain the repercussions of the incident at sea; and the power cuts crisis, which has resulted in the escalation of the phenomenon of road blockades in protest.
To make things worse, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri joined Hezbollah in criticizing Energy Minister Gibran Bassil.
Amid all this, the issue of an elections law was again at the forefront. An-Nahar is publishing a summary of a detailed report prepared by the Foreign Ministry, based on information made available from more than 70 Lebanese embassies and concular missions. The report also includes a map indicating the distribution of the Lebanese in the world, and the number of voters expected.
Regarding the issue of electricity, Hezbollah MP Hasan Fadlallah held the government responsible for the ongoing power cuts and called for a fair distribution of power.
Bassil responded, saying “the worst is yet to come” regarding power rationing.
Later Sunday, visitors of Berri quoted the Speaker as criticizing Bassil. They said Berri believs Bassil should tell the Lebanese the truth about what is going on.
Representatives of Hezbollah and Berri in south Lebanon and the Bekaa had earlier harshly criticized the chronic power outages.  
Meanwhile, Special Tribunal for Lebanon President Daniel Bellemare will make a two-day farewell visit to Lebanon Thursday and Friday.
An-Nahar has learned that Bellemare will meet Interior Minister Marwan Charbel on Friday to discuss the outcome of the Lebanese probe into the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

Authorities contain Arida boat incident
Electricity threatening to "burn" the government
As residents of the border town of Arida buried teenager Maher Hamad, a comprehensive picture has emerged of the circumstances surrounding the Lebanese fishing trawler incident that left Hamad dead.
As it turns out, the facts contradict several statements made in public.
Sources close to the presidential palace told As-Safir that President Michel Sleiman held intensive talks aimed at containing the incident, which paved the way for the release of the three kidnapped Lebanese.
As for the electricity crisis, more popular protests were held in south Lebanon and the Bekaa Valley as well as in Mount Lebanon, Iqlim Kharroub and Beirut’s southern suburbs in protest against power cuts.
Protesters blocked roads with burning tires. Things very nearly got out of hand for the struggling municipalities, municipal unions and the various political forces.
Bassil told As-Safir that several sides were to blame for hindering a solution to the electricity crisis.
Bassil: “The government should know that it has two options – either Cabinet and Parliament together bear immediate responsibility and take appropriate steps to push the frozen projects forward, or [the government] as a whole will become threatened because the electricity issue does not only burn the minister but the government.”

