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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April 21, 2016

L'orient - Libération de la mère et des journalistes australiens complices, April 21, 2016

Sally Faulkner, la femme australienne qui avait été arrêtée pour avoir tenté, le 6 avril, d'enlever ses deux enfants mineurs qu'elle a eus avec son ex-mari libanais, Ali el-Amine, a été libérée sous caution hier, en même temps que quatre journalistes de la télévision australienne qui l'avaient accompagnée en filmant l'opération du rapt, commis dans la banlieue sud.

L'Agence nationale d'information (Ani) a rapporté sur ce sujet que le juge d'instruction du Mont-Liban, Rami Abdallah, poursuivra son enquête sur l'enlèvement commis lorsque les deux jeunes mineurs attendaient l'autocar scolaire avec leur grand-mère paternelle. L'Ani a indiqué en outre que l'audience d'hier, consacrée à la réconciliation entre le père et la mère, s'est clôturée par le retrait de la plainte déposée par M. Amine et sa mère contre son ex-épouse et les quatre journalistes accusés de participation au rapt.

L'AFP a rapporté pour sa part que les cinq personnes libérées pourront sortir incessamment du territoire libanais, indiquant que, pour autant, les charges criminelles contre elles n'ont pas été supprimées et que le jugement « sera émis par contumace ».

Rappelons que les enfants avaient été retrouvés quelques jours après l'enlèvement dans la maison maternelle à Beyrouth et avaient été remis à leur père.

The Daily Star - Defense begins cross-examination of Alfa witness at STL, April 21, 2016

Susannah Walden

Defense lawyers at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon began the cross-examination of an anonymous representative from the Alfa mobile network Wednesday. Witness PRH 707 has been recalled to testify in the case against five members of Hezbollah being tried in absentia for the 2005 assassination of former premier Rafik Hariri. The witness had been asked to reappear before the court to answer questions on new information he was requested to gather based on his original February 2016 testimony. The evidence is at the heart of the prosecution’s case as the defendants were identified using analysis of call data and billing records.

The examination Wednesday aimed to poke holes in the reliability of the data provided by Alfa in response to the prosecution RFAs (requests for assistance). Crucially for the defense, there are no contemporary cover maps from 2004 and 2005, the information provided being compiled from data starting from Jan. 29, 2007. This line of questioning took a deep look at aspects of the orientation and types of antenna used and the regularity and manner in which they are adjusted or replaced. Coverage maps and their accuracy are vital, as prosecutors have claimed they were able to track the locations of defendants based on the towers their phones were connected to.

“We will try to give an idea from the data we have, but we have always said any maps we can provide will be an approximation. They will not 100 percent reflect the reality,” he said. “We don’t have many changes that happen by accident over time and if that happens it’s only a few degrees.

“Changes are not made randomly. The towers are 30-40 meters high, not just any person can climb the tower and change the antenna. We need reasons to do that operation and we need to do a study afterward to make sure changes were successful.”

The defense then turned to the method used to provide the data to establish what the people involved in the original RFA understood was required of them and if he could speak to events that occurred before he joined the company in 2012. “I don’t mean this flippantly, but did your colleagues approaching this RFA, did they understand it was for the prosecution for the STL for this particular case? In which case they would have known it was for the month of February, 2005?”

As he has done in the past, he reiterated that “today I am not here representing myself, I am here representing the company.” He will appear before the court again Thursday.

April 20, 2016

The Daily Star - Domestic worker throws herself off balcony north of Beirut, April 20, 2016

An Ethiopian maid was critically wounded Wednesday after she threw herself off a balcony in the city of Jbeil, north of Beirut.

The state-run National News Agency said that the incident took place at the home of her employers in Jebil's Kasuba neighborhood.

Internal Security Forces have opened an investigation into the incident.

April 15, 2016

The Daily Star - STL defends slow pace of proceedings, April 15, 2016

Ned Whalley

Special Tribunal for Lebanon President Judge Ivana Hrdlickov? defended the trial’s slow pace of proceedings Thursday, arguing that the complex nature of the case and a commitment to fairness and transparency demanded it.

“Justice needs time, and international criminal justice needs time, because of the complexity of the crimes. That’s why tribunals, not only the Lebanese [one] but others are established,” Hrdlickov? told The Daily Star in an interview at Sin al-Fil’s Metropolitan Hilton.

More than a decade has passed since the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. The tribunal superseded the United Nations International Independent Investigation Commission in March 2009, and the prosecution opened its case at The Hague in Jan 2014.

Hrdlickov?, elected as STL President in February 2015, said the chamber had received some 200 witnesses and issued approximately 900 decisions to date, and cited the complex nature of the evidence and the hybridized nature of the proceedings as hurdles to more rapid progress. The prosecution is not expected to conclude its case before end of the year.

“One of the priorities I have is to expedite the pace of the trial. At the same time, if you have to choose if you would like to have a very fast trial, not open to the public, not transparent, behind closed doors, with no rights for the defense, or, on the other hand, a trial that’s open to the public, very transparent, with all the rights of defense to challenge evidence and vice versa ... that’s what we have to choose, and I am deeply attached to the fairness of the proceedings.”

Hrdlickov? sought to contextualize the pace of the trial in the evolving field of international criminal law, citing recent decisions by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, which is prosecuting crimes now more than 20 years old.

