The Lebanese Parliament has been the center of attention for the past two days. Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri was forced to postpone last week’s session to Tuesday, November 19th (today), submitting to the increasing pressure caused by the protesters who opposed the planned approval of the general amnesty law.
The protesters gathered around the Parliament building and blocked all entrances leading to Beirut’s Nejmeh Square, intending to prevent MPs from reaching the building, thus preventing the session from taking place.
As a result, today’s session was postponed again, this time indefinitely. Moreover, the constitutionality of this Parliamentary session has been questioned by legal experts. The general amnesty draft law included in the agenda of the session is one of the main reasons for this resistance from the protesters.
Although the approval of such a law would mean the release of people who have been unjustly punished and imprisoned, it would also mean the acquittal of politicians and criminals charged with corruption cases and/or the commutation of their sentences.
To explain: The draft pardons offenses of all kinds, misdemeanors not exempted under this law provided that the personal right is dropped. Crimes of using or facilitating the use of drugs, facilitating their obtaining or promoting them without compensation and without any profit intention, as well as the crime of planting prohibited plants.
Additionally, all environmental crimes that are hazardous to life, such as polluting rivers and the air, and those harmful to nature, like the use of quarries and crushers and the blowing up of mountains, are all pardoned by this amnesty draft they are trying to implement.
Individuals who commit such crimes are usually covered by corrupt politicians, who would, therefore, be considered partakers in these violations.
Tax evasion, crimes of the Audit Bureau, and crimes of the negligence of state officials to their responsibilities are also pardoned by this amnesty. This means that, if the amnesty is realized, many corrupt officials will get away with all the thefts and violations that they had been accused of.
Thus the efforts of the revolutionaries and the revolution itself, which is all about reformation, would be ultimately fruitless; the black history of the corrupt would be erased as simple as that and as if it never happened.
For the people of the revolution, this is not about revenge but about accountability, hence impeding the reiteration of such “protected crimes” which will occur if the criminals and their protectors are pardoned.
The amnesty also includes the crimes of forced concealment and torture, as well as military offenses, which include abusing and assaulting protesters. In addition to the aforementioned, this amnesty would damage, and possibly collapse, the jurisdictional system, because it would encourage crime in the future due to the reliance on a possible future amnesty by criminals.
Moreover, many people awaiting justice to give what they deserve from those who have wronged them would, themselves, be wronged by this pardon.
On the other hand, the pardon does not include:
Those involved in the deliberate killing, abduction, or harm of civilians or military personnel.
Those who have used, manufactured, acquired, possessed or transported explosive or inflamed materials.
Those who have recruited, equipped, and/or trained persons to carry out terrorist acts.
Crimes of money laundering and financing of terrorism.
Crimes related to antiquities, crimes of trespassing on public property or property belonging to the state or municipalities.
Crimes related to the 1955 Israel Boycott Law.
The optimal way to ensure justice for everyone in Lebanon is to ensure the presence of a clean, independent, and powerful jurisdictional system; a system free from corruption and nepotism that abides by international and constitutional laws and fulfills its duties towards society as a whole.