BEIRUT — On the eve of the third anniversary of the Beirut port blast, a UN-founded international support group for Lebanon expressed its solidarity with the families of the victims and with those whose lives, homes, and livelihoods were “severely affected by this tragic event.”
The blast that ravaged Beirut on Aug. 4, 2020, killed over 220 people, wounded more than 6,500 and destroyed swaths of the capital.
“Three years since this deadly explosion … Lebanese people are left wanting for truth, justice and accountability,” said the International Support Group for Lebanon (ISG) in a statement.
The statement lamented the lack of progress in the judicial proceedings, and called on Lebanese authorities “to lift all obstacles hindering the pursuit of justice and facilitate the completion of an impartial, thorough and transparent investigation.”
Investigations related to the Beirut port explosion have been frozen since last February due to interference from politicians and judges. As part of the investigations, several high-ranking Lebanese officials are being prosecuted by Judge Tarek Bitar but refuse to appear in court.
Several judicial sources told L'Orient-Le Jour in July that Judge Bitar plans to continue his investigation at all costs.
“Ensuring judicial accountability and combating impunity is integral to restoring the credibility of Lebanon’s state institutions," continued the ISG statement. "The stalemate in the port explosion investigation underscores the urgent need to safeguard the independence, impartiality and integrity of the Lebanese judiciary. The members of the ISG call on the Lebanese Parliament to accelerate the adoption of necessary legislation to strengthen the independence of the judiciary in line with international standards.”
“The ISG continues to stand by Lebanon and its people,” the statement concluded.
Established in Sept. 2013 by then-UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon with former Lebanese President Michel Suleiman to help mobilize support and assistance for Lebanon, ISG comprises representatives of the UN, China, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States, as well as the European Union and the Arab League.