Lebanon Postpones Talk of General Amnesty After May Polls, Says Parliamentary Speaker Berri

Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri said Monday he would postpone discussion of a proposed general amnesty for those incarcerated for or suspected of various crimes until after general elections in May.

In a televised interview, Berri vowed to “call for a plenary session of Parliament immediately after the 2018 elections,” in which he would raise the issue of the general amnesty.

The amnesty is widely expected to rescind tens of thousands of outstanding arrest warrants for alleged Islamists, as well as those accused of petty and drug-related crimes, and those suspected of collaborating with Israel during its occupation of southern Lebanon.

The decree is also expected to release scores of people currently imprisoned for these crimes.

Justice Minister Salim Jreissati said Monday that any process undertaken to pass and implement the amnesty would occur “after elections,” following a meeting with Berri at his residence.

Berri and Jreissati’s comments came one month after Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk announced that the first draft of the proposed amnesty had been completed, with a final version to come “very soon.”

Former Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi urged the government Monday to speed up the process, citing the “importance of reconciliation” after Islamist-related clashes in recent years in his hometown of Tripoli.

The northern city has in recent years seen deadly clashes between residents of two rival neighborhoods, in a spillover of violence from the Syrian civil war. Among the fighters were suspected Islamists, who would likely be included in a general amnesty deal.

“On behalf of the families of prisoners from all sects, regions and parties, we demand justice to redress all prisoners, and we advise everyone to expedite the amnesty,” Rifi told audience members at a campaign rally in Tripoli, the state-run National News Agency reported.

This article has been adapted from its original source.

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