BEIRUT — The Administration and Justice Committee held its first meeting of its four-year term Thursday, with committee head MP George Adwan (LF/Chouf) saying it will prioritize working on “independence of the judiciary” legislation and will enable the new Parliament to exercise its oversight role over government, reported the state-run National News Agency.
Here’s what we know:
• In its first meeting, the Administration and Justice Committee decided to hold a session every month to discuss the activation of the government’s oversight council.
• Adwan told L’Orient Today that the committee wrote an urgent statement asking caretaker Justice Minister Henri Khoury, affiliated with the Free Patriotic Movement, to return the draft law on the independence of the judiciary so the committee can move it forward to Parliament. The minister had taken the draft, intending to add his comments to it, before May’s legislative elections.
• Adwan also told L’Orient Today that laws that are issued and not implemented will be subject to vigorous follow-up.
• Prime Minister Najib Mikati announced in March that the justice minister had been tasked with addressing the “shortcomings” in the judiciary as related to orders that froze the assets of some seven commercial banks in the country.
• Paula Yaacoubian told L’Orient Today that it’s a “shame that Melhem Khalaf (an opposition MP and former head of the Beirut Bar Association) is not on the committee, and that the committee is, rather, comprised of kellon yaani kellon, or "all of them means all of them," meaning members of the traditional political establishment.
• The Youth and Sports Committee, and Agricultural and Tourism Committee also held their first meetings today.
• Youth and Sports, headed by MP Simon Abi Ramia (FPM/Mount Lebanon I) met to exchange ideas among committee members, and to define the work methodology that should be followed moving forward. Abi Ramia said the “youth are currently living in a state of despair and frustration due to the current situation, and the committee has several ideas to turn this around,” the NNA reported.
• Abi Ramia stated that the committee has plans to give the country’s youth an outlet through sports.
• The Agricultural and Tourism Committee, headed by MP Ayoub Hmayed(Amal/ South III), held a session in the joint committee's hall Thursday, to discuss the committee's work methodology.
• Parliamentary committees play an important role at the legislative level in debating and approving bills before they are presented to the legislature to be voted on. Among the most important of these are the Administration and Justice Committee, the Finance and Budget Committee, and the Environment Committee.