Parliament Fails to OK Amnesty Law, Berri Warns over Virus in Prisons
Parliament on Wednesday failed to approve a controversial general amnesty law after several blocs boycotted an evening session and stripped it of quorum.
Speaker Nabih Berri, who postponed the session and the debate of the law to October 20, voiced regret over the disagreements.
“My proposal was to decrease prisons’ population after the spread of coronavirus and any law should have been passed, not necessarily the one that was proposed,” Berri said.
“The next session will be held on October 20 and it will witness the election of members for the Higher Council for the Trial of Presidents and Ministers to replace the resigned MPs, after which I will open a legislative session to pass the general amnesty law should the panel reach an agreement,” the Speaker added.
“The pandemic’s situation is aggravating and we no longer have enough beds, so what shall we tell those infected inside prisons?” he warned.
Noting that amendments can be introduced to the draft law, Berri stressed that the current draft is “neither a Quran nor a bible” and that an alternative bill can be reached.
MP Ali Hassan Khalil of Berri’s bloc meanwhile said that the draft law “excludes crimes committed against the army and domestic and foreign terrorism.”
“We were ready to discuss in a positive manner and no law is ideal, but it must take into consideration the issues we are facing on the ground, especially the issue of coronavirus,” Khalil added.
He also lamented that “we are before a legal scandal related to hundreds of detainees whose trials get delayed for non-objective reasons.”
A parliamentary panel formed on Wednesday had failed to reach an agreement prior to the adjournment of the session.
Three major blocs -- Strong Lebanon, Strong Republic and al-Mustaqbal -- boycotted the evening session.