International Justice

CJ354 Endicott College

The Culture of Impunity in Lebanon

A recent article by the International Center for Transitional Justice highlights the predicament of impunity. According to the article, and a coinciding report, Lebanon has made only partial and ineffective attempts at holding powerful individuals, groups, and states accountable for serious violations that were committed in Lebanon.

The report concludes that Lebanon has fallen short in guaranteeing victim’s rights, and that serious traumas suffered by victims have not been fully addressed. The report highlights Lebanon’s amnesty laws as being one of the biggest hurdles towards holding individuals accountable. The report notes that the amnesty laws have contributed to a “state-sponsored amnesia about the war”.

The report brings forth several of the underlying tensions that exist between amnesty and accountability. Amnesty, usually sponsored in order to avoid an escalation in violence, often results in impunity for the gravest perpetrators. The Lebanese case suggests that while amnesty might be useful in the short-run, by avoiding conflict between warring parties, in the long-run it might create a culture of impunity at the expense of the victims.

However, the political realities in Lebanon do make any form of accountability difficult, even in the form of a truth commissions. The tensions that inform the conflict in Lebanon, which cross across sectarian, religious, and national identities, are extremely complex. The multitude of groups in the conflict, as well as their dual role as vigilante protectors, makes accountability extremely difficult.

 

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