The Daily Star: Lebanese demand Army on border after teen killed

ARIDA, Lebanon: A funeral for a Lebanese teenager killed by Syrian naval forces gave way to anger Sunday in the Lebanese border town of Arida, with residents chanting anti-Syria slogans and calling for the deployment of the Lebanese Army on the tense Lebanese-Syrian frontier to protect Lebanese citizens.
Three fishermen, identified as Fadi Hamad, 37, his brother Khaled Hamad, 33, and their nephew Maher Hamad, 17, were kidnapped by Syrian security forces Saturday morning after a Syrian naval vessel crossed 3 kilometers into Lebanon’s territorial waters.
Maher was shot in the stomach and killed when Syrian forces fired in the direction of the trawler, Arida residents said. There has been no statement so far from the Lebanese Army about the incident. Syria’s official news agency SANA said Syrian coastal guards in Tartous intercepted “a Lebanese smuggling boat trying to infiltrate Syrian territorial waters from north Lebanon.” It accused the crewmen of trying to escape, while “five Lebanese boats in Lebanese territorial waters opened fire on the boat, which resulted in the wounding of two of its members.”
Syrian officials have accused Lebanese factions of smuggling weapons to Syria.
Intensive high-level contacts made Saturday between Lebanon and Syria resulted in the release by Syrian authorities of Fadi and Khaled Hamad and the repatriation of Maher’s body, the state-run National News Agency reported.
At 1 a.m. Sunday, families of the fishermen headed to the Abboudiyeh border crossing to receive the two freed men while a Civil Defense vehicle transported the body of the slain teenager.
Sources told The Daily Star that the release occurred as a result of efforts by President Michel Sleiman and Syrian President Bashar Assad in coordination with the Lebanese-Syrian Higher Council.
During the funeral procession in Arida, angry residents stormed the border crossing, throwing rocks at the Syrian outpost and shouting anti-Syrian slogans. Lebanese Army personnel held back young men who tried to cross into Syria territory.
The funeral procession began from Hamad’s residence in Arida. Amid chants of “there is no God but God and a martyr is God’s beloved,” mourners proceeded to the town’s mosque for prayers, while bereaved black-clad women wailed. Following prayers led by the Imam of Benin’s Mosque, the victim was laid to rest in Arida’s cemetery.
According to Arida residents, the three fishermen were in their boat inside Lebanese territorial waters in Arida preparing to set sail and throw their nets when they were approached by a Syrian fishing boat.
The boat carried Syrian security agents, who tried to arrest the three fishermen. The fishermen resisted, prompting the Syrians to fire on them in order to force them to accompany them to Syrian territory after killing Maher and wounding Khaled in his leg, the residents said.
Speaking to reporters about their ordeal, Fadi Hamad, wounds and scars of torture visible on his body, said they were in their boat preparing to set sail and throw their fishing nets into the water when a civilian boat carrying two men in civilian clothes approached the nets.
“We told them to stay away from the nets so that fishing will not be affected ... But the boat got closer to us and one of the two men jumped, brandishing his gun and opened fire on my nephew, Maher, who was steering the boat, hitting him in the stomach,” Hamad said. He added that a fistfight erupted between his brother, Khaled and the gunman, who shot him in his leg.
During the melee, another Syrian civilian boat arrived carrying gunmen who began firing on the fishermen, hitting Maher again in his stomach, Hamad said. He added that Syrian forces later tied their boat with their boats and took them handcuffed to an intelligence center in Al-Mantar area in Syrian territory.
Hamad said that during the investigation with him in an underground detention center, he and his brother were beaten by members of Syrian intelligence who told them that in return for their release, they must say that they were transporting arms to Syria and that they threw the alleged arms load in the sea.
Hamad called on the government to protect its citizens living in areas near the border with Syria. “I call on the state to shoulder its responsibility for what happened to us. My nephew fell martyr as a result of what happened,” Hamad said. He added that their fishing boat was still confiscated by Syrian forces.
After the incident, angry residents of Arida blocked the highway linking Lebanon and Syria for hours with burning tires.
Meanwhile, Akkar Future MP Mouin Mereibi criticized the Lebanese Army for failing to protect Lebanese citizens on the Lebanese-Syrian border. He lamented that the Army has turned into “traffic police.”
“The Army has abandoned its role in protecting the Lebanese border,” Mereibi told LBCI TV, calling for the deployment of Lebanese authority on the border.
“The Army’s work is to protect the people. If it doesn’t want to protect us, there’s no problem. Let them give us the arms they have and we are ready to protect ourselves,” Mereibi said. He added that if the government cannot protect the border with Syria, it should invite U.N. troops to do so.
The Lebanese-Syrian border has become increasingly tense since the uprising in Syria began 10 months ago, with several incursions by the Syrian army, the killing of Lebanese citizens by Syrian security forces, and the firing at two fishing boats in August.
Separately, a Lebanese Red Cross vehicle transported Khaled Youssef, a Lebanese from the Wadi Khaled area, to a hospital in Qobeyat, after he was critically wounded by an explosion of a landmine planted by the Syrian army.

January 21, 2012

Naharnet: Mustaqbal MPs Meet Geagea: For Appeasing All Concerns on Electoral Law

A Mustaqbal Movement delegation on Thursday held talks with Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea in Maarab on the general situations in the country, “especially the issue of the electoral law,” MP Ahmed Fatfat said after the meeting.
The delegation also comprised MPs Hadi Hbeish and Ziad al-Qaderi. The meeting was attended by LF bloc MPs Georges Adwan and Antoine Zahra.
Fatfat said the meeting was “part of the contacts among the political forces in the March 14 camp and part of efforts exerted by the Mustaqbal Movement committee tasked with following up on the (new) electoral law.”
“We discovered that we have several common principles in this regard, as we all believe in the Taef Accord and the principle of equal power-sharing between Christians and Muslims, and everyone is aware of the legitimate concerns some Lebanese parties have, especially the Christians,” Fatfat added.
“We stressed the importance of coexistence and the need to find an electoral exit which would appease the concerns of all parties and guarantee proper political representation in Lebanon and justice in the distribution of electorates,” the MP said, noting that “the Mustaqbal Movement would only take a decision in coordination with its allies.”
Fatfat said the conferees discussed all the possibilities, noting that meetings would continue “until the March 14 forces reach a common vision in this regard.”
Asked whether the electoral law proposed by the Greek Orthodox Gathering had been shelved, Fatfat ruled out that, noting that “there’s a possibility to adopt it partially or in its entirety.”
But he warned that a parliament produced by such an electoral law would not preserve coexistence among the various communities.
Asked about the proportional representation law proposed by Interior Minister Marwan Charbel, Fatfat said: “After discussing this proposal extensively at the Phoenicia (Hotel) conference, we found out that it contains several gaps and discrimination in the distribution of the electorates, which means that it does not achieve justice.”

