In a memorandum published today, the ICJ called on the Lebanese authorities to introduce comprehensive legal and institutional reforms with a view to ensuring that the Office of the Public Prosecutor (OPP) is strictly separated from the judiciary and judicial functions.
The reforms must also guarantee that the OPP’s independence and impartiality is fully safeguarded consistent with internationals standards, the ICJ says.
“The structure of the OPP, its role, status and functions are not in compliance with international standards on the independent and impartial functioning of prosecutors,” said Said Benarbia, ICJ MENA Director.
“The Lebanese authorities must ensure that the functions of judges and prosecutors are clearly separated and distinct and that prosecutors are not granted any powers to take decisions of a judicial character, including those relating to renewing police custody and ensuring oversight over police custody’s facilities, periods and conditions,” he added.
In the memorandum, the ICJ also formulates recommendations for amendment and reform of law and practice with a view to ensuring the administration of criminal justice in a manner that respects and protects human rights, due process and the rule of law.
The Code of Criminal Procedure and Decree-Law No. 150/83 on the Organization of the Judiciary do not provide for appropriate safeguards and limitations on internal and external instructions to prosecutors, do not adequately limit the power of the Minister of Justice in relation to the conduct of prosecutions, and, therefore, do not safeguard the real and perceived independence of the prosecution services.
If public faith and confidence in the integrity of the justice system is to be restored, the functional independence of prosecutors must be safeguarded from any undue or improper interference, including those emanating from within the OPP itself.
“The Lebanese authorities must ensure that the executive is prohibited from issuing instructions not to prosecute or requiring prosecution in a specific case,” said Benarbia.
“Any instructions to individual prosecutors regarding the conduct of a prosecution must be in writing, exercised transparently, and take into account established prosecution guidelines and the interests of victims and other interested parties,” he added.
Rola Assi, Associate Legal Adviser, t: 0096170821670 ; e: rola.assi(a)icj.org
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