“The question becomes do we want to see justice even if it is slow, or no justice? It’s a lot of work to make the procedures more efficient and more expeditious, but the fairness, I would say the fairness is absolutely crucial.”

But its slow pace is just one of the criticisms that have been leveled at the court. Five members of Hezbollah are being tried in absentia for Hariri’s assassination, and there has been no reported progress in apprehending them. Even if they are caught, they are entitled to a retrial. Defendant Mustafa Badreddine, a senior Hezbollah operative accused of masterminding the attack, was seen at the funeral of his nephew in Lebanon in January 2015.

“Of course it’s not an ideal situation – the best is always to have the accused at the court,” Hrdlickov? said. “One of the purposes of international criminal justice is to bring justice to victims. And for victims it is essential – the right to be heard, to see that the trial can continue, that justice is continued, even if the accused are not present.”

Hrdlickov? said retrial was a basic right of defendants at in absentia proceedings, in order to guarantee fairness and an “equality of arms” and noted that the STL, like other international criminal courts, lacks its own judicial police.

The tribunal relies on the Lebanese authorities for the apprehension of the suspects, though it has also issued international arrest warrants and notified Interpol.

The tribunal president was adamant that the court’s recent prosecution of two high-profile Lebanese journalists was not an attempt to stifle criticism.

Karma al-Khayat of Al-Jadeed television, and Ibrahim al-Amin, editor-in-chief of Al-Akhbar, were charged in separate cases with contempt of court for divulging identifying information about alleged confidential witnesses. Khayat had her conviction overturned on appeal in March. Closing arguments in Amin’s case are scheduled to be heard May 5.

“I think the role of the media is crucial,” said Hrdlickov?, citing the difficult and technical nature of much of the prosecution’s evidence. “The more people understand the more they can have their own opinion.”

She argued that the rules of the tribunal, as agreed at its institution, were designed to provide the court with the means to defend the integrity of its proceedings and the safety of its participants.

“For the tribunal it is fundamental to have inherent power to start an investigation if something happens at the main trial, [if] the court is jeopardized. So it’s not going after media at all, because [anybody] who committed contempt can be [held] responsible for that. It’s nothing against media and journalists.”

Hrdlickov? said she was unaware of isolated reports that the prosecution’s indictment could be expanded to include Hezbollah Secretary-General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah or the organization as a whole. She said the court refused to comment on speculation about the investigation, which has been rife since the outset.

She voiced optimism about the ultimate conclusion of the case. “I think it’s great that we’re going on, the trial’s continuing, and I believe that at the end there will be an independent, impartial judicial decision.”

April 8, 2016

The Daily Star - Defense opens in controversialAl-Akhbar case at STL, April 08, 2016

Ned Whalley, Susannah Walden

Attorneys at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon began their defense of Al-Akhbar Editor-in-Chief Ibrahim al-Amin Thursday, fighting charges that he used the paper to intimidate witnesses and undermine public confidence in the court. Amin and the paper’s parent company have been charged with contempt of court for the January 2013 publication of photographs and personal details of confidential witnesses scheduled to appear before the tribunal, which is prosecuting five men linked to Hezbollah for the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Prosecutors contend Amin published the witness list in order to frighten witnesses and dissuade others from coming forward.

Defense attorney Antonios Abou Kasm sought to cast doubt on this assertion by calling witnesses whose identities were divulged.

“I still value the court, I respect justice, and I respect the judges. What was published was my picture and before that my picture had already been published without my permission. It happens. It’s just incidental now,” Najib al-Harrat told the court.

Harrat testified in a statement that publication of the article did not affect him personally or professionally. He remained in the same residence with the same job and did not pursue legal action against Al-Akhbar.

Amin has defended publication of the list, and alleges the court is part of a Western conspiracy to discredit Hezbollah. In a pre-trial hearing he appeared via video link to announce that he did not recognize its jurisdiction and would exercise his right to remain silent before removing his headset and storming off camera. Abou Kasm, a member of the Beirut Bar Association and a professor at the Lebanese University and Universite St. Joseph, has been appointed by the court to defend him.

Abou Kasm’s second witness was Mahmoud Assi, manager of the Sidon branch of the Capital Insurance and Reinsurance Company. Assi first appeared before the tribunal in October as a witness for the prosecution. According to prosecutors, a BMW registered and driven by defendant Salim Jamil Ayyash was involved in a single vehicle collision outside Sidon in 2004.

Assi told the court that as a collision expert, his name appeared atop a list of numbers to call in case of an accident. He testified that he received a call that night, but referred the client to a colleague.

Prosecutors have linked that call to a number used by Ayyash, part of a much larger effort to attribute cellular phones to the defendants. They contend that the bombing was planned and coordinated on dedicated groups of phones that had been acquired for the purpose.

Assi Thursday said that he was largely unbothered by the publication of his personal details, though he did meet with Amin and asked that he be allowed to issue a clarification.

“I was not subject to any kind of threat or harassment following the publication of said article,” Assi said.

“I asked that the clarification would contain information saying that I have nothing to do with the case and that I have no relation with the people accused.”

Under cross examination, Assi was pressed on what drove him to issue the clarification, in which he stated that his public association with the trial generated “negative comments among malignant people in my surroundings.”

Assi brushed off the questions with a series of generalizations, offering only that he wanted to clarify the matter for the public and head off any false rumors. Even when pushed by Judge Nicola Lettieri, he refused to answer the question directly.