Naharnet: Bkirki Follow-Up Committee Discusses Electoral Law with Suleiman

The committee tasked by the Bkirki Maronite Summit to follow up on the issue of drafting a new electoral law stressed Friday during talks with President Michel Suleiman its “keenness on real national partnership among the country’s components.”
It also emphasized its “adherence to coexistence, pluralism and equal power-sharing,” according to a statement it issued after the meeting at the Baabda Palace.
The committee comprises MPs Boutros Harb, Georges Adwan, Alain Aoun and Sami Gemayel, and ex-ministers Youssef Saade and Ziad Baroud.
The envoys briefed the president on the committee’s “approach concerning the new electoral law, stressing the need that this law guarantee proper and effective representation for all the Lebanese components,” the statement said.
On December 16 Maronite leaders gathered in Bkirki stressed the importance of real partnership and equality between Muslims and Christians.
“This issue transcends demographic and political considerations and neglecting it will threaten Lebanon’s national unity,” they said.
“Disregarding it may also pave the way to reconsidering the country’s entire structure,” they added.
This equality should take place through proper representation for Christians and Muslims in parliamentary elections, which has been stressed through the National Reconciliation treaty and each sect’s right to elect its representative, they explained.
Furthermore, the Maronite leaders reached an agreement to form a follow up committee that would launch consultations with all factions in Lebanon based on the “Orthodox meeting, which the gatherers agreed provided a suitable formula that would strengthen Christian-Muslim equality.”
The Orthodox meeting called for each sect to elect its own candidate based on proportional representation during parliamentary elections.
The Maronite meeting was aimed at discussing an electoral law in an attempt to find common grounds between the bickering politicians, in the fourth meeting between them in nine months.
Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi headed the meeting between Phalange Party chief Amin Gemayel, Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun, the head of the Lebanese Forces Samir Geagea, and Marada Movement chief MP Suleiman Franjieh.
Maronite MPs and several bishops also attended the talks that were held at the seat of the church in Bkirki.
Three such meetings had been previously held in April, June and September.
Following its meeting with Suleiman, the follow up committee will hold talks with the rest of the political leaders and forces in the country.

Naharnet:Suleiman Demands Release of Lebanese Fishermen Abducted by Syria in the North

A 16-year-old Lebanese boy was shot and fatally wounded after gunmen opened fire on a fishing boat on the maritime border with Syria on Saturday, his father and a local official told Agence France Presse.
"My wife crossed the border into Syria and has seen his body in the morgue of Bassel Assad hospital" in the coastal city of Tartus, said Ahmad Hamad of his son Maher.
President Michel Suleiman condemned the kidnapping of three Lebanese fishermen after a Syrian fishing boat approached their vessel, opened fire at it, and then took it into Syrian territory.
Suleiman followed up with Prime Minister Najib Miqati and Security Forces leaders, demanding the Syrian authorities to release them immediately.
His stressed the need that the sovereignty of both countries be respected, urging both Lebanon and Syria to reinforce coordination in order to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future.
For his part, Miqati condemned the attack on Lebanese fishermen saying that the Lebanese-Syrian coordination committee should swiftly resolve the incident and bring back the kidnapped men.
According to the National News Agency the fishermen will be released on Saturday night as a result of the intensive contacts held between Lebanese and Syrian authorities.
Residents of the border town of al-Arida, where the fishermen come from, consequently blocked the international road leading to Syria by burning tyres in protest over the kidnapping.
MTV said that all border-crossings in northern Lebanon leading to Syria have been closed.
A local official, Ali Assad Khaled, mayor of the town of al-Arida, said brothers Fadi and Khaled Hamad and Maher were seized from their boat off the coast of northern Lebanon.
"Gunmen on another boat opened fire on the three Lebanese before seizing them and taking them off to Syria," he told AFP, adding that the incident was witnessed by other fishermen who insisted it took place in Lebanese waters.
Tensions have been high in recent months along the Lebanese-Syrian border over anti-regime protests taking place in Syria.
The Syrian army had repeatedly infiltrated Lebanese border territories in search of dissidents.
On December 2, 2011, dozens of terrified families fled their homes in Wadi Khaled after shooting from the Syrian side of the border wounded two men and a woman.
In recent months, thousands of people have fled into Lebanon from border districts of Syria as troops have resorted to mounting violence to crush anti-regime protests raging in the neighboring country since March.

