RSF seeks international probe into Lebanese journalist’s murder two years ago
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls for an impartial international investigation into Lebanese journalist and writer Lokman Slim’s murder two years ago, because the official investigation has drawn a complete blank.
There is still no sign of any lead or suspect in the police investigation into Lokman Slim’s murder on 4 February 2021. The investigation has come to a complete halt although there are many reasons to suspect Hezbollah members who had threatened him because of his criticism of Hezbollah. This impunity is far from being an exception. In fact, it recurs whenever a journalist is murdered in Lebanon.
“If those responsible for Lokman Slim’s murder are not brought to justice, other journalists will be exposed to the same fate,” said Jonathan Dagher, the head of RSF’s Middle East desk. “As the Lebanese judicial system is paralysed by political meddling, we call for an impartial international investigation to deliver justice for Lokman Slim and to end the climate of impunity that threatens press freedom in Lebanon.”
The initial police investigation ended in 2021 without any suspect being named. According to his family, the police ignored the threats by Hezbollah members and instead showed more interest in the possibility of personal motives. In October 2022, the case was passed to a judge with the Beirut court, Charbel Abou Samra, who is pursuing it and is due to hold several hearings, the next on 7 February.
But Slim’s widow, former journalist Monika Borgmann, told RSF she was pessimistic about the possibility of any progress by the justice system. She said: “Even if the judge is determined and gives us signs that he is ready to push ahead with this case, will he be able to work? I doubt it.”
The lawyer in charge of the case, Moussa Khoury, told RSF that the judge is doing what he can despite a complex political backdrop and a judicial system that is collapsing. “Throughout his life, Lokman called for an end to impunity, an end to this system in which crimes have no consequences,” he said. “We are going to honour that. There is a first time for everything, and we are going to bring the perpetrators of this murder to justice.”
On 28 January 2022, a few days before the first anniversary of Slim’s murder, RSF referred the decline in the security of media personnel in Lebanon to the United Nations and asked it to press the Lebanese authorities to take all necessary measure to protect journalists and guarantee their safety.
To mark the second anniversary of his death, the family is organising a three-day event at Villa Slim in the south Beirut suburb of Haret Hreik, ending on 5 February. Entitled “Justice even if the sky crumbles,” the event aims to “celebrate Lokman’s life, vision and courage and highlight the urgent need to end impunity.”