Assi emphasized that his involvement in the case was limited to his professional capacity as a collision expert for an accident that took place months before the assassination occurred which he did not even work on. He referred to himself as a witness “who had not seen anything.”

April 7, 2016

L'orient le jour - À l’occasion du 13 avril, le dossier des disparus ressurgit de l’oubli, April 07, 2016

La commission parlementaire des Droits de l'homme, réunie hier sous la présidence du député Michel Moussa, a étudié le dossier des disparitions forcées de la guerre, à l'heure où le pays se prépare à commémorer le 41e anniversaire du début de la guerre du Liban, et la Journée mondiale des disparitions forcées, le 13 avril.

La commission a ainsi insisté sur la nécessité d'adopter une législation unique, qui regrouperait en un seul texte deux lois sur les disparitions forcées. Elle s'est aussi penchée sur un protocole d'accord entre les autorités libanaises et le CICR, visant à prélever et conserver des échantillons d'ADN des familles de disparus, afin d'effectuer les comparaisons nécessaires avec les personnes disparues, en cas de doute. Cet accord est prêt. Pour qu'il soit appliqué, il doit toutefois être adopté par le Conseil des ministres. La commission a enfin abordé l'accord signé entre le Liban et les Nations unies sur la question des disparitions forcées. Cet accord concerne la recherche de la vérité et le travail d'enquête sur les crimes. « Nous travaillerons sur une proposition de loi que nous soumettrons au Parlement, dans l'espoir que ce dernier reprenne ses activités », a souligné Michel Moussa.

Étaient notamment présents à la réunion, les députés Marwan Farès et Ghassan Moukheiber, le chef de bureau des laboratoires médico-légaux, le commandant Hani Kallassi, la juge Nazek Khatib, représentant le ministère de la Justice, le juge Sabbouh Sleiman, représentant l'avocat général près la cour d'appel, l'adjoint du représentant régional du Haut-Commissaire des Nations unies aux droits de l'homme, Nidal Jurdi, le représentant du Centre Khiam de réhabilitation des victimes de la torture, Mohammad Safa, le président de l'association Solide, Ghazi Aad, la représentante du Comité des parents des personnes enlevées ou disparues au Liban, Wadad Halawani, et la représentante du CICR, Rabab Khatib.

The Daily Star - NGO to be honored for education work, April 07, 2016

Ned Whalley

The United Lebanon Youth Project will be honored later this month at the 18th annual Khalil Gibran “Spirit of Humanity” Awards Gala in Washington D.C. for its groundbreaking work providing educational services and support to marginalized and disadvantaged young people. The Arab American Institute will recognize the organization with its Award for Institutional Excellence for ULYP’s services to underserved communities in Lebanon and its efforts to bring together and empower disparate groups through education programs.

Founder Melek al-Nimer had been working in refugee camps for 25 years when she founded the organization in 2010.

“I established ULYP because [to that point] whatever you did in the camps stayed in the camps – there was this invisible wall around the camps,” Nimer told The Daily Star in an interview at ULYP Hamra offices.

“We decided that what we need to do is get the people that we work with, get the beneficiaries out of the camps to participate in our programs, and bring them together with beneficiaries from other marginalized communities,” she added.

Nimer was one of 12 women presented with the “2015 Women Who Make a Difference Award” by the International Women’s Forum. In addition to her work with ULYP she is the founder and president of the Lebanese chapter of the IWF.

ULYP now operates a wide range of programs serving the Lebanese, Palestinians, Syrians, and Iraqis, both in refugee camps and at its 24,000 square meter campus in Debbieh, which includes facilities for music, art, sports, and IT. The organization runs 10-12 educational programs a year on everything from environmentalism to gender based violence, reaching some 3,000 people.

“The concept is that every child, woman, and youth in Lebanon and in the world has the right to access education – quality education – so that they can have a better life and succeed in their life. So what we would like to do is make sure everyone has access to quality programs,” said Director Nicole Eid Abu Haidar.

She emphasized that the ULYP’s initiatives were designed to bridge the deep divisions in Lebanese society.

“This whole thing that we are different – it has to be changed. We are different? That’s good,” said Abu Haidar. “Diversity is not a cause to discriminate it is a cause to celebrate. We do our programs to help all underprivileged people integrate better in the community through education. We use education for social development.”

Each year the organization’s Bridge Program targets 150 top high school students from Lebanese public schools and UNRWA secondary institutions to receive college and SAT preparatory courses and assistance on their applications.

They are then matched with donors for scholarships and financial aid secured by ULYP.

The program permits these students to attend top Lebanese universities whose costs would otherwise have been prohibitively expensive, including the American University in Beirut, the Lebanese American University, and The Beirut Arab University.

The program currently has 300 students enrolled at these universities, and a further 75 overseas.

“Our students used to say AUB was a dream, now it’s an option,” said Abu Haidar.

ULYP continues its support after graduation, helping students pursue further education and employment in Lebanon and abroad.

Palestinians are prohibited from working in 30 industries in Lebanon, and face problems obtaining visas to work or study abroad. ULYP provides assistance on both fronts.

“My long term plan is to empty the camps,” Nimer said. She contends that education is the only way to alleviate the generational poverty that afflicts Lebanon’s Palestinian refugee camps and challenge negative stereotypes about the community abroad.

