The National Bloc released the following statement:
The Forces of Change MPs and representatives launched the September 16 initiative for justice in Beirut Port explosion in a press conference at the headquarters of the "National Bloc" party, by calling on the United Nations Human Rights Council to demand the establishment of an international fact-finding mission into Aug. 4 explosion after the regime obstructed the course of the domestic investigation into the explosion by shielding politicians and officials implicated in the explosion from questioning, prosecution, and arrest.
The demand comes in response to the approval of the Supreme Judicial Council on the decision of Minister of Justice Henry Khoury to appoint an alternate judge to the judicial investigator in the Beirut Port explosion, Tarek Bitar, and the continuous illegal attempts to hamper the investigation.
MPs Mark Daou and Waddah Sadek, and member of the Executive Committee of the "National Bloc" Michel Helou, and activist in the “August 4 Gathering”, Paul Najjar, participated in the press conference.
For his part, MP Mark Daou affirmed that parties, groups and deputies are turning to the Human Rights Council at the United Nations and the international community in Lebanon and abroad, with the help and support of expatriates, to establish an international fact-finding mission.
He pointed out that the launch of the September 16 initiative for justice aims to gather the largest number of forces and representatives in order to support the demand for the establishment of the mission, and announced the start of a series of meetings in Lebanon and abroad with relevant international organizations and diplomatic missions next week.
Daou revealed “as deputies of change we will also work to establish a parliamentary investigation committee on the heinous August 4 crime, and monitor the investigation’s progress and put an end to the interference of the political authority, while we will continue our work to achieve the independence of the judiciary, which will definitely take time, but we will complete it to the end within the parliament and outside it”.
MP Waddah Sadek considered the appointment of an alternate judge as a wrong action committed by the Minister of Finance, Minister of Justice and President of the Supreme Judicial Council. He called on Judge Samaranda Nassar to reject the decision to appoint her as an alternate judge.
Sadek stressed that the only solution today is to resort to an international fact-finding mission, after the government's neglect and irresponsibility towards handling the port explosion has forced us to take this decision. He added fighting for justice in the Port bombing inspired us to run in the elections. “Although our number is small, we have a cause, and our cause is righteous and we will greatly support the " August 4 Gathering" and September 16 initiative”, he concluded.
Michel Helou pointed out that the battle of the regime is to "stop the investigation," and the worst is the attempt to bury the case and erase it from our collective memory. He added “after the explosion we resorted to the judiciary and put our faith in the rule of law, and that the magnitude of the crime should force the judiciary to rise up to responsibility on the one hand, and that the pressure and suspicions in the authority should be a deterrent on the other”.
He stressed that the decision of the Supreme Judicial Council to accept the request of Minister of Justice Henry Khoury is further evidence that it is impossible to rely on the judiciary in Lebanon to investigate a major case in the absence of a law that guarantees the independence of the judicial institutions.
Helou announced from the bloc's headquarters, the September 16 initiative, to put pressure on the Human Rights Council at the United Nations in Geneva, with the aim of establishing an international fact-finding committee to achieve justice and uncover the truth, not only for victims, survivors, and their families but also for Lebanon. He revealed “there are a number of steps that we will take to put pressure on the families of the victims and on political forces that agree on this proposed measure”.
For his part, Paul Najjar, a survivor of the explosion, explained that after many workshops with the families of the victims and human rights associations, “it has become more than ever, clear that the domestic investigation cannot deliver justice, making the establishment of an international fact-finding mission mandated by the UN Human Rights Council all the more urgent”.
He pointed out that the Secretary-General of the United Nations has the capacity to request the "Human Rights Council" to establish a fact-finding mission. The mission should establish the facts and circumstances, including the root causes, of the explosion, with a view to establishing state and individual responsibility and supporting justice for the victims.
Najjar stressed that once such a decision is taken, a fact-finding mission is dispatched to help the judge in the investigation to uncover the truth.