UN human rights experts have said the huge deadly explosion in Beirut on August 4 requires a prompt and independent investigation that underscores international human rights obligations, clarifies responsibilities related to the explosion, and leads to justice and accountability.
In view of the seriousness of global concerns, they sought consideration of a special debate at the UN Human Rights Council this September so as to explore all possible avenues by which justice for the multiple victims of the explosion, and for the people in Lebanon at large, is rendered effectively, transparently and impartially.
They also want to see non-repetition is secured through long-term systemic reforms based on open consultations with the people in Lebanon; and urgent assistance is provided by the international community to Lebanon and its people to address the immediate needs of shelter, food, medical, health and other related needs emerging from the disaster.
"We also stand in solidarity with the people of Lebanon, and especially extend our concern and condolences to the victims," said the UN experts in a statement issued from on Thursday.
They said the scale and impact of the lethal explosion are unprecedented.
"We’re deeply concerned about the level of irresponsibility and impunity surrounding human and environmental devastation on this scale," the statement said.
The catastrophic blast occurred while Lebanon is already confronted by a devastating political, economic and financial crisis, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to a sharp deterioration of human rights protection and much suffering.
As of today, approximately 170 people have lost their lives, thousands are wounded, at least 300,000 are now homeless, and dozens are missing.
With the Port of Beirut and the country’s main grain storage silos almost completely destroyed, as well as the hospitals and medical equipment severely impacted, the capacity of the authorities to meet their obligations to protect the rights to food, adequate housing and the right to health are also seriously diminished, the statement reads.
At this stage, urgent assistance, support and reparation to victims are essential, without discrimination, the experts said.
They also called on the national authorities to allow peaceful protests and protect demonstrators and journalists.
"All Lebanese, civil society and affected communities must be able to freely influence government decision making during this critical moment, including in relation to the coordination, oversight and delivery of any foreign aid."
Marcos A. Orellana, Agnès Callamard, Michael Fakhri, Fionnuala D. Ní Aoláin, Michael Lynk, Clément Nyaletsossi Voule, Léo Heller, Diego García-Sayán, Claudia Mahler, Surya Deva, Elżbieta Karska, Githu Muigai, Dante Pesce (Vice-Chair), Anita Ramasastry (Chair); Yuefen Li, E. Tendayi Achiume, Obiora C. Okafor, Ahmed Shaheed and Nils Melzer are among the experts.