“Sometimes we are asked if this is not a brain drain ... but our students have absolutely nothing to come back to. So instead of having disenchanted doctors sitting in Burj al-Barajneh where eventually someone will put a gun in their hands, I would much rather have successful doctors and engineers that represent the community outside, which will change the perception of the western world.”

Nimer believes that providing Palestinians with access to Lebanon’s premier schools, and their subsequent migration into top professions, can help seed the Palestinian community with the capital to promote a greater transformation.

“You pull one kid out, you send him to AUB, he graduates, gets a decent job, has private health insurance – he’s not going to go and benefit from the health services that UNRWA provides, he’s not going to queue outside their offices to receive dry milk and rice and lentils, and eventually he’s going to pull his family out, he’s going to send his brother to university. I think it’s going to take a long time but this is the idea,” she said.

The organization plans to continue to expand and increase its reach with more mobile services.

“I would like to put ULYP on wheels, so that we are not only doing our programs on our camps or in Beirut but we are going out, empowering other centers around the country to do what we do,” Abu Haidar later added.

The group hopes to position itself as a regional model for using education for social development and integration, and hopes to one day establish an endowment to help fund its services.

Many of these services prove transformative to their beneficiaries. Nimer and Abu Haidar contend that at present, for many in Lebanon, education is the only valid proactive way out.

The Daily Star - Lebanon detains Australian TV crew after abduction of 2 children, April 07, 2016

Internal Security Forces said Thursday that four Australian nationals have been detained in Lebanon after they were suspected of abducting two young children from their father.

“The four Australians that have been detained in one of the police stations are under investigation for their alleged links to an operation to kidnap two children from the Amin family,” ISF chief Maj. Gen Ibrahim Basbous told Voice of Lebanon radio (93.3).

The arrest of four Australian nationals, who work for a television crew, comes one day after two children were abducted early in the morning near Beirut. A security source told The Daily Star Wednesday that their abduction may have been linked to a family dispute and that their Australian mother was suspected of being involved in the incident.

The Australia Network News said that they were filming a mission concerned with the recovery of the two children, who were born to a Brisbane woman, but were taken to Lebanon by her ex-husband.

"We won't be giving out any more details, other than to say we are working with authorities to get them released and back home ASAP," Nine Network said.

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said Canberra was “urgently seeking to confirm the crew's whereabouts and welfare, and have offered all appropriate consular assistance."

Australian local media named those being held as reporter Tara Brown, producer Steven Rice and one or two camera operators.

Sally Faulkner, the Brisbane mother of the children reportedly has said their Lebanese father took them for a holiday and then allegedly refused to return them to Australia, Fairfax Media reported.

The source added that the children’s father, Ali al-Amin, had been granted custody after divorcing his wife. He moved from Australia to Lebanon, bringing the children with him upon her knowledge.

The source said that three gunmen in a silver Hyundai snatched the children, aged 4 and 6, from a bus stop in the Beirut suburb of Hadath where they were waiting with their grandmother around 7:30 a.m.

Ibtissam Berri, the children’s grandmother, explained to MTV TV station how the incident occurred.

She said that she had been holding her grandchild Noah's hand, while her maid was with his sister Lahela waiting for the school bus. Assailants then attacked them and snatched the children. The incident was recorded on surveillance cameras placed in the neighborhood.

As-Safir - STL prosecution ‘expert’ defends credentials, April 07, 2016

المحكمة الخاصة: تقرير أدلة الاتصالات غير مُنجَز

حكمت عبيد 

تحلّى عضو غرفة الدرجة الأولى لدى المحكمة الخاصة بلبنان القاضي نيكولا لتييري بجرأة التصريح أن تقرير الشاهد غاري بلات «أشعره بالضياع»، لا سيما لجهة توصيف مستخدمي هواتف الشبكات المستهدفة. ففي حين اعتبر الشاهد بلات في تقريره، أن مستخدمي الخطوط الفعليين ليسوا هم مَن «تعقبناهم والتقينا بهم لاحقاً لنكتشف أنهم لا يعرفون عن الخطوط شيئاً، بل إن الشركات المعنيّة قد ملأت وثائق البيع بأسماء مزوّرة كي تستفيد من عمولة تستوفيها لقاء ذلك».

واستحوذ عرض التقرير الأولي لأدلة الاتصالات، على نقاش قانوني بين عدد من فرق الدفاع ممن اعتبر أنه لا يمكن عرض تقرير غير مُنْجَز ولم تتسلمه فرق الدفاع. كما عبّر المحامي طوماس هانس، وهو من الفريق المكلف حماية مصالح المتهم سليم عياش، وبين جهة الادعاء التي اعتبرت «أن عرض التقرير بصورة عامة لا يتسبّب بأضرار للدفاع»، ليحسم رئيس الغرفة القاضي دايفيد راي النقاش بالسماح بعرض عام للتقرير، خاصة أن التغييرات الممكنة والتي قد تطرأ على مضمون التقرير لا تتجاوز الواحد بالمئة، بحسب ما افادت ممثلة الادعاء المحامية رايمر خلال الجلسة.

