GENEVA (2 February 2023) – UN human rights experts* today reiterated their call for effective investigations into the killing of Lebanese intellectual Lokman Slim, expressing their deep concern at the lack of progress by the authorities to ensure accountability two years after his assassination.
“It is incumbent on the Lebanese authorities to fully investigate and bring to justice the perpetrators of this heinous crime. Failing to carry out a prompt and effective investigation, may in itself constitute a violation of the right to life,” the experts said.
“Shedding light on the circumstances surrounding the death of Mr. Lokman Slim and bringing those responsible to justice is also part of the State’s obligation to protect freedom of opinion and expression,” they said. “A culture of impunity not only emboldens the killers of Mr. Slim, it will also have a chilling effect on civil society as it sends a chilling message to other activists to self-censor,” they stressed.
Slim, a well-known intellectual, human rights defender, writer, publisher, filmmaker and vocal critic of Hezbollah, was found shot dead in his car on 4 February 2021, in Southern Lebanon, an area reportedly de facto controlled by Hezbollah. He was shot six times, including three times in the head. Prior to his death, he and his family had been subject to intimidation, harassment and threats.
“Two years following the killing of Mr. Slim, no one responsible for his assassination has been identified and there is little prospect that current investigations will be successfully completed within a reasonable timeframe,” the experts said.
They reiterated that investigations into unlawful killings must be independent, impartial, prompt, thorough, effective, credible and transparent, warning that any further delay may seriously comprise the current investigation and the search for truth and justice.
“Thus far, national authorities have shown no indication that the ongoing investigations are in line with relevant international standards,” the UN experts said.
“We therefore urge the Lebanese authorities to give much needed new impetus to the pending investigation to ensure that those responsible are held accountable without delay,” the experts said. “Mr. Slim’s family must have access to justice, truth and adequate reparation expeditiously.”
The UN experts recalled that the Minnesota Protocol on the Investigation of Unlawful Death was universally considered the gold standard for the investigation of cases of unlawful deaths. “We stand ready to support the relevant authorities in their efforts to ensure its full implementation in Mr Slim’s case and also call on the international community to provide support and assistance as appropriate,” they said.
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*The experts: Mr. Morris Tidball-Binz, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; Ms. Margaret Satterthwaite, Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers; Ms. Irene Khan, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression; and Ms. Mary Lawlor, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders.