Govt. Delays Tackling Telecom Data, Tasks Panel to Study Creation of Commission on Forcibly Disappeared Persons

إقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية W460

The cabinet on Wednesday postponed the discussion of a report prepared by a Lebanese delegation that visited France to learn about the mechanism used there to intercept phone calls, while tasking a panel with studying the creation of an independent national commission for the forcibly disappeared persons.

The panel is headed by Justice Minister Shakib Qortbawi and comprises State Minister Ali Qansou, Social Affairs Minister Wael Abou Faour and Labor Minister Salim Jreissati, Information Minister Walid al-Daouq told reporters after the cabinet session.

The cabinet also agreed to cover the fees of Lebanese and non-Lebanese students registered at state-run elementary and secondary schools for the academic year 2012-2013 “according to the mechanism adopted by the Education Ministry,” Daouq added.

Separately, the minister said the cabinet did not set a date for discussing the new wage scale.

According to An Nahar newspaper, the cabinet is not expected to address the appointment of top civil servants until President Michel Suleiman, who is heading the Arab delegation to the South American-Arab countries summit in Peru, returns back to Lebanon.

The lingering dispute over the appointment of head of the Higher Judicial Council between Suleiman and Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun has delayed the appointments of top civil servants as the two officials are holding on to their candidates to the post.

In August, a Lebanese delegation that visited France to view the modern mechanisms in intercepting phone calls came back with results contradictory to what the government decided regarding allowing the security agencies to benefit from the telecom data.

The issue of the Lebanese missing persons resurfaced after Yaacoub Chamoun was released in July from prison in Syria.

Chamoun, 49, was detained for 27 years. He was seized during the Lebanese Civil War in the eastern city of Zahle, and later moved to several Syrian prisons during his incarceration, including the notorious Mezze, Saydnaya and Tadmor prisons.

Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime has long denied holding any prisoners of conscience, but on four different occasions between 1976 and 2000 has released Lebanese who had been held in Syrian prisons.

The civil war has claimed the lives of at least 150,000 people. For over 21 years, more than 600 families -- Lebanese and Palestinian -- have demanded authorities reveal the fate of the thousands believed to have disappeared at the hands of Syrian troops who entered Lebanon shortly after the outbreak of the war.

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