وكانت جلسة الأمس بدأت بتلاوة قرار شفهي صادر عن الغرفة الأولى صنّفت بموجبه الشاهد بلات «وفقاً للتعريف «القانوني» بـ«الخبير»، وقال القاضي راي إن وجود الشاهد لدى مكتب المدعي العام لا يسقط صفته كخبير، وإنه «يمكن للشاهد أن يبدي رأياً بموضوعين أساسين هما: مراقبة الشبكات الجرمية، وعمل الشبكات السرية».

توقف المحامي هانس عند القرار، مذكراً بأن فريقه طلب في كتاب خطي تأجيل الاستماع للشاهد حتى الانتهاء من إعداد التقرير والكشف عنه، وأضاف: «أن التقرير أعدّ في العام 2002، ويتضمن نحو 199 فقرة في الحواشي، والعديد من الاقتباسات لم تذكر المصدر، ونحو 13 اقتباساً من تقارير لخبراء آخرين، وبيّنات تضمّنت 91 مستنداً دون الإشارة الى الأرقام المرجعية ذات الصلة».

من جهتها أقرت ممثلة الادعاء بأن التقرير يتم تعديله وفقاً لما يقدّمه شاهدا شركتي «ألفا» و «ام تي سي»، لكن «التعديلات المتوقعة طفيفة وشكلية». وبعد نقاش طلب راي من الادعاء الكشف عن التقرير النهائي قبل إدلاء الشاهد بإفادته على ان يتضمن التقرير الفقرات التي سيستند اليها الادعاء.

وسمح القاضي راي، بالمقابل، بعرض التقرير الأولي عن تقرير الاتصالات ضمن اختصاص الشاهد المحدد بقرار الغرفة. وتحدّث بلات عن أربع شبكات، وهي: الصفراء وتضمّ 13 خطاً هاتفياً، الخضراء وتضم 3 خطوط، الزرقاء فالحمراء 8 خطوط. ويتضمّن التقرير تحليلاً لحركة هذه الهواتف خلال الفترة الممتدة من 18 تشرين الثاني ولغاية 7 كانون الثاني من العام 2005.

وأوضح بلات أن «هناك فرقاً بين المعلومات التي تسلمناها من شركتي الخلوي. فقد حصلنا من ام تي سي على مضمون الرسائل النصية ولم نتسلم معلومات حيال كيفية تعبئة الخطوط، في حين أننا لم نتسلم من الفا مضمون الرسائل النصيّة».

وحدد بلات اربع ملاحظات حيال الشبكات وتتمثل في الآتي: «لا تفاصيل عن المشتركين، وأن الوثائق المستخدمة في شراء الخطوط مزوّرة، ولم نتمكن من تعقب المشتركين، وعند تمكننا من ذلك تبين لنا أن من سُجلت الخطوط بأسمائهم ليسوا هم مَن استخدمها».

وأشار الشاهد إلى أن نحو 85 بالمئة من تشغيل الهواتف كان في منطقة بيروت الكبرى و9 بالمئة في منطقة الجنوب اللبناني «خلال عطلة نهاية الأسبوع».

وشككت فرق الدفاع بأهلية الشاهد للإدلاء برأيه بشأن الحديث عن طبيعة المستندات المزوّرة والمتعلقة بعملية شراء الخطوط.

Al-Joumhouria - Geagea Military Tribunal privileges threat to security, April 07, 2016

معراب تتبنّى «العدالة»... جعجع: للتمييز بين المحكمة والجيش

تبدو معراب بجهوزية تامّة في شهر نيسان، إذ تزدحم أجندتها بسلسلة من اللقاءات والمؤتمرات والمحطات، أبرزها «أزمة العدالة» التي نكبَت أحكامُها لبنانيّي الوطن، وقد عايشَت «القوات اللبنانية» تحديداً فصولَها الصعبة منذ بداية التسعينات، فيما لا يزال اللبنانيون حتى اليوم يعانون من بعض أحكام القضاء العسكري.

حاولت «القوات» رفعَ الصوت من خلال اقتراح قانون سعى إلى إلغاء المحاكم العسكرية ، قدّمته عام 2013 إلى مجلس النواب فلم يبصر النور، فعلّت الصوتَ مجدداً أمس من معراب خلال مؤتمر تحت عنوان «إشكالية القضاء العسكري وحقوق الإنسان»، شاركَ فيه نخبة من الاختصاصيين في لبنان ومن الخارج، ونخبة من السلك القضائي والسياسي والأمني والإعلامي.

بدأ المؤتمر بكلمة لرئيس حزب «القوات» سمير جعجع، دعا فيها إلى «وجوب التمييز بين المحكمة العسكرية والجيش اللبناني، إذ لا علاقة للمحكمة العسكرية بالجيش، بل هي كالفطريات تنمو على طرَف الزهرة».

