Sunday, February 21, 2016

Military justice and politics in Lebanon

Lebanon's Minister of Justice Ashraf Rifi resigned today, in part over the decision of the Military Court of Cassation to release former Information Minister Michel Samaha on bail. The Samaha case had sparked discussion of abolition or reform of the military court, but so far that has proven to be just talk. Details here. Excerpt:
The release on bail of ex-information minister Michel Samaha last month after serving eight months of a 4 1/2 year jail sentence for smuggling explosives from neighboring Syria and planning attacks drew anger and condemnation from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's opponents in Lebanon.
Lebanese military courts exercise jurisdiction over civilians, contrary to human rights norms. Plainly, larger forces than the need to reform military justice are at work in M. Rifi's resignation, but it is rare that anything having to do with the subject leads to political changes such as today's. Watch this space.

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