The Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) issued Tuesday the following:

“The Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) regrets to announce that it is facing an unprecedented financial crisis. Without immediate funding, the Tribunal will not be able to operate beyond July 2021, which will impact its ability to fulfill its current mandate and conclude the judicial proceedings in the two cases currently before the Tribunal, the Ayyash et al. case (STL-11-01) and the Ayyash case (STL-18-10).

In filings submitted to the STL Judges, Registrar David Tolbert provided notice on the Tribunal’s financial situation so that the STL President, Pre Trial Judge, Appeals Chamber and Trial Chamber II may take any steps they deem necessary in relation to the conduct of matters of which they are seized. In order to meet his obligations to administer and service the STL, he stated that he has no choice but to activate a process of separation of staff in all four organs of the Tribunal in accordance with the Staff Regulations and Rules, and to initiate draw down activities related to the protection of witnesses and securing the Tribunal’s records, evidence and sensitive material.

The STL Principals also formally notified the United Nations (UN) Secretary General Antonio Gutteres of the financial situation, which will result in the Tribunal’s inability to complete its work if no contributions are forthcoming prior to the end of July.

The STL heavily relies on voluntary contributions from donor countries for 51 % of its budget, while Lebanon is responsible for 49%. Given the challenging circumstances generated by the global COVID-19 pandemic and the concerning situation in Lebanon, the STL had already drastically reduced its budget by approximatively 37% for 2021 in comparison to previous years.

In March 2021, the UN granted a subvention of 15.5 million USD covering 75% of the Lebanese contribution towards the STL’s budget to support the continuation of the STL’s judicial work. While the STL is grateful for the UN’s significant support, other indicated contributions remain outstanding and the STL falls short of funds to carry out its judicial functions.

The STL is highly distressed by the impact of this situation on the victims of the attacks within its jurisdiction, who placed their hope and trust in international criminal justice. For Lebanon, the international community and victims of terror, the STL’s proceedings establish important facts, recognize the harm suffered by the victims and Lebanese society, and send a strong message globally that terrorism will not go unpunished.

‘Despite taking significant cuts of staff and across the board reductions, without additional funding, the Tribunal will be forced to close its doors in the coming months, leaving important cases unfinished to the detriment of victims, the fight against impunity and the rule of law’, stated Registrar David Tolbert.

The STL will continue its efforts to raise the funds required to carry on its important work and urgently calls upon the international community for its continued support.”

Source: National News Agency