This August 4, three years will have passed since a massive explosion at Beirut port killed more than 220 innocent people, injured over 7,000 and destroyed so many houses, buildings, neighborhoods and businesses.
Three years: longer than the life of Isaac Oehlers, the youngest victim of the blast.
Three years: half as long as thousands of tons of ammonium nitrate were improperly and knowingly stored in a warehouse at the Beirut port.
Yet, three years on, victims’ families and the Lebanese people generally have no answers as to how this tragedy occurred. They remain without truth, without justice and without closure.
The investigation into the Beirut port blast, launched in August 2020, has remained effectively stalled since December 2021. Investigative Judge Tarek Bitar, who attempted to resume his investigation in January 2023, is now under a travel ban and is himself subject to investigation. With the prevention of due process, there are no answers in sight.
Given the magnitude of the Beirut port disaster – one of the most powerful non-nuclear explosions in history – this delay in justice and accountability in Lebanon adds to the suffering of the families of the victims, who have the right to know what happened and who bears responsibility.
This lack of transparency and accountability does not serve Lebanon well. It means lessons are not learned, and those responsible go unpunished.
We, representatives of three countries who lost nationals in the Beirut port blast, join our voices with the families of the hundreds of Lebanese victims, and call on Lebanese authorities to break this cycle of impunity.
We call on Lebanon’s authorities — whose responsibility it is to ensure the investigations can follow their due course — to stop the obstruction and delays in the investigation, to safeguard the full independence of the Lebanese judiciary and to allow the judiciary to carry out and finish its task without interference.
Since the judicial process is facing obstruction and interference in Lebanon, we call on authorities to also make relevant documents and files related to the explosion available to investigations abroad — where possible under Lebanese and international law.
In March 2023, we joined with more than thirty other countries in delivering a joint statement before the Human Rights Council, to express our solidarity with all the victims of the blast and their families. We expressed our concern and our frustration that Lebanon’s investigation had not yet concluded and we urged Lebanon to abide by its international human rights obligations to take all necessary measures to safeguard, in law and in practice, the full independence and impartiality of the Lebanese judiciary.
On the same day, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights also called for a serious investigation into the August 4 explosion “without political interference or further delay.”
The third anniversary of the blast reminds us that yet more time has passed without an effective investigation of this tragedy; that for now, the cycle of impunity continues. This is unacceptable and a show of deep disrespect towards the victims.
Today, Australia, the Netherlands and Germany, call again for Lebanon’s decision-makers, both political and judicial, to ensure a swift, independent, impartial, credible, and transparent investigation into the explosion can be carried out, without any further delay.
The victims of the Beirut port tragedy and their families deserve remedy, justice, accountability and truth about the blast. So too do the Lebanese people.
Ambassador of the Netherlands to Lebanon: Hans Peter van der Woude
Ambassador of Germany to Lebanon: Andreas Kindl
Ambassador of Australia to Lebanon: Andrew Barnes
This August 4, three years will have passed since a massive explosion at Beirut port killed more than 220 innocent people, injured over 7,000 and destroyed so many houses, buildings, neighborhoods and businesses.Three years: longer than the life of Isaac Oehlers, the youngest victim of the blast.Three years: half as long as thousands of tons of ammonium nitrate were improperly and knowingly...