Open Letter to Lebanese Prime Minister Tammam Salam

2014-06-11    |   

Open Letter to Lebanese Prime Minister Tammam Salam

Beirut on June 2, 2014

Open Letter to lebanese Prime Minister Tammam Salam

Dear Prime Minister,

On March 4, 2014, the State Council issued a landmark decision ordering the State to deliver the full investigation dossier of the Official Commission of Inquiry to investigate the Fate of the Kidnapped and Missing Persons in Lebanon, appointed by the former Prime Minister Salim El-Hoss in 2000. The petitioners, Wadad Halawani representing the Committee of the Families of the Kidnapped and Disappeared in Lebanon and Ghazi Aad representing Support of Lebanese in Detention and Exile (SOLIDE), both represented by the Attorney Nizar Saghieh, initiated the proceedings of this case by filing a request submitted to the Prime Minister on April 29, 2009. This was followed by a memorandum of issuable matter and a review before the State Council that lead to the above-mentioned decision.

This decision, Sir, is a landmark decision since it represents the first official acknowledgment, in terms of its comprehensiveness and explicitness, of the right to know, allowing Lebanon to be in conformity with the international legal system and contributing to the formation and reinforcement of international universal principles with respect to this matter; it constitutes the right of the families of the missing to know. The decision emphasized the fact that any delay in or failure to provide the families of the missing with information regarding their fate, is deemed as torture according to the Convention against Torture. As a matter of fact, this decision was tremendously welcomed internationally and locally.

And since we expected your government to pride itself on this decision, which reflects the improvement of judicial performance, and to implement it as part of your responsibility in preserving the rights of citizens, we were surprised by an objectionable behavior that you may not be fully aware of. On May 6, 2014, the judicial body requested a re-trial along with a stay of execution claiming that the implementation of the decision threatens civil peace.

Apart from the poor reasoning the request relied on, which notes the presence of substantial disagreements in the proceedings and what the State Council will decide upon regarding this matter, we find that the mere request of re-trial is insulting to the missing persons and their families, who have suffered terribly for decades due to the failure of successive governments to underline the crucial importance of their rights, most notably their right to know. And not only so but, seeking to delay the implementation of the decision through this request leads to the unending suffering of the families of the missing, as well as being an appeal against one of the most important decisions of the Lebanese judicial system ever.

Accordingly, we are hereby asking you, sincerely, to advise the judicial body to refrain from requesting a re-trial and to take the initiative to immediately implement the decision along with adopting all the necessary measures to ensure the right of the families of the missing to know about the fates of their loved ones. We assert that failing to answer this request will make you directly responsible for the continuing suffering of the families of the missing.

The signatories

The Committee of the Families of the Kidnapped and Disappeared in Lebanon; Support of Lebanese in Detention and Exile (Solide); Wehadatouna Khalasouna; Offre Joie; Arab NGO Network for Development ; Legal Agenda; Committee of Lebanese political detainees in Syrian Prisons; Zoukak; Abaad; Nahwa Al Mouwatiniya; Palestinian Human Rights Organization-PHRO; Union de la Jeunesse Démocratique Libanaise; Civil Society Movement ; Lebanese Economic Association; Sustainable Democracy Center; Lebanese Center for Policy Studies; UMAM D&R; Peace Initiatives; KAFA (enough) Violence & Exploitation; Center for Lebanese Studies; Fédération Euro-Méditerranéenne Contre les Disparitions Forcées, Lebanon Support, Frontiers Ruwad Association.

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