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Can Lebanon's parliament further restrict press freedom in new law?

The media landscape in Lebanon has witnessed more attacks against journalists in recent years.
Tear gas canisters are fired among journalists and demonstrators during a protest demanding better pay and living conditions. Beirut, Lebanon, April 18, 2023.

BEIRUT — Rights organizations have expressed concerns over a draft media law currently being discussed in Lebanon’s parliamentary Administration and Justice Committee, warning that if passed, it would restrict freedom of press and expression in the country.

The Coalition to Defend Freedom of Expression said in a statement on Tuesday that the draft law contains “many alarming provisions that will stifle freedom of expression and press freedoms. It upholds criminal penalties, and in some cases increases prison sentences and fines, for insults and defamation.”

The coalition, which is made up of 14 Lebanese and international rights organizations, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, was formed in July 2020 with the aim to shed light on the Lebanese authorities’ repression of press freedom amid what it described as an “alarming increase in attacks” at the time against peaceful speech and expression.

Lebanon ranked 119th out of 180 countries on the Reporters Without Borders’ Press Freedom Index this year.

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