The Lebanese parliament has people in uproar as they have not passed the draft law to grant general amnesty. There is a general lack of consensus on who should and should not be included in the amnesty. Public outrage shows that they are not in favour of the draft to be passed as the law will only legitimize the dubious doings of the elite in power, something the Lebanese population has been fighting against since 2019.
In the recent amendment proposed for passing at the session, Bassil led Free Patriotic Movement has advocated for the exclusion of perpetrators of crimes against public funds and terrorist crimes, the parliament has remained undecided over a final amended version of the draft law.
Indeed, the proposed amendment makes it easier for money launderers and war crime perpetrators to go scot free.
The Free Patriotic Movement, also known as the Aounist party, is a Lebanese political party, led by Gebran Bassil. The FPM party promotes the rights of Lebanese expatriates and a relatively high minimum wage. The party’s support base is overwhelmingly from Lebanon’s Christian community
There is no general consensus on whether the law should be passed at all or not. Currently, the draft law includes an amnesty for about 1,200 Sunni convicts, 700 of whom are Lebanese. Some are accused of killing soldiers in the Lebanese Army, possessing, transporting or using explosives, kidnap and participating in bombings. There are definite demarcations over religious affiliations and one cannot say that the Parliament and the allied parties will be able to take a balanced stance.
The Hezbollah that is considered to be a terrorist faction and sanctioned by various countries worldwide is closely associated with the Free Patriotic Movement Party. It has strong reservations against those Lebanese who might have worked or communicated with the enemy or acquired Israeli citizenship. There is urgency over the law to be passed as dangers of overcrowded Lebanese prisons are only growing by the day. The Lebanese prisons are said to have had great contraction numbers of Covid-19 disease.
According to the Lebanese Order of Physicians (LOP), “There are 20 prisons for men, four for women and one juvenile prison holding a total of 8,300 inmates, 57 percent of whom are in the Roumieh Central Prison.” It added that 57 percent of prisoners are Lebanese and 23 percent are Syrian, one third have been convicted while the rest are awaiting trial, and the overcrowding is so bad each prisoner has the equivalent of only one square meter of space. The organization described the situation as “a time bomb that must be avoided.”
The draft law also represents about 6,000 Lebanese Christians, most of who fled to Israel following the withdrawal of occupying Israeli soldiers from southern Lebanon in 2000, as well as nearly 30,000 people from the Bekaa region, the majority of whom are from the Shiite community and wanted for drug trafficking, drug abuse, murder, kidnap, robbery and other crimes.
Previous attempts to ensure the draft bill could be passed have also failed.
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