In recent years and particularly since protests began in October 2019, there has been a significant deterioration in the state of press freedom in Lebanon. In an effort to document and assess both the legal framework and violative practices responsible for facilitating this deterioration, the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy (TIMEP) and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) have submitted a joint stakeholder report ahead of the third cycle of Lebanon’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR), set to take place in January and February 2021.
The joint submission documents:
- An expansive legal framework that has negatively impacted press freedom, facilitated the application of overly-broad language to censor and restrict content, limited the ability of journalists and outlets to obtain licenses, and set forth punishment for exercises of expression;
- A steady rise in incidents of violence against journalists and media workers, primarily at the hands of security forces, but also civilians;
- Criminal defamation and false news prosecution of journalists reporting on issues of public interest and journalists critical of Lebanese authorities;
- The summoning of journalists and social media users for questioning about articles and social media posts critical of authorities; and
- The leveraging of surveillance technology to further rights violations against Lebanese and other journalists.
The UPR is a mechanism of the United Nations (UN) created to examine the human rights record of all UN member states. Per the UPR process, the country under review submits a national report and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights puts together one report compiling UN information on the country—including reports by the UN special procedures and treaty bodies, as well as a second report compiling information received from stakeholders, including civil society. Lebanon underwent its first UPR cycle in November 2010 and its second cycle in November 2015.