When our Minister for Interior launched the infamous “Shaher Ameni” (security month). Some people saw it as something cool and much-needed. I saw it as an awesome joke that keeps getting better, for several reasons. Here’s why:
1- One Month of Security, Not More?
As a Lebanese citizen in Lebanon, I find it deeply disturbing that security is properly enforced only one month a year, or ever for that matter. Seriously? It’s as if keeping law and order was an exceptional thing and one that needs a special month with special procedures…Why is it an extraordinary event Mr Minister? Are you admitting that there is no security, no law and no order in Lebanon, and that attempting to keep it is something extraordinary and something worth highly publicizing?
2- Heads-Up Criminals!
If you’re a criminal, you usually are aware of the fact you are being hunted down. In Lebanon, you know things move at a snail’s pace and fueled only by bribes and threats. So, when the minister tells you that for a month they’re gonna be extraordinary at doing the bare minimum of their jobs, you’ll make sure to be extra careful, hide somewhere or even go on vacation till the hype dies down. I find it hilarious that the minister was so generous and gave outlaws and suspects an advantage to seek shelter and safety from justice. He might’ve thought it was a deterrent force statement to prospective criminals, but, in a country where so many suspects are roaming free, the cons heavily outweighed the pros in my opinion.
3- Coincides With Judicial “Vacations”
Not many of you may know, but for several months a year, the judiciary system in Lebanon takes some time off. A lot of time off in fact. Depending on the judge and his/her conscience, a judge might spend as little as two hours a week reviewing cases and chairing courtrooms. So, all the people arrested are spending too much time in jail before even appearing in front of a judge. You’re catching “bad guys” but putting them in limbo with a judiciary that is mostly on vacation. What if the people caught was a misunderstanding? Or because a detective got paid off to make the bust of someone innocent? I think this is a major failure on the synchronization part of this security month.
As if the spontaneous checkpoints on busy nights weren’t already annoying, now you can rest assured they’re a certainty and much more numerous. Got a party in Gemmayzeh? Good luck getting their in time after getting stuck for as much as 40 minutes per checkpoint, and that’s assuming no stupid people are burning tires on the said day or road you’re taking.
So, when they catch actual criminals and terrorists, they get released because of tires burning and bullets firing. Meaning that any real threat gets bailed out by politicians or street thugs (which are mostly the same by the way). Who ends up being behind bars? Kids with a marijuana joint, bootleg dvd vendors and some douche who pays out checks with no balance. Real threats to my security these lot, not like silly things such as bullets, bombs, road closures and the like, those are minor things we shouldn’t bother with.
Congrats on catching 1,201 people this fine month. I wonder how many were actual criminals. I wonder how many crime bosses fled before the month. I wonder how many thugs were released because of corruption, coercion or bribery. I wonder if I can get to my dinner party in Verdun on time this weekend. I wonder when’s the next time the police decide to do their job for one month only.