What were the International Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) investigators imagining as they walked into Dr. Iman Charara's private obstetrics and gynecology clinic this week demanding personal information on her patients?
U.S. Department of State, 2201 C Street NW Washington, DC
Perhaps more interestingly, what was Jeffrey Feltman's "Special STL Unit' housed on the 6th floor of the U.S. Department of State, 2201 C Street NW Washington, DC thinking when their clearly exasperated boss, according to a Hill Rag source, recently shouted by phone to the STL investigators in the Hague: " Just hold your ["]. Stop chasing Dutch ["], and get your ["] over to Hezbollahistan for Christ's sake!"
Surely the STL delegation knew, or should have known, that given the predictable ethical, culture, social, legal, humanitarian, political, and security aspects involved, even the very idea itself, should have been thought through.
There remain several unanswered questions that only Mr. Bellemare's Office and Mr. Feltman's Special Unit are obliged to answer:
- What exactly were they looking for?
- Did they carry a valid Lebanese judicial subpoena clearly identifying the information they were seeking: If so were they based on common jurisprudential underpinnings of probable cause?
- Were valid search warrants served on each of the patients as well as Dr. Charara?
- Who in the Lebanese government gave permission for the visit that appeared to be an end run around local municipal authorities, not to mention Lebanese law?
- Which of the countries of the STL's investigators, lawyers and judges, including Bellemare's Canada, would allow such an invasion of privacy?
- If they were targeting husbands of Dr. Charara's patients what about relevant principles of spousal immunity?
- What was the rational of the Lebanese Order of Physicians if they affixed their imprimatur to the scheme and what is now left of medical privacy laws in Lebanon? Showing up and demanding the names and files of Dr. Charara patients without the permission of the women concerned is clearly outrageous and unacceptable in Lebanon and in most countries.
- On whose administrative or judicial orders did the relevant Lebanese government Ministries appear to allow a shotgun, over broad, fishing expedition approach not jurisprudentially acceptable in any of the countries comprising the STL, or for that matter by the provisions of UNSCR 1757, as well as local laws incorporated by reference? Of course the same questions apply to the reported throwing fishing nets over student, DNA, telecoms, social security, and other records in Lebanon to gather information for the STL.
Under most legal systems evidence gathered in such
circumstances would be deemed to be tainted and not admissible in a court
proceeding. Also disqualified from giving testimony would be the "tainted"
staff who attempted such wrongdoing. Attempting such a stunt in most UN member
states might see careers suspended if not terminated.
Member of Parliament Walid
Jumblatt condemned "the unethical behavior of UN investigators,"
noting that he understands Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah's political and moral
objections against such an act.