Earlier in the week, Interior Minister Mohamad Fahmi made a bold statement. In a televised interview Fahmi claimed that, “95% of judges in Lebanon are corrupt”. His remarks sparked outrage. So much so, that the Higher Judicial council in Lebanon is looking to seek legal actions against him. That isn’t a surprise. What is a surprise is how can something as simple as a quote in a media appearance jolt the judiciary into action, yet the countless crimes committed by countless Ministers don’t spark any legal pursuit?
We as Lebanese have a soft spot towards our judiciary. We idolize it. We sanctify it. We in, all our naivety, view it as our protector. After the total cataclysmic collapse of our government, and then shortly after our Central Bank, and as a domino effect, every other state institution in the country, the two entities we have left to hang our hopes on and have faith in are the Lebanese army, and the Lebanese judiciary.
These two entities are all that remain as credible state entities, nothing else. We don’t have a powerful passport, a sovereign government, a thriving industry, or a national currency. In turn, we burden these two institutions with our hopes and our trust to keep us safe and protect us from wrongdoing and harm, and provide us with peace of mind and justice. Unfortunately, under the public lens, and on several occasions, the judiciary has failed to uphold its national and public given duty.
Several times the judiciary has failed to indict powerful public officials. Several times the judiciary has failed to provide a rightful verdict to a high profile criminal case. Several times the justice system has failed to provide justice.
So the problem is we don’t feel that the justice system protects the rights of Lebanese, or the law. We feel it protects a select few powerful individuals. Individuals who have played a large part in the make up of the justice system. This in turn establishes a corrupt relationship and a conflict of interest. Two conditions that are a big red flag in law and justice. We witness this conflict play out everyday, right in front of our eyes. There is no attempt to hide it -no,no. It is on full display. We see clearly how the toxic waste of politics seeps into Lebanon’s courts of law and contaminates them with their corruption.
And yes, Interior Minister Mohamad Fahmi said something outlandish and provided no proof whatsoever to his claims but so what? Who in Lebanon doesn’t agree with him? Fahmi said what every public official -former and present- knows but is scared to say -that there is a major problem in the justice system and with the judges.
Some try to play down how much the justice system is indeed corrupt. Their caveat is that there are a few honest judges. As if it is an added benefit to be honest while performing the duties of a judge, and not the bare minimum for performing such duties. Unfortunately for those “good” judges, they will be dragged down along with their corrupt co-parts. Because the justice system is like a car. One tire can be in perfect, mint condition, but if the rest of the automobile is a beaten and battered, the car won’t budge.
And yet, even after all the claims made against it, today the justice system in Lebanon has a chance to redeem itself. And that is through the verdict of the Beirut port explosion. I have heard early rumors that the final verdict will not be a popular one, and will not appease the public. However, the investigation is still ongoing. The judiciary still has a chance to do the right thing. If the final verdict succeeds in indicting the individuals responsible for what has been labeled as one of the most heinous crimes against humanity, then the Lebanese justice system would have proved its loyalty to the law and its honesty to the people. However, and at the risk of sounding like a typical Lebanese, the chances of that happening are doubtful.
Such is the common theme with Lebanon. There are some good people sprinkled into our state institutions. But among them are three times as many corrupt dishonest degenerates who know no moral compass and communicate only through crimes and commission. Or using Minister Fahmi’s metrics: 95% of us are corrupt and 5% are honest. But even the 5% ones are honest to a fault, teetering on defeatist. Convincing themselves that Lebanon’s sad reality is -in fact- its honest truth. That the way things are is just how Lebanon is, how Lebanon was, and how Lebanon always will be.