ولفتَ إلى أنّ «هناك فرقاءَ سياسيّين يلجأون إلى المحكمة العسكرية، لأنّهم لا يستطيعون الإفادة من القضاء بالطريقة الشرعية»، موضحاً «أنّنا من أكثر الفرَقاء الذين تعرّفوا إلى المحكمة العسكرية، فهناك آلاف الاعتقالات ومئات القرارات الجائرة التي لم ننتهِ منها حتى اليوم»، متطرّقاً إلى قضية سماحة، قائلاً: «تمَّ ضبط ميشال سماحة بالدليل القاطع، إذ تأكّدَ بالصوت والصورة قبل القبض عليه وبعده أنّه كان على علاقة مع ميلاد كفوري وأعطاه قرابة الـ 100 كلغ من المتفجّرات»، سائلاً: «هل ضبطُ شخص مع مثلِ هذه الكمّية من العبوات للقيام بأعمال تخريبية في لبنان بالجرم المشهود يَصدر الحكم بحقّه بـ 4 سنوات ونصف فقط؟

ألَا يشكّل هذا تهديداً للسلامة العامة والسلم الأهلي؟». وأضاف: «انطلاقاً من هنا تشكّل المحكمة العسكرية بشكلها الحالي خطراً على السلامة العامة». وأعلن أنّه «بعد المؤتمر سيلتقي النائب إيلي كيروز الكتلَ النيابية كافّة لتأمين أكثرية لاقتراح قانون تعديل صلاحيات المحكمة العسكرية».

وفي السياق، يلخّص النائب روبير غانم عبر «الجمهورية»، والذي شاركَ في مؤتمر معراب، موقفَه من إشكالية القضاء العسكري، والذي خالفَ إلغاء المحاكم المتخصّصة، ويشدّد على أنه «مع الحفاظ على المنظومة القضائية القائمة حالياً، لكن مع تحسينها وضمانات الدفاع وحقوق الإنسان»، مشيراً إلى أنه «شخصياً لا يشجّع كثيراً المحاكم المتخصّصة».

ومن جملة الأسباب، اعتبر غانم «أنّنا نكون بذلك نُنشئ محاكم استثنائية جديدة، أي قضاة يختلفون عن القضاة العاديين، وبالتالي سنقع مجدداً في إشكاليّة محاكم استثنائية وصلاحياتها الواسعة التي ستخلق لنا إشكالية في المستقبل، وإذ أردنا الحفاظ على المنظومة القضائية الحاليّة فإنّها تحوي على محكمة تمييز تكون فيها مرجعية أخرى أعلى».

ويضيف: «في المقابل نكون أجرَينا نوعاً من تخصّص في غرَف الاستثناء في الجزاء ويمكننا بالتالي إجراء دورات للقضاة، وبالتالي فلماذا نغيّر المجرى الموجود طالما إنه أصبح لدينا مدّعٍ عام ماليّ وأصبح لدينا نيابات عامة بيئية في بيروت وفي المحافظات، كما أنّه مَن يضمن أن لا تأتي غداً اقتراحات أخرى تطالب بمدّعٍ عام صحّي».

ويختم غانم بالقول: «أين نصبح عندها، نكون نفتّت المنظومة والهيكلية القضائية وانا لست مع ذلك».

بدوره أقرّ كيروز، في دردشة مع «الجمهورية»، بأنّ «العملية تتعلق بورشة كبيرة، ولكن بعد كلّ هذه السنوات والمطالبات العديدة بإعادة النظر في صلاحيات القضاء العسكري نعتقد أنّه حان الوقت أن نبدأ من مكان معيّن ونقطة معيّنة، ونحن لسنا متوهمين، ونعلم أنّ المسألة معقّدة ويلزمها وقت.

لذلك وببساطة نقول إنّ القوات قدّمت اقتراح مشروع في مجلس النواب عام 2013 طالبنا فيه بإعادة نظر جذرية في صلاحيات القضاء العسكري بحيث يقتصر دوره على ملاحقة الجرائم العسكرية دون أن يمتدّ اختصاصه إلى المدنيين، لأنّه يجب على اللبنانيين أن يعلموا أنّ القضاء العسكري الحالي لا يراعي المحاكم العادلة وحقوق الإنسان، وهو مخالف للدستور وللإعلان العالمي لحقوق الإنسان وللمواثيق الدولية المتعلقة بحقوق الإنسان.

مِن جهته، يكشف رئيس مؤسسة «جوستيسيا» الحقوقية الدكتور بول مرقس لـ«الجمهورية» أنّ «المؤسسة سبقَ ان أطلقت برنامجاً في موضوع تعديل قانون القضاء العسكري لناحية حصرِ صلاحيات المحكمة العسكرية بالجرائم العسكرية التي تتناول العسكريين دون المدنيين والتي ترتبط بوظائفهم وعناصر التعديل، ثمّ وضعه في كتاب صدر هذا الأسبوع بعنوان «المحكمة العسكرية والمحاكمة العادلة وإعادة تحديد الصلاحيات» وذلك لمصلحة المؤسسة العسكرية أيضاً التي تقتضي عدم إقحامها في نزاعات مع مدنيين أو في قضايا اجتماعية وسياسية لا شأن لها بهما، ممّا يثقِل كاهلَ المحكمة العسكرية عوض أن تنصرف إلى مهمّاتها الأساسية الوطنية في الدفاع عن الحدود وضبط الأمن.


وبالعودة إلى فعاليات المؤتمر، فقد تابعَ جعجع الكلمات بدقّة، واستمعَ إلى كافة المتحاورين، فقد حمل المحور الأول، عنوان: «حلول المحاكم العسكرية»، وأدارَه رئيس مصلحة المهَن القانونية في «القوات اللبنانية» المحامي فادي مسلّم، تحدّث وزير العدل اللواء أشرف ريفي عن «إشكالية القضاء العسكري وحقوق الإنسان». وقال: «لا يخفى عليكم أنّ ملف محاكمة ميشال سماحة كان أحد أسباب استقالتي من الحكومة.

