The Special Tribunal for Lebanon was set up to investigate the explosion that occurred on 14 February 2005, which killed former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. The same month of the explosion the United Nations secretary-general sent a team to investigate the causes of the explosion. The investigation report recommended setting up an independent international investigation. Two years after the attack, the United Nations and the Lebanese government signed an agreement to form the STL. The STL is a unique international organization in that it is not a UN court, but is its own judicial organization.
Currently, there are four accused being tried in absentia for the attack that killed Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Those four being tried include Hussein Hassan Oneissi, Salim Jamil Ayyash, Assad Hassan Sabra, and Hassan Habib Merhi. The four are connected to a powerful militant group in Lebanon called Hezbollah. Prosecutors filed indictments against the four in 2011, and investigations against them have been ongoing.
Fun fact: The building used to be home to the Dutch General Intelligence and Security Service. And what is now the courtroom was once a basketball court.
The organization has four organs: Chambers, the Office of the Prosecutor, the Defense Office, and the Registry. I work for the Registry. The Registry is called the engine of the tribunal because it takes on many important roles. The Registry is not only responsible for court management but also administrative duties. Working for the Registry has been a great experience because, as an intern, I have come to appreciate what it means to ensure that court proceedings are run efficiently. Chambers is divided into three sections: the pre-trial chamber, trial chamber, and the appeals chamber. The judges that compose Chambers include Lebanese and international judges. You can learn more about the other two organs by visiting the following link: https://www.stl-tsl.org/en/about-the-stl/structure-of-the-stl/the-office-of-the-prosecutor.
While working for STL, I also had the opportunity to visit the International Criminal Court. My supervisor scheduled a time when another intern and I could visit the ICC. We got a tour of the ICC, learned about the history of the ICC, and had the opportunity to sit in on some court hearings. The STL has a good outreach program. During one of the workdays, I had the chance to meet some Lebanese law students who were visiting the STL to learn more about how the organization is set up. The students were given the opportunity to ask questions while the legal officers gave presentations about each organ of the organization.
I work with a great team. They are all very supportive and helpful. One of the many things I like about working for this organization is that I get to work with people who are multilingual. The section I work with include staff who speak Arabic, French, and English. When I am working on a task, I usually hear people speaking in different languages. Sometimes I work on projects that include some Arabic or French translations, and because I am not fluent in either of those two languages, it is helpful to ask one of my coworkers for some translation help. The court’s official languages are French, Arabic, and English, so meeting someone who is fluent in all or even two is not usually an issue.
So far, I have had an incredible time working here, and I have met experienced and talented people. I am going to make the most out of the time I have left remaining. Cheers, until next time!