The Daily Star: Harb: Still no agreement on election law

BEIRUT: Efforts are under way to agree on an election law that can ensure sound parliamentary representation equally divided between Christians and Muslims, March 14 Batroun MP Butros Harb said Friday. “So far, there has been no agreement on a new election law. The search is still going on for the best formula and the best election law that can achieve genuine representation based on an equal division [of parliamentary seats] between Christians and Muslims as provided for in the Taif Accord,” Harb told The Daily Star.
Harb spoke after he and members of an election committee met with President Michel Sleiman at Baabda Palace to discuss a draft election plan for the 2013 parliamentary polls.
In addition to Harb, the committee includes Metn MP Sami Gemayel from the Kataeb Party, Chouf MP George Adwan from the Lebanese Forces, Baabda MP Alain Aoun from the Free Patriotic Movement and former ministers Ziad Baroud and Youssef Saade. While Baroud is independent, Saade belongs to the Marada Movement of Zghorta MP Suleiman Franjieh.
The committee was formed last month following wide-ranging talks sponsored by Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai at his seat in Bkirki, during which the four top Maronite leaders – Kataeb Party chief Amin Gemayel, FPM leader Michel Aoun, LF leader Samir Geagea and Franjieh – endorsed an election proposal made by the Orthodox Gathering, while stressing the need to hold dialogue with other groups on the matter.
The Orthodox Gathering’s proposal called for each sect to elect its own MPs based on proportional representation during the 2013 elections. A statement issued after the Bkirki meeting described the Orthodox Gathering’s proposal as “a valid formula to achieve a just and effective representation.”
However, the Orthodox proposal has drawn fire from officials across the political divide, with some warning that it would deepen sectarianism in the country.
Of the meeting with Sleiman, Harb said: “We expressed our viewpoint, which calls for finding the best election law that can eliminate Christian concerns and ensure genuine representation.” He added that the Maronite leaders and Christian MPs who attended the Bkirki meeting did not adopt the Orthodox Gathering’s election proposal which, he said, aims to allay Christian concerns about sound representation in Parliament.
A political source said the president supported “a modern election law that can represent all segments of the Lebanese population.”
“The president sees that an election law based on proportional representation is one of the options,” the source told The Daily Star.
Minyeh MP Ahmad Fatfat, a Future Movement official, said the March 14 parties would eventually adopt a united stance on an election law. Fatfat said he had discussed all election proposals during his meeting with Geagea the day before. “There won’t be any differences between us. There will be only a joint stance by the LF, the Future Movement and the Kataeb Party on an election law,” he told the Central News Agency.
Interior Minister Marwan Charbel has rejected the Orthodox Gathering’s proposal, saying it isolates Christians from Muslims.
The row over an election law comes as the government is still debating a new electoral law based on proportional representation.

January 20, 2012

Naharnet: Protests at Roumieh Prison over Foiled Bid to Smuggle Cellphones

Protests erupted on Thursday at Roumieh prison's ward B after security forces arrested a lady who was trying to smuggle mobile phones into the prison.
“Prisoners have reportedly took a number of guards hostage seeking to swap them for the held lady,” Voice of Lebanon radio station (93.3) reported.
At once, Colonel Amer Zaylaa, chief of the Internal Security Forces’ prisons brigade, deployed his troops outside and inside the building in a bid to contain the protests, VDL added.
Poor conditions in prisons and a slow judicial process have sparked several riots in Lebanese jails. Some prisoners can be incarcerated for years before their cases come to court.
Several failed and successful prison breaks have taken place in Roumieh throughout the past few months.
Roumieh was originally built to house 1,500 inmates but is today crammed with nearly 4,000 men -- 65 percent of the country's prison population.

