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Souheil Abboud: The judiciary is in 'difficult and critical' situation

The President of the Higher Judicial Council denounced "political interference" in the judiciary.

Souheil Abboud: The judiciary is in 'difficult and critical' situation

Judge Souheil Abboud and new sworn-in judges at the Beirut courthouse, on Nov. 18, 2022. (Credit: Higher Judicial Council Handout)

BEIRUT — Lebanon is in a "difficult and critical" situation, with political interference causing "judicial chaos," Higher Judicial Council president Souhel Abboud said in a speech Friday. 

In his remarks, which he made during the swearing-in of 34 new judges in Beirut, Abboud also regretted the "absence of a law on the independence of the judiciary."

He accused political authorities of "interfering in the judiciary, which hinders the work in the courts and causes judicial chaos."

Abboud also criticized the "political power" of blocking a proposal to reshuffle judicial appointments since 2020. There is "no independent justice without judicial appointments," he said. "The political power has blocked these appointments under various pretexts."

'We do not have the luxury of time'

Abboud expressed support for judges demanding improved salaries, a majority of whom have been on strike for months, and called for the re-equipment of courthouses. "The judges would not be on strike if we had listened to their demands. We reach out to the Executive and the Legislative to remedy this situation because we do not have the luxury of time," he said.

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With the Lebanese state in collapse, much of the public infrastructure, including courthouses, cannot be maintained. Some judges have reported that they have to pay for their own office supplies, while their offices and courtrooms are unlit due to a lack of electricity.

Port blast

Abboud has been the direct target for several weeks of a campaign orchestrated by the camp of former President Michel Aoun, in order to make him bend to appointing an alternate judge for the Aug. 4, 2020 Beirut port blast investigation. The probe has been blocked by the many appeals filed against the magistrate by officials implicated.

"There is no independent justice without continuing the investigation into the port explosion," Abboud said on Friday.

Caretaker Justice Minister Henry Khoury, who is close to the Free Patriotic Movement had proposed to the HJC to appoint a magistrate to rule on the requests for the release of detainees in the investigation, even though current investigating Judge Tarek Bitar is still in office.

Among these detainees is the former director of customs Badri Daher, who is also considered close to former president Michel Aoun's FPM. This proposal was rejected by Abboud.


BEIRUT — Lebanon is in a "difficult and critical" situation, with political interference causing "judicial chaos," Higher Judicial Council president Souhel Abboud said in a speech Friday. In his remarks, which he made during the swearing-in of 34 new judges in Beirut, Abboud also regretted the "absence of a law on the independence of the judiciary."He accused political authorities of...