Lebanon once again fell in the RSF rankings on press freedom. The land of cedars is now ranked 107th in the world out of 180 countries taken into account.
As a reminder, Lebanon was in 102nd place in 2020 . In question, various factors and in particular the politicization of the written press and the audio-visual space close to political parties.
If there is real freedom of tone in the Lebanese media, they nevertheless remain extremely politicized and polarized. Newspapers, radio stations and television channels serve as communication tools for certain political parties or businessmen. The Lebanese Penal Code considers defamation, slander as well as the dissemination of false information as offenses and has a very broad definition. We observe a worrying instrumentalisation of justice to prosecute the media and journalists who are directly or indirectly interested in political or religious figures deemed to be all-powerful.
In recent years, justice has worried presenters for letting their guests criticize the Lebanese authorities in their program, but also newspapers for investigating corruption. Journalists are most often sentenced to pay fines or imprisonment in absentia – although they are always liable to be sent behind bars – and are prosecuted before the printed courts but also by military justice. The issue of Syrian refugees and relations with Israel is also very sensitive.
While the October 2019 “revolution” lifted the taboo on criticism of untouchable figures, attacks on the media intensified during the protests. The security forces resort to a disproportionate use of force and attack journalists, who are clearly identifiable as such. The reporters who work for the media close to the power are mistreated by the demonstrators, who greet them with suspicion. Others, identified by individuals in their community, are accused of being traitors when they relay information against the tide.
Finally, bloggers and online journalists continue to be summoned by the “office for the fight against cybercrime” for publications on social networks, following a complaint filed by a private party, often notables linked to the government. .
The ultra-sensitive climate is such that journalist Lokman Slim was assassinated because of his repeated criticism of Hezbollah during his media interventions.
New in 2021, the RSF report takes into account disinformation around the Coronavirus COVID19. Thus, the virus has led some countries to prohibit access to certain information to journalists.
First country in the region in terms of press freedom, Tunisia with a score of 29.53 points. Kuwait follows with 34.36 points. Lebanon gets 34.93 points.