Facing financial difficulties, the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) may close after July, over a decade after its establishment.
“The Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) regrets to announce that it is facing an unprecedented financial crisis,” the U.N. Tribunal said in a statement on Wednesday.
“Without immediate funding, the Tribunal will not be able to operate beyond July 2021,” it added.
Despite the fact that the 2021 budget was cut by 37%, and the $15.5-million contribution provided by the United Nations on Lebanon’s behalf in March, the Tribunal still needs other contributions that haven’t materialized, the statement explained.
According to Reuters, STL court officials have informed U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Gutteres of the situation, while judges and staff are preparing steps to preserve court records and take measures “related to the protection of witnesses.”
The announcement comes one week after a report revealed that the STL had run out of funding to carry out its work on the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.
The ongoing economic and political crisis in Lebanon has directly impacted the STL‘s funding.
According to U.N. Security Council Resolution 1757, based on which the Tribunal was established in 2009, Lebanon is required to cover nearly half of the funding, while other countries fund the rest.
More than 2 dozen countries have collectively contributed to providing 51% of the Tribunal’s required funding since it began investigating the Hariri case.