لقد شعرتُ بأنه يراد لي كوزير للعدل أن أحمل وزراً لا يرضاه ضميري، ولا يقبل به أيّ مخلِص لوطنه»، معتبراً أنّ «هذه المحكمة العسكرية ارتكبَت جريمة، تفوق جريمة ميشال سماحة وعلي المملوك وبشّار الأسد، فالمجرم سيحاكم على جريمته ولو بعد حين، أمّا العار الكبير، فسيبقى على جبين الجالس على قوس العدالة، إذا تخاذلَ أو جبنَ أو خضع للترهيب أو الترغيب».

وأضاف: «لقد رفضتُ أن أغطّي هذه الفضيحة، ليس فقط وفاءً لدم الشهيد اللواء وسام الحسن، بل حفظاً لدماء أهلنا وأولادنا، التي كانوا يريدون لها أن تُراق في الإفطارت، وفي الكنائس، والتي يجب ان نكون أمَناء لها بمعاقبة المجرم الصغير، وإفهام المجرم الكبير أنّنا جاهزون لمواجهته، وأنّ إجرامه قد يَقتل بعضاً منّا لكنّه، لا يقتل فينا إرادة الحياة. لقد رفضتُ في كلّ مسيرتي أيّ مساومة على المبادئ.

تمسّكتُ دائماً بالدولة والمؤسسات، واليوم أؤكّد هذا النهج، في مواجهة الدويلة وأبواقها، التي تريد أن تستهدف المؤسسات وتشوّه صورتها، والأبرز منها مؤسسة قوى الأمن الداخلي، التي كان لي شرفُ قيادتها في مرحلة مفصلية من تاريخ لبنان الحديث».

من جهته، دعا غانم إلى «حصر صلاحيات المحكمة العسكرية في مختلف درجاتها بالعسكريين، إنْ لجهة الصلاحية النوعية أو لجهة الصلاحية الشخصية، وإبقاء جرائم الإرهاب والجرائم الواقعة على أمن الدولة أو التي تنال من الوحدة الوطنية أو إثارة النعرات الطائفية والحروب الأهلية وجرائم الإتجار بالأسلحة والذخائر والأشخاص، من صلاحية محاكم الاستئناف الجزائية، وإنشاء ضابطة عدلية متخصّصة في جرائم الإرهاب تكون تابعة مباشرةً إلى الغرف الناظرة بهذه الجرائم».

وتمحورَت مداخلة كيروز حول «القضاء العسكري في لبنان: أيّ حقوق؟ فلفتَ إلى أنّ اقتراحه يقوم على «حصر اختصاص المحاكم العسكرية بالجرائم العسكرية، وتوقّف العمل في المحاكم العسكرية وإلغاء صلاحياتها الخارجة عن نطاق اختصاصها، وإحالة الدعاوى والشكاوى الخارجة عن نطاق الاختصاص العسكري والتي ما زالت قيد الملاحقة أو التحقيق أو المحاكمة أمام أجهزة القضاء العسكري إلى المراجع القضائية العدلية المختصة التي تسير بها من النقطة التي وصلت إليها».

أمّا المحور الثاني، الذي أداره الناشط الحقوقي وعضو مؤسسة حقوق الإنسان والحق الإنساني جان بيار قطريب، فقد ناقشَ «انتهاكات حقوق الإنسان في المحاكم العسكرية»، وتحدّثَ فيه مرقس، ومدير البرامج في جمعية «ألف» (تحرّك من أجل حقوق الإنسان) جورج غالي.

من جهتها، أشارت الأمينة العامة للفدرالية الدولية لحقوق الإنسان السفيرة أمينة بو عياش إبنة المغرب في مداخلتها الى أن «المملكة المغربية «تمكنت من إلغاء المحاكم العسكرية، فاعتبر هذا الإنجاز الاهم على مستوى الإرتقاء بالعدل الى مصاف الدول المتقدّمة».

April 6, 2016

The Daily Star - STL prosecution ‘expert’ defends credentials, April 06, 2016

Mat Nashed

A former investigator with the Special Tribunal for Lebanon’s prosecution testified to his expertise in analyzing covert mobile phone networks before of the court Tuesday. The defense argued that Gary Platt shouldn’t be admitted to the court as an “expert” witness due to a risk that he might misinterpret the cell site data to further the prosecution’s case.

“This isn’t simply about putting forth the black and white data. ... It is an analysis that is highly interpretive,” said Ian Edwards, a defense attorney representing the interests of Mustafa Amine Badreddine. “[The defense counsel’s] position is that [Platt] is firstly not an expert. He is a highly experienced analyst.”

The STL is trying five Hezbollah members in absentia over their alleged involvement in the February 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. The prosecution has built their case by focusing on cellphone records, which point to a covert cellular network that was extremely active just moments before the blast that killed the Lebanese statesmam and 21 others.

Platt told the court that he has a strong working knowledge in multiple areas of cell site analysis, even coining himself a police “investigator with expertise.” Regardless of how his knowledge is classified, his former colleagues seem to have high praise for his work. Most notably, Platt employed various cell site assessments to locate a covert cellular network that was used to coordinate a series of suicide bombings on London’s public transport system on July 7, 2005.

