Friday, January 13, 2006

Assasination of Rafic Hariri: Thoughts about forming an International Tribunal

Assassination of Rafic Hariri: Forming an International Tribunal

The Security Council acknowledged the request of the Lebanese government to form a tribunal of an international nature for the assassination of late PM Rafic Hariri and requested in its resolution 1644 (December 2005) from the Secretary General to assist the Lebanese Government in specifying the character of the international support needed.

The following are recommendations conducive to the formation and success of the tribunal.

The need to form an International tribunal

1- It provides a stable and neutral venue for the trial since the mere vote to establish the tribunal initiated a governmental conflict that has been ongoing for more than a month.

2- It makes an independent, transparent and sustainable trial possible; one that can operate for several years despite any political/economic instability in Lebanon or any of the related states.

3- It makes trying of non-Lebanese suspects easy.

4- It ensures continuity of International support through the Security Council as the tribunal will be considered as a subsidiary body under the Security Council. This will result in ensuring the cooperation of all member states with the tribunal.

5- It provides better immunity, loyalty, and security of judges as opposed to involving Lebanese judges.

6- It can impede the potential implementation of a special Presidential pardon given to the Lebanese President by the Lebanese constitution to provide pardon to any criminal, as the current or any future President might use his/her prerogatives to provide such a pardon. The nature of the tribunalDefinitions:

- ICTAH: International Criminal Tribunal for the Assassination of Hariri

- Non-involved state: a state that does not hold any suspect, did not participate in any mediation between Lebanon and Syria, is not a current voting member of the Security Council, and have not been involved in any media attacks on Syria or Lebanon.

- UN-SC: UN Security Council

Place, Jurisdiction and applicable law

1- The location should be a non-involved state, with relative economic and political stability. The municipal law of the hosting state should permit the formation of such tribunals.

2- Jurisdiction of ICTAH should be limited to the assassination of late PM Rafic Hariri and 22 others including former MP Bassel Fuleihan. All other side cases or related issues should be forwarded to the Lebanese Government through the proper channels, whenever they are encountered.

3- Jurisdiction of ICTAH should not be bound by time.

4- Main applicable law should be a duplicate of the Lebanese municipal law, with modifications to be made so that the applicable law of ICTAH becomes compatible with states that currently hold suspects: Syria, France and Turkey.

5- Initial pacts should be signed with the states mentioned under item 4. The pacts should identify the tribunal's stand with regards to issues like the death penalty, absentee trial and other technical matters related to the trial and specific laws of these states.

6- The UN-SC shall specify a clear structure for the tribunal, its sub-offices, their budget, staff…
7- The special Presidential pardon that the President of the Lebanese Republic can award to pardon any criminal shall not be applicable for criminals convicted by ICTAH. Financial issues

8- The government of Lebanon jointly with UN-SC should identify the sources of funding for ICTAH from non-involved states.

9- The UN-SC shall devise a clear financial plan identifying issues related to auditing and reporting to donor states and/or organizations in financial matters.

10- The UN-SC shall provide financial autonomy for each office inside ICTAH in order to avoid any conflict between offices in case of financial shortage. Appointment of Judges and Staff

11- The floor shall be open for International judges to nominate themselves, or be nominated by their respective states.

12- Judges who are citizens of involved states or of donor states shall be excluded from running.

13- The Lebanese government can decide by a three-forth majority to exclude judges from the list of applicants after providing a proper justification.

14- The UN-SC shall directly appoint the judges, if the Lebanese government fails to take a decision on the list within a period of three months starting when it officially receives the list.

15- The UN-SC shall also appoint the staff of the tribunal Logistics

16- UN-SC should initiate the tribunal through a resolution as soon as possible.

17- ICTAH should issue quarterly reports to the UN-SC to keep the council updated on the matter.

18- The sessions of the tribunal should be public and should be broadcasted by the Lebanese public Television at least (unless the television objects or is dissolved).

19- After the appointments, the Prosecutor should prepare a set of priorities and tentative time tables for his/her work.

20- ICTAH should sign witness protection programs with all states which accept to provide such support prior to starting the trials.

21- The Lebanese Government should appoint a liaison judge between the tribunal and the Lebanese government. The government and the tribunal must provide immunity and security for him/her and security for his/her family and close friends.

22- The above 21 items require the approval of the Lebanese government to be forwarded after that to the UN-SC via the UN Secretary General as specified in UN-SC resolution 1644, in consistency with the principle of state sovereignty.

23- The UN-SC shall approve the above 21 items after possibly modifying them and adopt a resolution to establish the ICTAH.