BEIRUT: During the handover ceremony at the Justice Ministry, the newly appointed justice minister, Shakib Qortbawi, promised not to engage in vengeful acts and to address the needs of the judicial branch.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I come to the ministry from a political movement, but I am a minister for all Lebanon and not for a specific group,” Qortbawi said during the ceremony, which was attended by his predecessor Ibrahim Najjar, General Prosecutor Saeed Mirza and a number of judicial figures.
Handover ceremonies were also held Monday at the ministries of Social Affairs, and for the Displaced.
“I am not here to embark on vengeful acts, but to help in implementing the law [for everyone],” said Qortbawi, who is close to Michel Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement.
The minister touched on his performance as the head of Beirut Bar Association, during which he said he applied the law equally. “I was supported by some political factions, but I dealt with everybody in line with law and with equality.”
Qortbawi vowed to work on raising the salaries and benefits for judges, consolidating the independence of judiciary and protecting judges from fabricated charges.
The minister also said he would secure the funds necessary to have decent justice palaces.
“As a lawyer, I would enter justice palaces and be surprised by the narrowness of the place and the lack of enough decent rooms … Despite the difficult state of the treasury, I will make an effort to get the needed funds,” Qortbawi said.
The minister also vowed to enhance oversight of court registrars, judicial assistants and court ushers.
Meanwhile, Najjar boasted that he filled all full-time posts at the ministry during his term. “I did not have this [level of] occupancy when I was handed the Justice Ministry.”
“Despite challenges and difficulties … strong foundations were laid [during my tenure], on which the major elements of trust in the judicial branch were restored,” Najjar added.
Meanwhile, former Minister for the Displaced Akram Shehayeb handed his post to Alaaeddine Terro during a ceremony at the ministry, with the newly minted minister promising to achieve the long awaited-goal of wrapping up the file of Christians displaced from the Chouf district during Civil War.
“Our main goal will be to complete the reconciliations which Minister Akram Shehayeb started … because by closing the file of the displaced, we will be healing a big wound that affects all Lebanese without exception,” Terro said.
Social Affairs Minister Wael Abu Faour took over reigns from former Minister Salim Sayegh.
Abu Faour highlighted the need to “benefit from the experiences of this ministry and to preserve and capitalize on the achievements made.”
The minister promised to consult Sayegh and his predecessors on matters related to the ministry, promising to transform it into an institution of social “development.”
Separately, Transport and Public Works Minister Ghazi Aridi, who retained his post in the new Cabinet, detailed in a news conference the achievements and ongoing projects of his ministry.