Beirut Blast — Lebanon Extends State of Emergency

  • Hassan Diab's government resigned on Monday under pressure from the public.
  • It is not clear regarding the time frame for the state of emergency.
  • The declaration of a state of emergency raises the fear of human rights organizations and activists, given the restrictions.

In the first session after the explosion of the port city of Beirut, the Lebanese parliament approved the declaration of a state of emergency on Thursday. It is a move that raises the fear of human rights organizations due to the restrictions it contains on freedom of assembly.

Parliament also approved the resignations of seven MPs who resigned after the explosion. The session was held amid tight security measures in the vicinity of the UNESCO Palace, where Parliament has been holding its sessions since the outbreak of the new Coronavirus, with the presence of a shy number of demonstrators.

Parliament also agreed during its session to accept the resignations of seven deputies who had announced their resignations after the explosion.

Hassān Dyāb is a Lebanese politician, engineer and academic who formally served as the Prime Minister of Lebanon from January 2020, after the formation of a cabinet, until August 2020, when he resigned in the wake of the Beirut explosion.

Under pressure from the street, Hassan Diab’s government resigned on Monday, while demonstrators on the street demand the departure of the combined political class and all officials accused of corruption and incompetence.

Karim Nammour, a member of legal NGO Legal Agenda, told Al Jazeera:

“This general mobilization already allows cabinet the powers to mobilize the armed forces and to control stores and matters of a strategic nature, including controlling the prices of things like glass and wood, as well as to raise the rubble and provide relief to people.”

“The only real reason we can see for a state emergency is to grant security forces powers to control the streets as much as possible – to give legal coverage to things that would otherwise be impossible,” he said.

The day after the explosion, the government declared a state of emergency in Beirut, for a period of up to two weeks, without being approved in Parliament, as the law authorizes to declare an emergency for a period of only eight days. It must obtain Parliament’s approval if this period is exceeded.

The Parliament of Lebanon is the national parliament of Lebanon. There are 128 members elected to a four-year term in multi-member constituencies, apportioned among Lebanon’s diverse Christian and Muslim denominations.

It is not clear whether Parliament’s ratification of the decree declaring the state of emergency means that it will run out from today, or whether the previous days since the fifth of August will be counted within it.
 
Fears of Restricting Freedom of Assembly

The declaration of a state of emergency raises the fear of human rights organizations and activists, given the restrictions, it includes, in particular on freedom of assembly.

In a statement to Agence France-Presse, Aya Majzoub, a researcher at Human Rights Watch, expressed the organization’s fear of “using the state of emergency as a pretext to suppress protests and eliminate the legitimate demands of a wide range of Lebanese.”

The Legal Agenda, a non-governmental organization concerned with studying and evaluating laws, said in a statement on Wednesday that “declaring the emergency due to the disaster, even partially in Beirut, practically leads to handing over the reins of power in the city to the army and violating the freedoms of assembly and demonstration.”

And lead to the state of emergency, according to the organization, “to expand the jurisdiction of the military court to try civilians for all crimes against security.” Through it, the army can “prevent meetings that disturb security” in addition to “imposing house arrest on those who carry out activities that constitute a threat to security.” It also entitles the military to “enter homes at any time.”

At the same time, foreign officials’ visits to Lebanon are frequent. French Minister of the Armed Forces, Florence Parly, will arrive in Beirut Thursday for a two-day visit. US Assistant Secretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale will also arrive on Thursday. Aircraft loaded with aid arrive from several countries, respectively.

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Joyce Davis

My history goes back to 2002 and I  worked as a reporter, interviewer, news editor, copy editor, managing editor, newsletter founder, almanac profiler, and news radio broadcaster.

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