Posted by: Joelle El Bittar | April 30, 2012

Ambassadors, judges, lawyers and representatives of civil society discuss the shortcomings of the judicial system

As part of its activities revolving around the promotion of the dialogue of cultures and workshops aimed at solving social problems and raising humanitarian and cultural issues, the Youth and Culture Center – Zouk Mikael, in collaboration with the Embassy of Mexico in Lebanon, organized a movie club around the dramatic and realistic movie entitled “Presunto Culpable” (presumed guilty).

Attendance grouped His Excellency Mr. Jorge Alvarez, Mexican Ambassador to Lebanon with his wife, Her Excellency Ms. Zoed Karam, Ambassador of Venezuela, Me Nouhad Naufal, Mayor of Zouk Mikael, a panel of judges headed by the President Ghaleb Ghanem and the judges Jean Fahd, Elias Eid, Muhammad Murtada, Roukoz Rizk, and former barristers Ramzi Jreije and Haddad Amal. Were also present lawyer Denise Karam Abu Maachar, municipal council member of Jounieh, Dr. Jackie Maalouf president of DiaLeb, Marie-Chantale Sundberg, head of economic affairs at Lebanon Development Union (LDU), Davide Bernocci, country director of Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Ramzi Hage, president of MEPI-LAA, lawyer Brigitte Chelebian, director of Justice Without Frontiers, Melkar el Khoury Awad, member of the Foundation for Human and Humanitarian Rights as well as members of the City Council of Zouk Mikael and a large crowd of spectators.

After the welcome words, YCC director Eliane Fersan, thanked Ambassador Alvarez and congratulated him for “his courage to share with the Lebanese public the reality of flaws that plague the judicial system in Mexico by highlighting the role of civil society that works to move the judiciary and to enforce the rule of law”, while stressing on the importance of “self-critical governments, which allow them to improve and learn from mistakes that become exemplary lessons”.

Then, Ambassador Alvarez explained the events of the film relevant to the judicial system in Mexico; its positive and negative elements are portrayed through a true story featuring the relationship between the judiciary and the police, the mechanisms of accountability, transparency measures and the situation in prisons. Mr. Alvarez pointed out that “the situation of prisons and the judicial system in Mexico are largely similar to those of Lebanon, except that the available monitoring tools and the role of civil society and the media contribute to breaking down barriers and protect the rights of individuals.” The realistic movie ends on a happy note: Toño Zuniga is acquitted and the trial procedures are modified since his case/trial.

Finally, Melkar el Khoury Awad of the Foundation for Human and Humanitarian Rights presented the case of Toño Zuniga, and the clear violations ranging from the arrest, duration and course of his trial, claiming that “justice is the result of a delicate balance between the infinite potential of the state and individual limited capacities. For in counterpart of the penal code, which expresses the state authority, the development of the legislative procedure has been established as a guarantee of the individual against the state.”


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