The Special Tribunal for Lebanon sets judicial standards

Ever since Lebanon’s establishment, a forced harmony was established with murderers who spread the culture of death to take the lead

Diana Moukalled
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Someone in Lebanon has adopted murder and physical elimination as a means to govern and have authority in public life. Assassinations in Lebanon are considered to be the highest percentage in the world, considering the country’s size and short history.

Ever since Lebanon’s establishment, a forced harmony was established with murderers who spread the culture of death to take the lead. These murderers eliminated their victims in any way possible, via an explosion, assassination or permanent abduction. A formula granting murderers a post in public and political life was fixated. Meanwhile, all that the victim has to do is die and fade away silently. If some survive for some reason, all they have to do is accept that and thank God they’re alive under the ceiling the murderers have planned for them.

Peak of patriotism

This was adopted under the slogan that murdering rivals is the peak of patriotism.

Ever since Lebanon’s establishment, a forced harmony was established with murderers who spread the culture of death to take the lead

Diana Moukalled

The core of this formula was shaken by the spectacular realism the Lebanese and the rest of the world followed up on few days ago via the Special Tribunal for Lebanon which began its trials in the murder of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri.

The prosecution presented a live audio and visual representation of the events that led up to the Feb. 14, 2005 crime and mentioned accurate details on how five Hezbollah members were involved in monitoring Hariri and in preparing for the explosion. We watched the path of the accused for months before the crime and we also watched a map of their communication and movement via data that was gathered and authenticated.

Deviating from its role

The show which STL prosecutors put on resembles investigative journalistic work. But isn’t investigation a shared practice between journalists and judiciaries?

And just like journalism can deviate from its role, the judiciary can too. The latter may tamper with its major task of achieving justice. This is what happened in all assassination cases which struck Lebanon - the judiciary was incapable and its hands were tied.

But this STL is the first serious and professional judicial path for a crime described as terrorism. The Lebanese and the Arabs have never followed up on trials that are professional to this extent. To be more accurate, public opinion here has never followed up with any professional trial at all because the idea of justice, in its procedural and judicial meaning, and not in its spiritual meaning, is not that common in our regimes.

Narrating our story

The STL came to break this idea. Calmly and in a dramatic and visual language based on data, someone narrated our story in this country for us - or rather documented our story in the entire region. When I followed up on the tribunal’s details, I realized why it was subject to this massive amount of political and media campaigns over the course of the previous nine years. Of course, these campaigns were resumed restoring their “resistance” rhetoric that keeps repeating that the tribunal is politicized and hasn’t presented anything new. Opinions that the trial was boring also recently emerged.

The course of justice may be long and boring, but this lies in the core of its characteristics. Unlike murder and violence, speed and excitement are not features of justice.

The Lebanese people’s story with this tribunal has not ended yet. And it will certainly witness more upcoming chapters. Everything that happened in Lebanon during the past nine years is directly or indirectly linked to the STL. The tribunal may not bring security quickly to Lebanon, but it’s certainly a proper entrance to the concept of accountability.

This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on Jan. 19, 2014.

Diana Moukalled is the Web Editor at the Lebanon-based Future Television and was the Production & Programming Manager with at the channel. Previously, she worked there as Editor in Chief, Producer and Presenter of “Bilayan al Mujaradah,” a documentary that covers hot zones in the Arab world and elsewhere, News and war correspondent and Local news correspondent. She currently writes a regular column in AlSharq AlAwsat. She also wrote for Al-Hayat Newspaper and Al-Wasat Magazine, besides producing news bulletins and documentaries for Reuters TV. She can be found on Twitter: @dianamoukalled.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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