Thursday, April 5, 2007

Solida clarifies position on Hariri case

Solida, the organization that stands up for arbitrarily detained prisoners, has issued a clarification of its recent position, vis-à-vis the 8 detainees in the Hariri case. The mere fact that Solida associated themselves with these 8 people, resulted in many angry reactions, both in Lebanon and among the Lebanese abroad. Many, including myself, mistakenly took Solida’s position to be in favor of releasing the prisoners. This, however, was not its intention, hence the clarification.

After the press release, I’ve communicated with the president of Solida, Marie Daunay and she provided some additional information. The main concern of Solida is respecting all applicable laws and treaties. She confirmed, and this was also mentioned in the latest press release, that Solida has no problem with suspects being arrested…as long as they are informed of the charges against them and as long as the rule of law is applied.

Well, this sounds fair enough, we don’t want to have another Guantanamo Bay situation here in Lebanon. However, according to Solida, the basic rights of the prisoners were violated: the Lebanese state has so far not brought charges against them and some of the detainees are held in solitary confinement. Interesting enough, various UN treaties specifically forbid isolation; and Lebanon has signed those treaties and is bound by them.

This brings us to, perhaps, the strongest argument of Solida, namely that the prisoners could be released due to these violations of UN treaties. It’s easy to imagine lawyers arguing that the state of Lebanon has been in violation of UN rules while holding suspect to be tried in a UN court!

This could even lead to dropping the prosecution of the 8 detainees due to these infringements on UN treaties…something nobody would like. There are precedents of this happening before. According to Solida president Marie Daunay, suspects were let go because of these and similar technicalities in the UN tribunal of Sierra Leone and we all know comparable examples in regular courts.

Entering paranoid mode
What if high up in the Lebanese picking order, some apparatchiks are violating Lebanese laws and UN treaties on purpose, in order to help weaken the case against the 8 prisoners?
Remember, most of them were appointed under Syrian influence and some might have hung on to their warm feelings for Syria. Yup, it’s a stretch for sure, but can anyone comfortably say that they would be surprised if it turned out to be true? Right…