Lebanon urges UN to find alternative funding for Hariri tribunal

The tribunal tasked with prosecuting those behind the 2005 killing of ex-Lebanese PM may close over funding shortage.

Diab says Lebanon's financial difficulties should not hinder the completion of the tribunal's work [File: Dalati Nohra/Handout via Reuters]

Lebanon has asked the UN secretary-general in a letter to urgently explore ways of financing the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL), tasked with investigating the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, in light of funding difficulties.

“The Government of Lebanon would be grateful to Your Excellency for urgently exploring different and alternative means of financing the Tribunal with the Security Council and Member States,” Hassan Diab, the country’s caretaker prime minister, said in the letter on Friday.

An exclusive report by Reuters news agency last week revealed that the UN tribunal, created by a 2007 UN Security Council resolution, had run out of funding amid Lebanon’s economic and political crisis, threatening plans for future trials.

The tribunal, which is 51 percent funded by voluntary contributions and 49 percent by the Lebanese government, could close after July if the funding shortage is not resolved.

Last year the tribunal, based in the Hague, convicted Salim Jamil Ayyash, a former member of the Shia movement, Hezbollah, in absentia for the bombing that killed veteran Sunni Muslim politician Hariri and 21 others. That ruling is being appealed.

A second case was meant to begin on June 16, prosecuting Ayyash for another assassination and other attacks on Lebanese politicians between 2004 and 2005.

But on Thursday, judges at the tribunal scrapped the new trial because of the expectations of a shutdown.

Lebanon is in the throes of a deep financial crisis that is threatening its stability.

The crisis, which erupted in late 2019, has wiped out jobs, put more than half of the population under the poverty line and eroded about 90 percent of the value of the currency.

Rafik Hariri’s son, Saad Hariri, is now Lebanon’s prime minister-designate, but he has been unable to agree on a cabinet with President Michel Aoun, leaving the country in a state of political paralysis since last year.

“While we reaffirm our unwavering commitment to the STL, we firmly believe that these financial difficulties should not hinder the completion of its work to the end,” Diab said.

Source: News Agencies