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Press Freedom Organizations Condemn Attacks on Journalists in Lebanon Perpetrators of Violations Must Be Held Accountable
January 20, 2020
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Since January 14, 2020, Lebanon witnessed a worrying wave of attacks against journalists and photographers covering protests in Beirut. Violence reached its peak in front of a police barrack in the Mar Elias neighborhood the night of January 15, 2020 when security officers and the riot police used excessive force to disperse protesters. Several journalists and photographers who were covering the stand-off were beaten, had their media equipment broken, and some were detained.
The SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom identified more than 20 violations against media professionals since January 14, which raises the total number of violations to 75 since the beginning of the popular uprising on October 17, 2019.
The signatory press freedom and media development organizations strongly condemn these blatant attacks on freedom of information and violations of basic journalists' rights. The organizations are gravely concerned that most of these violations were perpetrated by security forces whose primary duty is to protect citizens and provide journalists with the safest possible environment to fulfill their mission.
Following the clashes, caretaker Interior Minister Raya El Hassan spoke to the press and denied having issued orders to security forces to use force against peaceful protesters and journalists, saying she did not know who gave the instructions. This denial reinforces our concern related to the absence of accountability in a country where impunity for perpetrators of all types of crimes against journalists has been the norm, including when journalists were assassinated.
The signatory organizations call on the Lebanese authorities to conduct swift and transparent investigation into the parties that were responsible for the violent repression against journalists, followed by fair and independent judiciary action against perpetrators.