The battle for freedom: Al-Akhbar vs. the authorities

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Al-Akhbar Editor-in-Chief Ibrahim al-Amin in front of a poster calling for solidarity amongst the Lebanese press to confront the STL. (Photo: Haitham Moussawi)

By: Ibrahim al-Amin

Published Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Karma Khayat has said lucidly and clearly everything that the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) needed to hear. What the STL will choose to listen to instead will serve to clarify the true nature of the STL’s work. But let’s go back to our country, where the main problem lies – where we need to restate things, quite frankly and clearly, and where the STL’s work has its own sordid story.

Lebanon’s legislative, executive, and judicial authorities, without exception, continue to provide cover for the STL in one way or another, even though the tribunal was established in a way that violated the Lebanese constitution. The STL often operated in violation of Lebanese laws, practiced all kinds of abuse, and flagrantly flouted Lebanon’s sovereignty.

So far, the advice we have obtained officially and from sources close to the ruling factions do not portend well. This is true not only of March 14, but all political factions that have been represented in government since 2005.

There is a terrible joke officials often make, that the STL is an inescapable reality, and that we must act accordingly. This joke is sometimes followed by an equally obnoxious piece of advice: Go choose an appropriate legal defense team. In short, Lebanon’s officials are telling us: We might be with you, but we have nothing more to offer.

Simply put, the problem the Lebanese press and media are facing is with the Lebanese authorities and the country’s powerful institutions, which do not seem intent on lifting a finger to address the scandals related to the irregularities in the STL’s work. Instead, we are being promised by ministers that they would act immediately if the STL asks them to arrest and silence us.

It is important to note, however, that the Lebanese government can indeed do something. It can request a meeting with the United Nations, represented by the secretary-general, who is tasked by the Security Council to oversee this issue, and notify him that there is a conflict of laws, and that the STL must abide by Lebanese laws, especially since the contempt case is not connected to the main case for which the STL was established. That is, unless those behind the lawsuit have a different agenda, for example, to implicate us in the crime. This is not an analysis, this is what both senior and junior members of the political prosecution team in Lebanon and beyond are saying.

Furthermore, there is something else that concerns the Lebanese government today and it is related to the fact that Lebanon is the largest contributor to the funding of the STL. On February 13, 2008, the UN secretary-general established the Management Committee of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon to provide advice and policy direction on all non-judicial aspects of the operations of the Special Tribunal and review and approve its annual budget. It is composed of the main donors to the STL (The United States, Lebanon, Britain, the Netherlands, Italy, Canada, France, Japan, and Germany).

Of course, no meeting was held, and Lebanon did not even ask to examine a breakdown of the budget. No one expects the Lebanese authorities to do this going forward either. Neither Ibrahim Najjar nor Chakib Cortbawi, the former ministers of justice, did, nor will Ashraf Rifi, the current minister of justice.

Our real battle is with the existing authorities in Lebanon. Even if political divisions prevent any change in the conduct of the Lebanese authorities, this will not prevent us from holding them accountable and forcing them to do the jobs for which they are paid exorbitant salaries from our pockets.

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

Comments

freedom of interception ar the legitimate rights for the World wide media , my totalyl support for ( karma khayat & Ibrahim al-amin ) !!!!

And Mr. Ibrahim who pays your salary? Hezbollah? Syria via Iran? Besides vague accusations against the STlL you have given no proof or evidence of your claims that, "The STL often operated in violation of Lebanese laws, practiced all kinds of abuse, and flagrantly flouted Lebanon’s sovereignty." What possible good could have come out of your naming and identifying with address and photo people on the list of potential witnesses? This is not about journalism it is about obstruction of justice in the murder of a minister who happened to be your political enemy, but 21 others as well. You and your rag newspaper spouts venom and hate along with Hezbollah propaganda.

So all of a sudden this whole argument wasn't about who killed Hariri and show the West was in it, but instead become anarchist and kill the government or the tribunal because the take money from our pockets? What the hell!? All because of one post you all of a sudden change the game, and doing what the West wants you to do, in order for them to exploit our oil which is in our ocean so they can use it to heat up their houses during the cold nights while we starve? Wow you guys sure are great at telling it like it is!

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