Full address by President Michel Aoun marking Jubilee celebration of Lebanese Bar Association

The following is the full address by His Excellency the President of the Lebanese Republic General Michel Aoun during the Jubilee celebration of the Lebanese Bar Association:

“Esteemed audience,

“Justice is the foundation of ruling”.

If Justice is the cornerstone for ruling, then you, attorneys, are one of the pillars and of the wings of justice. You strive and work hard to ensure it, and what tire you the most may be to strike balance between the rights of your client and achieving justice. The sacred right of defense falls within the concept of guarantees of the litigant set out in article 20 of the Lebanese Constitution, and is equal to the guarantee of the judge in order for the scales of justice to balance.

Only a few professions require taking an oath before embarking on them. In the military, the professionals swear to defend the nation and protect the land; in medicine, they swear to safeguard life and care for the friend as for the enemy; in law, you swear to keep the professional secret, work faithfully, comply with laws and regulations, and abide by the ethics to earn confidence and respect.

The oath is not just words which are repeated on an occasion and later forgotten. It is rather the guardian of the conscience, and it is a commitment which constantly accompanies the oath-taker and draws his/her path. The oath you take the day that you adhere to your Association draws to you the right path of professional and ethical success, and this is your immunity. By immunity, I do not mean your legal immunity, but rather the ethical immunity which protects and defends from slipping, from error, and from all sorts of corruption.

The legal profession is closer to being a vocation than a profession, and this is not a poetic rhetoric but rather a realistic one, because striving to reveal the truth and establish justice may be expensive and it is the core of your work.

Esteemed audience,

The story of Lebanon with law is long-standing. It goes back to the 2nd century, when Beirut hosted the first and most important law school, becoming truly the “Mother of Laws”. Your Association which was established in Beirut and the North in 1919, before the birth of Greater Lebanon, may also be duly called the “Mother of Associations”. Among its flashing moments: always adopting the great national causes, and defending public freedoms.

The pillars of the Judiciary are three among law professionals who complete each other to disclose all aspects of the truth, namely the Judge, the General Prosecutor and the attorney; without them or if any of their pillars presents any fault, the right cannot be accomplished.

The Judiciary is the cornerstone of the State of Right and Law. Indeed, there is no State without an independent and clean judicial branch which seeks justice and truth. Here I wish to remind about what Winston Churchill said in the aftermath of World War II, when London was being bombed by airplanes: “As long as the Judiciary is doing well, Britain is doing great”.

Therefore, purging the Judiciary has been on top of the priorities of our war against corruption which has gnawed at all our institutions. In fact, the judiciary must remain above suspicion, like Caesar’s wife, like the salt that must not lose its savor, a Judiciary that fights all forms of corruption and stands as a strong barrier thereof. With its independence and integrity, it guards and protects justice, thus becoming reliable for the citizens; because how can we resort to someone we do not trust?

Esteemed audience,

The Authority-Judiciary that we look upon is not necessarily the Judiciary of the political authority, in other terms the politically affiliated Judiciary in which the Judge has become the prisoner of the references, while the Judiciary must be an independent constitutional authority as per article 20 of the Constitution, which purifies itself by itself according to the legally adopted mechanisms, without defamation, blackmailing or abuse of any kind. Disciplinary and penal accountability is at the heart of this branch and not from the outside. During our tenure, the Judiciary will not a set of systems that depend on anybody, but rather a branch which practices its vocation inspired by the conscience of the free, impartial and neutral judge, with whom the guarantees of the litigants are ensured in full and uncompromised.

As I believe that the Judiciary is one of the pillars of the State whichbecomes weak and shattered, if it loses one of them, I called for a conference to discuss the issues of the Judiciary in Lebanon, which is currently under way, and will soon be held at the Presidential Palace under the theme “For a better Justice”, aimed at launching an open national dialogue between all the components who are concerned with fairness and justice, and to shed the light on the flaws in the current judicial situation, their causes and the way to mobilize the independent Judiciary as per the concept of Article20 of the Lebanese Constitution.

Counselors,

The vocation of the attorney is to defend before the judiciary either a litigant among many or a person accused of a crime, and in both cases the sanctity of his/her mission consists of defending them with all the legal and human means, and offer all the available arguments and evidence to clarify the picture before the judge to enable him/her to rule according to conscience and law, and without any confusion or ambiguity.

Lost justice destroys individuals and societies; indeed, injustice is the ally of falsehood, and no matter how high the cost of justice may be, it remains less expensive than the cost of injustice.

In conclusion, in appreciation of the ongoing efforts exerted by the Bar Association for one hundred years in the area of achieving justice, I hereby grant the Association the Lebanese Order of Merit – Gold (First Grade), as I grant the President of the Bar Association Andre Chidiac the National Order of the Cedar – Officer grade, in recognition of his dedication in the service of the nation and the syndical action.

Source: National News Agency

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