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Political pressure ”stronger than ever”: Lebanon drops 23 places in RSF’s 2022 ranking

Despite the 2019 revolution, “political pressure is stronger than ever” on the Lebanese media. This is denounced by the Reporters Without Borders association, which campaigns for freedom of the press, in parallel with the publication of its international ranking for the year 2022, in which Lebanon finds itself in 130th place out of 180, after a fall of 23 places compared to 2021.

In this new annual ranking, which is based partly on a survey of abuses against media professionals and partly on a questionnaire offered to specialists, Lebanon obtains a score of 46.58 out of 100 , which puts it in the category of “difficult situations” for the media. In 2021, his score was 65.07%.

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“While the media thought they were done with the media untouchable figures during the October Revolution in 2019, the political pressure is stronger than ever”, writes RSF in its analysis of the situation, recalling that the media market is ” controlled by a few individuals directly affiliated with parties or belonging to local dynasties”. “The media landscape is characterized by the stranglehold of political parties on the media, which depends on investors, and reflects the Lebanese political structure. We find in the press the political and community differences of the country, such as the confessional supervision which weighs on the media Journalism has thus been transformed into a full-fledged weapon of political conflict,” the organization comments.

“Instrumentation of justice”
RSF is also concerned about the disturbing instrumentalization of justice, which regularly condemns media and journalists to pay fines or imprisonment in absentia”, based in particular on a “very broad definition” of defamation and slander, considered as criminal offences.The association also underlines the difficulties encountered by the media and journalists due to the “historic financial crisis” that the country is going through and the consequences of the double explosion at the port of Beirut.

She also notes the misogyny and racism “which are not uncommon” in the media and the fact that “women journalists are often the subject of defamation campaigns”. “Political activists participate in intimidation campaigns, especially Hezbollah loyalists, who use Twitter to threaten journalists,” also criticizes RSF. Finally, the organization recalls that, since October 2019, “reporters who work for media close to power have been mistreated by demonstrators”.

For memory

Summoned by the criminal investigation office, journalist Mohammad Nimer denounces a “police state”

In its commentary on the regional situation in the Middle East, RSF believes that “there will be a long way to go before (the region) becomes an Eldorado for journalists”. Recalling the assassination of journalist and political analyst Lokman Slim in 2021, the association raises the fact that “online attacks and death threats against journalists are increasing and also materializing in real life”. “Faced with the inaction of the authorities, several of them were forced to flee abroad,” she laments.

At the beginning of February, just one year after the assassination of the political analyst, filmmaker, publisher and opponent of Hezbollah, RSF announced that it would seize the UN on this crime, in order to ask the international organization to ensure that the Lebanese authorities “take all necessary measures to guarantee the safety and protection” of journalists.

On the occasion of World Press Freedom Day, which falls on May 3, the French Ambassador to Lebanon, Anne Grillo, said in a tweet that “in this difficult period, Lebanon has never need a free, independent and responsible press”.

Despite the 2019 revolution, “political pressure is stronger than ever” on the Lebanese media. This is denounced by the Reporters Without Borders association, which campaigns for freedom of the press, in parallel with the publication of its international ranking for the year 2022, in which Lebanon finds itself in 130th place out of 180, after falling 23 places from…

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