Representative of the Ministry of Justice Ahmad Al Ayoubi, representative of the High Relief Council of Tripoli Adib Eit, Khaldoun El Sharif, adviser to the former prime minister Najib Mikati, member of Tripoli’s municipal council Chamseen Mohammad, and judge and activist based in Tripoli Nabil Sari discussed the state’s response to violence and policy options. Nadim Houry, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East and North Africa division and director of the Beirut office, chaired the panel.
- Ministry of Justice: The Ministry of Justice has two main objectives: holding culprits equally accountable for their actions and guaranteeing that those accused are given their rights and a proper defense in court, said Al Ayoubi.
- Higher Relief Council: The Higher Relieve Council has been involved in Tripoli since the start of the clashes in 2008, said Eit. Compensation plans were put in place for the residents of Jabal Mohsen and Bab al-Tabbaneh, and families of those injured or killed in the clashes were compensated. After the end of the clashes, the objective of the council was to carry out investigations into the affected areas to obtain an estimate on total damages and to distribute food and medical aid to those most affected by the clashes, said Eit.
- Judiciary: Sari explained that judiciary’s role is to go after those actors directly responsible for the clashes, as well as those who initially provoked the violence. There will not be peace until the judiciary system in Lebanon becomes independent from the political one, added Sari.
- Recommendations for Infrastructure Development: Restoration and development plans are urgently needed to fight poverty in the city, said Eit. Setting up a crisis unit for the city of Tripoli in cooperation with the Lebanese government is also a priority. Mohammad added that a well-structured plan is needed in Tripoli–merely rebuilding after each round of violence is not enough. He added that the first step is to stop using Tripoli as a battleground for political forces. A strategy to develop the city cannot be put forward by Tripolitan politicians alone; support is needed from the central government, asserted El Sharif.
- Recommendations for Economic Development: El Sharif said that Sunnis in Lebanon are not marginalized because of a lack of leadership, but rather from a lack of initiative. The conflict is not to blame on single individuals–funding is coming from larger organizations and regional powers, said El Sharif. Creating jobs is the biggest priority for prompting the economic and social development of Tripoli, he said, explaining that Tripoli’s harbor could play an important role in the city’s development. Mohammaded concluded that banks should not blacklist residents of Jabal Mohsen and Bab al-Tabbaneh areas and added that employment opportunities are needed for those taking part or affected by the clashes.