Monday, October 29, 2012

Appeals Chamber rules on legality

Leidschendam, 24 October 2012 – The Appeals Chamber of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon has unanimously dismissed Defence challenges to the Tribunal's legality.

Defence counsel had challenged, before the Trial Chamber, the legality of the Tribunal arguing that it violates Lebanese sovereignty, that the Tribunal has selective jurisdiction and no authority to try the Accused.

On 27 July, the Trial Chamber dismissed the Defence motions noting that the Tribunal was created by Security Council Resolution 1757 and the Trial Chamber did not have the authority to review this Resolution. It rejected all Defence challenges. The decision was appealed by counsel for three of the four Accused.

Four of the five Appeals Chamber judges agreed in their decision, issued today, that they lacked the authority to review a Security Council Resolution. However, in a separate opinion, Judge David Baragwanath expressed the view that the STL, as a court of law, must exercise a limited authority to review certain aspects of Security Council resolutions. He nonetheless concluded that the Defence Counsel have failed to establish that the Security Council acted beyond its authority and joined the other judges in dismissing the appeals.

Defence Counsel have argued in both Chambers that while the 14 February 2005 attack was tragic, it did not constitute a threat to international peace and security, which was the prerequisite for the Security Council's intervention to establish the STL.

The Appeals Chamber "considers that the Security Council has a broad discretion as to the characterization of a particular situation as a threat to peace and security and that the Tribunal cannot judicially review the Security Council's actions," the summary of the decision reads.

The judges of the Appeals Chamber also noted that once the Security Council identified the existence of a threat to peace and security under its Charter, it had discretion to determine which measures are required to maintain or restore international peace and security, in this case, the creation of a Tribunal.

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