January 9, 2012

L'orient le jour - TSL : Samy Gemayel réclame la remise à la justice des quatre inculpés du Hezb, December 9th 2011

Le député Samy Gemayel, coordinateur du comité central Kataëb, a réclamé hier la remise à la justice des quatre individus du Hezbollah inculpés dans l’affaire de l’attentat contre Rafic Hariri et mis en garde contre toute tentative de manipulation du protocole conclu entre le Liban et les Nations unies au sujet du Tribunal spécial pour le Liban.
S’exprimant lors d’une conférence au siège du régional Kataëb de Rmeil, M. Gemayel s’est félicité de la décision libanaise d’avaliser le financement du TSL, estimant que ce dossier est « l’un des principaux engagements nécessaires à la bonne marche du tribunal et à l’obtention de la justice ».
« Tous ceux qui critiquent ce financement devraient se hâter de remettre les quatre inculpés (au TSL) afin de lancer le procès sans retard et pour que le processus ne dure pas des années, suscitant à nouveau le problème du financement dans les prochaines années », a-t-il ajouté, avant de prévenir les responsables « contre toute manipulation du protocole conclu entre l’État libanais et les Nations unies », qui est censé être reconduit en février prochain.
« Cette question ne sera pas moins importante que celle du financement du TSL. Il sera fait preuve de la même fermeté à ce sujet qu’à l’égard du rejet du financement », a-t-il dit.
M. Gemayel s’était auparavant rendu chez le patriarche arménien-catholique, Mgr Nersès Bedros XIX, et s’est entretenu avec lui des derniers développements sur les scènes locale et internationale.
De son côté, le député Nadim Gemayel a estimé, dans une déclaration à la Voix du Liban, que le gouvernement en place « ne vivra pas longtemps car les échéances qui l’attendent sont plus difficiles que le financement du TSL ».
Toutefois, M. Gemayel a souligné que les pôles du gouvernement « feront l’impossible pour le maintenir à flot car si le cabinet tombe, ils ne pourront pas former un autre du même acabit ». « Voilà pourquoi, entre le financement et la chute du gouvernement, on a préféré le financement, et cela afin de sauver une équipe ministérielle dont l’objectif fondamental est de ne pas être renversée », a-t-il dit.
« Nous savions bien que les rodomontades du général Michel Aoun (au sujet du financement du TSL) n’allaient mener nulle part », a-t-il lancé.

January 5, 2012

l'orient le jour: Brèves, January 5 ,2012

La visite de Ban au Liban portera sur la Finul et le TSL

De source diplomatique, on indique que la visite que le secrétaire général de l’ONU Ban Ki-moon effectuera au Liban du 13 au 15 janvier portera sur deux questions essentielles : le protocole du Tribunal spécial pour le Liban et la situation des forces de la Finul sur le terrain, notamment après l’attentat de Tyr. Selon cette source, citée par l’agence al-Markaziya, la diminution du nombre des forces qui œuvrent au sein de la Finul ne relève pas des prérogatives du secrétaire général, puisque cette décision appartient en définitive aux pays qui participent à la force internationale. Concernant le protocole du TSL, le secrétaire général de l’ONU décidera, après ses audiences avec les différents responsables libanais et à son retour à New York, l’approbation du protocole. En cas de refus, il demandera au Conseil de sécurité de renouveler le mandat du TSL sous l’autorité du chapitre VII de la Charte de l’ONU.

السفير: بان إلى بيروت لبحث التجديد للمحكمة وأمـن «اليونيفيـل»مارلين خليفة

مارلين خليفة

تأتي زيارة الأمين العام للأمم المتحدة بان كي مون الى بيروت ابتداء من 13 الجاري في حقبة من التحولات الجذرية في المنطقة العربية ليس لبنان بمنأى عنها، وهي تكتسب أبعاداً سياسية، خصوصاً في توقيتها الحالي، بعد أن أقر لبنان تمويل المحكمة الدولية الخاصة بلبنان عن سنة 2011، وبداية فك «العزلة الوقائية» التي كانت تطوّق حكومة الرئيس نجيب ميقاتي وعلى مشارف مرحلة من الانتظار لما سيؤول إليه الوضع السوري
تتسم المشاورات الرسمية لبان بالطابع البروتوكولي على الرغم من تطرقها إلى مواضيع أساسية، إلا أن الحلّ والربط فيها يعود في الواقع الى الجهة الزائرة أي الأمم المتحدة، خصوصا في موضوع التجديد للمحكمة الدولية الذي يبدو أنه سيكون موضوعاً رئيسياً للبحث الى جانب أمن «اليونيفيل». 
وعلمت «السفير» من مصادر متابعة للزيارة أن بان سيثير مع من سيلتقيهم من المسؤولين اللبنانيين، أي الرؤساء الثلاثة ميشال سليمان ونبيه بري ونجيب ميقاتي، موضوع التجديد للمحكمة الدولية الخاصّة بلبنان في آذار المقبل انطلاقاً من التفويض المعطى له بالقيام بمشاورات «غير ملزمة» في هذا الشأن وذلك عند إنشاء المحكمة الدولية. هذه المشاورات تتم مع اعضاء مجلس الأمن الدولي أولاً ومع المسؤولين في بيروت ثانياً، وبالتالي أراد بان أن يغتنم فرصة زيارته الى لبنان للمشاركة في أعمال «المؤتمر الدولي حول الإصلاح والديموقراطية في العالم العربي» والذي تنظمه اللجنة الإقتصادية والإجتماعية لغرب آسيا (إسكوا) لاستمزاج آراء المسؤولين اللبنانيين في هذا الخصوص
وسيتطرق بان في زيارته الى موضوع أثار نقاشاً في الآونة الأخيرة ويتعلق بأمن أبنية الأمم المتحدة، فضلاً عن المسائل التي تثيرها المنظمة الدولية دوماً ومنها تنفيذ القرارات الدولية وأبرزها القراران 1701 و1559
وسيكون على طاولة النقاش موضوع قوات الطوارئ الدولية العاملة في جنوب لبنان، حيث سيزور الأمين العام للأمم المتحدة مقرها العام في الناقورة ويلتقي قائدها الجنرال البرتو آسارتا. كما سيثير، بحسب مصادر عليمة، مع المسؤولين اللبنانيين مسألة أمن «اليونيفيل»، خصوصاً بعد الهجمات المتتالية التي تعرّضت لها في العام الماضي، علماً بأن الزيارة ليست مرتبطة بهذا الأمر مباشرة لأنها كانت معدة في وقت سابق
ومن المواضيع التي قد يتطرّق إليها بان مسألة اللاجئين السوريين الى شمال لبنان وتعيين منسق خاص له في بيروت، علماً بأن تعيين الأخير يبقى مثار بحث مع وجود لائحة مرشحين طويلة من الدول، وسيكون اختياره مراعياً للتوازن الجغرافي، خصوصاً أنه على أبواب تعيين 15 أميناً عاماً مساعداً له سيكونون في مراكزهم بالتدرج منذ بداية السنة وحتى منتصفها
وفي أجندة الأمين العام الذي يزور لبنان للمرة الثالثة اجتماعات تقليدية مع موظفي الأمم المتحدة العاملين في لبنان الذين سيلتقونه في القاعة الكبرى في «الإسكوا» وعددهم زهاء 700 موظف، ويتطرق النقاش كما درجت العادة الى عملهم والتحديات والإنجازات التي تنتظرهم في بيروت. كما سيلتقي أيضاً رؤساء وكالات الأمم المتحدة العاملة في لبنان ويبلغ عددها 23 وكالة
في هذا الوقت ما تزال الدوائر المعنية في الأمم المتحدة تتكتم عن أية تفاصيل تتعلق ببرنامج الزيارة الرسمي، علماً أنها ستبدأ في 13 الجاري وتنتهي في 15 منه، وعلمت «السفير» أن بان كي مون سيزور أيضاً الأردن
بالعودة الى روزنامة زيارات الأمناء العامين للأمم المتحدة الى لبنان تاريخياً فقد جاءت على الشكل التالي: داغ هامرشولد وهو سويدي الجنسية زار بيروت لمرتين عامي 1956 و1958، كورت فالدهايم النمساوي عام 1982، خافيير بيريز دوكويار البيروفي عام 1984، كوفي أنان الغاني زار لبنان في عام 1989 حيث افتتح المبنى الجديد للإسكوا في وسط بيروت بعد انتقالها من الأردن، وفي عام 2002 حين حضر القمة العربية، وعام 2006 في جولة وداعية على المنطقة، أما بان كي مون الكوري الجنوبي فيسجّل هذه المرة زيارته الرابعة الى بيروت بعد زيارتين عام 2007 وثالثة عام 2009