Republican lawmakers urged US President Joe Biden on Thursday to sanction those responsible for the recent assassination of prominent Lebanese activist Lokman Slim.
“The Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act could serve as an appropriate tool to hold those responsible accountable for the extrajudicial killing of Lokman Slim,” House Foreign Affairs Committee Lead Republican Michael McCaul and Chairman Gregory Meeks wrote to Biden in a letter.
The United States passed a law known as the Magnitsky Act in 2012 under which it has imposed visa bans and asset freezes on Russian officials linked to the death of Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian lawyer arrested in 2008 after alleging that Russian officials were involved in large-scale tax fraud.
Lokman Slim was shot dead and found in his car on February 4 in south Lebanon - the first killing of a high-profile activist in years.
The activist’s family had hinted that Iran-allied Hezbollah was behind the killing, without naming the group. Hezbollah’s Hassan Nasrallah dismissed accusations of any links between the group and Slim’s murder.
“We believe Slim’s murder could constitute a sanctionable gross violation of internationally recognized human rights committed against a foreign person seeking to exercise and promote basic freedoms and the rule of law,” the US officials said.
“We urge you to consider utilizing Magnitsky authorities in calibrating the appropriate response to Slim’s murder. We similarly urge you to consider any relevant information, including with respect to officials in the Governments of Lebanon and Iran, if appropriate in calibrating such a response,” the added.
Who was Lokman Slim?
Slim was born in Beirut's southern suburbs, a Hezbollah stronghold, where he lived all his life. He returned from abroad, when most people were leaving, during the 2006 war with Israel, as the suburbs were being bombed.
He founded Umam, a research and film production house with a library documenting Lebanon's and Shia history. His family owns a publishing house and Slim hosted public debates and political forums and art shows, including exhibitions documenting the civil war's missing. He and his wife worked on a film documenting the atrocities of Syria's notorious Tadmor prison.
In 2009, he and his wife organized a private viewing at their center for an Oscar-nominated anti-war Israeli cartoon about Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon and the rise of the then-President Bachir Gemayel, in defiance of Hezbollah and Lebanese authorities, who have banned it.
Slim also set up Haya Bina, or “Let's go,” a group that encouraged participation in 2005 parliamentary elections, called for changes to Lebanon's sectarian-based system, and taught women English.
- With The Associated Press, Reuters