Skip to main content
Amnesty International UK
Log in

Lebanon: authorities 'shamelessly' blocking Beirut blast investigation

Judge Tarek Bitar has reportedly charged high-ranking officials but has once again been blocked

Seventeen low-level officials still languish in pre-trial detention after two-and-a-half years 

‘The Lebanese authorities have shamelessly and systematically obstructed the pursuit of justice’ - Aya Majzoub

Responding to news that the Lebanese authorities have refused to allow an investigating judge - Tarek Bitar - to resume his investigation into the 2020 Beirut port explosion, even after he presented a detailed legal analysis that would allow him to do so, Aya Majzoub, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director, said:

"The Lebanese authorities have shamelessly and systematically obstructed the pursuit of justice in the Beirut blast case by protecting accused politicians and security officials instead of standing up for the rights of survivors, victims’ families and all residents of Beirut.

“Judge Bitar’s legal analysis offers a clear pathway to pursuing justice, yet the authorities have deliberately chosen to ignore it and have abused their power to evade accountability and impede the investigation.

“Survivors of the explosion, families of those who lost their lives in the tragedy, and the residents of Beirut all deserve that those responsible for this devastating blast are held accountable.”

High-ranking officials reportedly charged

Earlier today, the Public Prosecutor at the Court of Cassation released a statement saying it will treat Judge Bitar’s legal analysis on resuming his investigation into the Beirut explosion as “non-existent”. The devastating explosion killed more than 200 people in August 2020,

Reports in Lebanese media today said Judge Bitar has charged a number of high-ranking Lebanese officials over the blast, including Major General Abbas Ibrahim, Head of the General Security Agency, and Major General Tony Saliba, Head of the State Security apparatus, and has ordered the release of five detainees who had been in detention since 2020. The accused politicians have filed more than 25 requests to dismiss Bitar and other judges involved in the case, moves which have led to numerous delays. The latest legal challenges have seen the case suspended since December 2021.

Meanwhile, at least 17 mostly mid- to low-level officials have been detained since August and September 2020 in relation to the case, in conditions that appear to violate their due process rights, including the right of anyone held in pretrial detention to a speedy trial or release and an independent judicial review of the decision to detain them.

In June 2021, Amnesty and a coalition of more than 100 Lebanese and international organisations, as well as survivors and victims’ families, wrote to the UN Human Rights Council calling for an international investigation into the Beirut blast. In August last year, more than two dozen Lebanese MPs also called on the Human Rights Council to establish an international fact-finding mission into the blast.

View latest press releases