09H58 - samedi 23 septembre 2023

Lebanon: legal victory for Omar Harfouch. Lebanese justice declares itself incompetent and cancels the arrest warrant following the urgent appeal from the United Nations


Following the support provided on September 21, 2023 by the UN Human Rights Committee to Mr. Omar Harfouch, Lebanese business leader, media man and activist, the judges of the Land of Cedar declared themselves incompetent to prosecute him and subsequently canceled the arrest warrant issued against him.

Indeed, the Lebanese judge Madam Saniya Al-Sabaa, rendered a decision on the same day stipulating that the judiciary did not have jurisdiction to continue the examination in the case submitted to her concerning Omar Harfouch, ruling that the The indictment issued by the first investigating judge Mr. Samaranda Nassar in northern Lebanon “violates the law and does not apply coercive and restrictive legal texts and rules”.

Better still, the Attorney General of North Lebanon, Mr. Ziad Al-Shaarani, immediately approved the request from Mr. Harfouch’s representatives, lawyers Jalal Aoun and Joseph Raphael, to request the recovery of the arrest warrant issued in absentia by the first investigating judge against their client.

The efforts of Mr. Omar Harfouch are bearing fruit. Since June, he had been engaged in an intense European tour which had already taken him from Paris to Rome, Berlin and Brussels to the European Parliament.

The presence of Omar Harfouch in Geneva on September 21, 2023 on the occasion of the 54th ordinary session of the United Nations Human Rights Council which was examining the case of Lebanon was therefore crucial.

Led by   the vice-president of the relevant UN session, Ms. Maira Mariela Macdonal Alvarez (representative of Bolivia at the UN), the state delegates not only expressed their deep concern about the emerging challenges in terms of human rights man in Lebanon but they were therefore particularly concerned about the alleged abusive use of military justice to silence activists or deprive freedom of expression of citizens committed to their freedoms.

The case of Omar Harfouch was raised in Geneva because he is unfortunately being prosecuted in an abusive and totally illegal manner under Lebanese law itself by the military justice of his country. Known for his advocacy against corruption, institutional reforms, women’s rights and environmental concerns, the businessman was recently accused of having relationships with supporters of Israel. Lebanese authorities have since issued an arrest warrant for him on unspecified charges.

UN delegates implored Lebanon to reassess its position, urging the state to strictly respect its international human rights commitments.

While waiting for the Lebanese government, more than ever under pressure from the international community, to respond to these allegations, the institutional, economic, humanitarian and geopolitical situation in Lebanon is all the more worrying as Parliament gives a new President of the Republic .

An important battle has therefore been won and, in Beirut, it is now expected that the legal procedures will accelerate to obtain the imminent publication of a final decision definitively dismissing all the accusations brought against Omar Harfouch, who only aspires to an ambition: to return freely to his country.


Michel Taube

Directeur de la publication

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