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Calls for Accountability and Reform in Lebanon

Anti-Hezbollah protesters hold pictures of Lokman Slim, a longtime Shiite political activist and researcher, who has been found dead in his car, during a protest in front of the Justice Palace in Beirut, Lebanon, Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021.

The United States supports the Lebanese people in their continued calls for accountability and reform in Lebanon.

Calls for Accountability and Reform in Lebanon
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The United States supports the Lebanese people in their continued calls for accountability and reform in Lebanon.

On February 4, Lokman Slim, an activist who courageously advocated for freedom of expression and civic participation, was found dead in his car in southern Lebanon. He had been shot five times.

The United States condemns the brutal murder of Lokman Slim.

A publisher and a documentary filmmaker, Mr. Slim was a Shiite who spoke out against the violent tactics of Iranian-supported Hezbollah in Lebanon.

U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Dorothy Shea noted the dangers he faced: “Lokman Slim publicly and privately acknowledged that there were threats being made against his life, and yet he bravely continued to push for justice, accountability; and the rule of law in Lebanon.”

Secretary of State Antony Blinken referred to Mr. Slim’s killing as “a heinous assassination.” In a statement, he said, “It is cowardly and unacceptable to resort to violence, threats, and intimidation as a means of subverting the rule of law or suppressing freedom of expression and civic activism. We urge Lebanese officials, including the Judiciary and political leaders, to hold accountable those who commit such barbaric acts without delay or exception.”

Lokman Slim’s body was discovered six months to the day after the horrific August 4, 2020 explosion in Beirut that killed hundreds and wounded thousands of people. The domestic investigation into the explosion resumed this month. It is important the Lebanese judiciary demonstrate that it can act to ensure respect for the rule of law.

In a joint statement, Secretary of State Blinken and French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, reiterated their countries’ “full unambiguous support to the Lebanese people,” including by extending urgent health, education, housing and other assistance.

The two officials added, however, “France and the United States also expect rapid results on the inquiry into the causes of the explosion.”

“The six-month anniversary of this tragic event underscores the urgent and vital need for Lebanese stakeholders to finally act upon the commitments they have made to form a credible and effective government and to pave the way for the implementation of necessary reforms, in accordance with the aspirations of the Lebanese people,” wrote Secretary Blinken and Foreign Minister Le Drian. “Such concrete actions remain crucial for the engagement of France, the United States, and their regional and international partners to provide additional, longer-term structural support to Lebanon.”