UN rights chief calls for ‘serious’ Lebanon blast investigation

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The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights called for a “serious investigation” into the disastrous 2020 Beirut port explosion in a call that was echoed by dozens of other countries on Tuesday.

Families of victims, rights groups, and even some political parties in Lebanon have lambasted political stonewalling of the local investigation into the blast that killed some 220 people.

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The investigating judge has tried to resume his inquiry after a 13-month suspension due to high-level interference but Lebanon’s top prosecutor has told clerks not to process his decisions.

“Serious investigation into the explosion of August 2020 is urgently needed, without political interference or further delay,” Volker Turk said in his global address to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Shortly afterwards, Australia’s envoy read out a statement on behalf of 38 countries including many European states, Canada, Britain and Israel calling for a “swift, independent, credible and transparent investigation.”

It said the investigation to date had been “hampered by systematic obstruction, interference, intimidation, and a political impasse.”

Separately, the US ambassador to the council, Michele Taylor, said that a timely and transparent investigation was required and said the lack of progress to date underscored the need for judicial reform.

Paul Naggear, father of Alexandra Naggear, a toddler who died in the explosion, told Reuters he was pleased with the broad support for the statement.

“The most important thing is a general acknowledgment that the Lebanese authorities have been systematically blocking justice. It’s not just us that are saying this now - it’s international,” he said.

“This should show to the Lebanese population that when we unite efforts and work together we can beat the regime.”

Read more: Lebanese MP delivers petition to US: Sanction obstructers of Beirut blast probe

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