An investigation by the International Human Rights Watch into the Beirut port explosion concluded that Lebanese officials knew and tacitly accepted the dangers posed by ammonium nitrate, which was stored in the port, and therefore they could be criminally charged with the possible intent to murder.

The investigation indicated that the responsibilities start with the presidents of the republic and ministers, current and former ministers and security leaders, adding that junior officials were arrested, while seniors who knew the dangers and did not act were not prosecuted.

On August 4, 2020, the explosion occurred in Ward 12 in the port, killing more than 200 people and wounding about 6,000 others, as well as causing massive material damage to residential buildings and commercial establishments.

Human Rights Rights called on the United Nations Human Rights Council to authorize an investigation into the case, adding that countries implementing the Magnitsky Act should punish those responsible for the massive human rights abuses caused by the port explosion.

The investigation carried out by the organization concluded that the management of the port was designed in a way that allows the Lebanese political forces to control their decisions, which allowed corruption and mismanagement to spread.

700 pages

The investigation of the international organization is located in more than 700 pages, and includes results and documents, and concluded that there is evidence that a number of Lebanese officials committed the crime of criminal negligence under Lebanese law.

The organization's report was based on official documents and interviews with senior officials, including the country's president, the head of the caretaker government, and the director of public security.

The investigation followed events dating back to 2014 and beyond, following the shipment to the port of Beirut. It also monitored successive warnings about the seriousness of this shipment to several official bodies.

"The evidence strongly indicates that some government officials anticipated the death that would result from the presence of ammonium nitrate in the port, and tacitly accepted the possibility of fatalities," the report said.

The organization called on the United Nations Human Rights Council to conduct an investigation into the blast, and urged foreign governments to impose sanctions on officials related to human rights and corruption.

The organization did not answer questions related to how the explosion broke out, but it doubted whether the ammonium nitrate shipment was destined for Mozambique, as the ship's shipping documents show, or whether Beirut was its actual destination.

Hanging gallows in Beirut in a symbolic call to hold accountable those responsible for the Beirut port explosion (communication sites)

The Human Rights report said that President Michel Aoun, caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab, Director General of State Security Major General Tony Saliba, and former ministers (from whom the Lebanese judge requested statements) failed to take measures to protect people despite being informed of the dangers.

Reuters sought to obtain a comment on the results of the organization's investigation from President Aoun, Hassan Diab and Tony Saliba. The presidential palace has not commented, nor has there been any comment yet from Diab and Saliba.

Aoun said last Friday that he was ready to testify, and that "no one is above justice, no matter how high they are."

According to a document seen by Reuters and sent about two weeks before the explosion, the president and prime minister warned of the security risks posed by the chemicals stored in the port, and that they could destroy the capital.

broken investigation

For his part, Lebanese caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab said on Monday that achieving justice for the Beirut port explosion, which occurred during his tenure as prime minister, "begins with revealing the truth, holding those responsible for the disaster accountable, and protecting the blood of the martyrs."

In a statement commemorating the Beirut port explosion, Diab considered that the August 4 explosion "exposed the country's faults," and pointed out that the Lebanese could not feel safe if the full facts of that disaster were not revealed.

More than 200 people were killed in the Beirut port explosion last year (Reuters)

In turn, former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri said that justice in the Beirut port explosion has two bases, either an international investigation committee takes over the file, or the suspension of all immunities stipulated in the constitution to complete the investigation of the case.

The Future Movement bloc in Parliament had submitted a proposal to Parliament to lift the immunities of the President of the Republic and all political and security officials, allowing the judicial investigator to complete the investigation into the port explosion.

And at the beginning of last July, the judicial investigator, Tariq Al-Bitar, asked to lift the immunity of 3 deputies (former ministers) to investigate them in the case, but Parliament asked him for more clarifications and documents before lifting their immunity.

The judge also requested permission to investigate the Director of Public Security, Major General Abbas Ibrahim, and the Director General of State Security, Major General Tony Saliba, as well as 4 former army officers, including former army chief Jean Kahwagi.

Interior Minister Mohamed Fahmy refused the request to investigate Ibrahim, while a meeting of the Supreme National Defense Council is expected to decide on permission to prosecute Saliba, while the army leadership did not express any refusal to investigate the former officers.

The families of the blast victims organize vigils from time to time, to demand the completion of investigations, revealing the truth of the explosion, and holding those involved accountable.