“My previous experience on work and investigation crimes and on the usage of mobile phones, gives me a unique insight into how criminals use phones,” Platt told the court. “But there isn’t a textbook into how criminals use mobile phones. In a sense, it’s quite limited.”

However, defense counsel was unconvinced that Platt would be suitable to help the court as an “expert” witness despite his previous experience. Thomas Hannis, the defense attorney representing the interests of Salim Jamil Ayyash, expressed particular concern into how Platt could be able to rely on cell site assessments without possessing any other evidence at his disposal.

He referred to Platt’s benefit of having CCTV footage or an automatic plate recognition system that enabled him to better analyze the cell site data he retrieved when working on high profile crime cases in the United Kingdom. That same benefit isn’t available to him in the case of locating the suspects who assassinated Hariri.

“Another difference in your experience [referring to Platt] from that in Lebanon and yours in the U.K is that you have no CCTV footage of the site of the crime. The automated number plate recognition system, that’s something you also have no evidence for [in Lebanon],” Hannis told Platt during his witness examination.

But Platt defended himself, providing numerous examples where his knowledge of covert cellular networks has helped him catch myriad high profile criminals in the U.K. He also dismissed any notions that his analysis would be compromised due to his prior professional relationship with the prosecutor.

“As I have said from the [outset], my [indictment] reports provided the foundation for the case. It was done independently and then [the prosecutors] built their case from that,” Platt reassured the court.

“In a sense I have used covert phones and I know how it works,” Platt said. “The same thing the villains were doing, we [police] did to a certain extent ourselves. It’s nothing unique. These networks are not unique. The only thing unique about them is the scale.”

The Daily Star - Labor Ministry penalizes employment offices over violations, April 06, 2016

Labor Minister Sejaan Azzi announced Wednesday the cancellation of licenses for employment offices and the fining of foreign worker recruitment agencies over different violations.

In a statement Azzi said the employment offices were not complying with their legal obligations and therefore had their licenses revoked.

Inspectors from the ministry also fined a number of recruitment agencies for employing foreign workers who had no valid work permits.

The owners of these agencies were referred to the public prosecutor.

Azzi announced last month that the number of work permit renewals for domestic workers in Lebanon had decreased by 60 percent, adding that a new system for recruitment offices had been put in place as part of a reform plan in his ministry.

He announced that some 627 recruitment offices used to operate in Lebanon before the ministry began shutting many down as a part of the reforms, adding that there were now 573 offices in the country.

April 5, 2016

Naharnet - Change and Reform Urges 'Measures' to Return Refugees to Syria, April 05, 2016

طالب تكتل "التغيير والاصلاح" الثلاثاء باتخاذ اجراءات ضرورية عملية لعودة النازحين الى سوريا.

وقال التكتل بعد اجتماعه الأسبوعي أن "مسؤولا اوروبيا كبير قال علناً ان خطر التوطين في لبنان جدي".

ورأى انه "بعد الحديث عن مناطق آمنة في سوريا يجب اتخاذ قرارات عملية تقضي بإعادة النازحين الى بلادهم بعد وقف إطلاق النار".

وفيما أكد ان الكتل "مع المساعدات الآنية" للنازحين في لبنان، رفض تشكيل بنى تحتية طويلة المدى، لافتا الى ان "نسبة زيادة سكان لبنان تجاوزت 35%".

وأضاف "لن نذكّر بمواقف وزراء التكتّل واتهامنا بالعنصرية، الا أنه أشار الى ان نفس الكتل السياسية التي تخوننا اليوم لا تريد مواجهة التوطين.

وذكر أن "حجم الذي حصل كبير وهي أكبر نسبة انتقال شعب الى شعب آخر".

وفي سياق، آخر سال التكتل "لماذا لا سناقش الحوار الوطني اقرار قانون الإنتخابات لإجرائها؟".

وشدد على أن "انهاء حالة الفراغ لا تكون شكلية فالمطلوب تصحيح الشراكة الفعلية"، معتبرا أن "هناك فراغ في مسألة التمثيل السياسي النيابي، وهذا أهمّ فراغ".

وخلص الى القول "بعد 26 سنة على الطائف ولا نقرّ قانون انتخابي جديد والبعض لا يريد شراكة مسيحية اسلامية".

ILoubnan - UN agency launches school meals programme for Lebanese and Syrian children, April 05, 2016

A carton of milk or juice, locally-baked snacks and a piece of fruit are included in a school lunch that some children in Lebanon are receiving, as part of a meals programme launched by the United Nations food relief agency.

Some 10,000 vulnerable Lebanese and Syrian refugee children received the schools meals in March, the UN World Food Programme announced, allowing them energy to focus more on their studies.

“By providing children with daily, nutritious meals at school, WFP can ensure improved nutritional intake for these children as well as encouraging their parents to send them to school regularly,” said WFP Lebanon Country Director Dominik Heinrich.

He added that “education is vital to equip the youth of Lebanon and Syria with the tools they will need to contribute to a region that is going through such turmoil and difficulty.”

Over the past five years, more than one million Syrian refugees have attended Lebanon’s public schools. In response, more than 250 public schools have introduced a double shirt system, to allow the enrolment of additional students.

The WFP school meals programme is funded by the Italian Development Cooperation, and is being carried out in close coordination with the Ministry of Education and Higher Education and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

In addition, WFP assists 600,000 Syrian refugees across Lebanon with monthly food vouchers useable at local markets.