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SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom - Samir Kassir Foundation

Monitoring MPs’ Human Rights and Free Speech Positions – December 2023

Tuesday , 16 January 2024

Background and Context


The conclusion of 2023 marked a significant decrease in the number of statements, related to human rights, issued by Lebanese Members of Parliament (MPs), totaling 50. This is in stark contrast to the preceding months, with three months recorded over 100 statements each (January, April, and August 2023), and one month reaching a peak of 272 statements in October 2023.


Of the 50 statements, 33% advocated for the rights of Palestinians, while 18% emphasized Israel’s war crimes. This suggests that half of the human rights-related statements were linked to the Gaza war, which has tragically resulted in the death of at least 23,000 Palestinians since October 7, 2023.


The report excludes statements related to MPs’ votes on the extension of Army Chief Joseph Aoun, the commemoration of former MP Gebran Tuéni’s assassination, and festive wishes for Christmas and the New Year. These topics, although addressed by a significant majority of MPs, are unrelated to human rights.




In December 2023, a total of 50 statements addressing human rights issues were issued by 26 MPs, disseminated through their personal accounts on X and Facebook.


These statements have been categorized into seven topics, with the first topic remaining predominant since October 2023:


  • Palestinians’ rights
  • Women’s rights
  • War crimes
  • Right to education
  • Public freedoms
  • Press freedom
  • Armenians’ rights


Data Display


It is important to acknowledge that the data collected in this process may not be exhaustive. Nonetheless, despite its inherent limitations, the gathered data provides a foundation for generating hypotheses concerning the discourse surrounding human rights issues. This analysis specifically focuses on human rights, journalists’ rights, and freedom of speech within the public political discourse throughout December 2023.


Figure 1. Distribution of data across Members of Parliament

Figure 2. Distribution of data across political parties and groups

Figure 3. Distribution of data based on group type


Figure 4. Distribution of data across theme of statement


 Table 1. Distribution of data across theme of statement and group name




Among the 50 statements, a noteworthy emphasis was placed on the rights of Palestinians, comprising a total of 15 statements. Additionally, 12 statements were dedicated to women’s rights, while eight addressed Israel’s war crimes. The remaining statements delved into various other topics including the right to education, press freedom and Armenians’ rights.


Within the 12 statements concerning women’s rights, MP Inaya Ezzedine touched upon children’s rights in the same statement.


MP Elias Hankach issued three statements related to public freedoms. While all three statements were inspired by recent developments regarding the draft media law, two of the statements addressed a broader context: the repression of public liberties and press freedom in Lebanon. He decried attempts to “place Lebanon under the framework of a Police State,” calling for looking at how “developed countries handle press freedom and public liberties.”


Concerning statements on war crimes committed by Israel, expressions of solidarity with different victims of these crimes were evident. One statement focused on Palestinian civilians, made by MP Ibrahim Moussawi. Additionally, two statements addressed journalists’ plight caused by Israeli attacks, coming from MPs Mark Daou and Ibrahim Moussawi. Five statements focused on Lebanese civilians, issued by MPs Kassem Hachem, Elias Hankach, Halimé Kaakour, Farid El Khazen, and Ibrahim Mneimneh.


To gain a deeper understanding of the political landscape and identify the most vocal groups on human rights in December 2023, an examination of the total count of statements made by each group proves insightful. The following tables provide an overview of these findings:

Table 2. Ranking based on absolute numbers - five political groups with highest numbers of statements


Table 3. Ranking based on relative numbers - from the political group with the highest percentage of members who made statements to the one with the lowest percentage


A notable decline in the Lebanese Forces’ ranking is observed, as only one LF MP issued a statement on human rights — an unprecedented occurrence since the commencement of this monitoring in June 2022.


Table 4. Ranking of the top-10 MPs who shared most statements from June 2022 till November 2023


In December 2023, echoing the trends of the two preceding months, MP Paula Yacoubian emerged as one of the most prolific speakers on matters related to human rights, delivering a total of 5 statements, a number equaled this month by  MP Elias Hankach.


MP Mark Daou maintains his lead in the cumulative number of statements made since June 2022.


“Poor Performers”: Anti-Human Rights Standpoints


The Xenophobe

After numerous tweets in the preceding months focused on Syrian refugees, MP Gebran Bassil introduced a racist element into his tweets in December 2023. This led to his inclusion in the list of xenophobic MPs, and consequently, his exclusion from this monitoring moving forward.


It is crucial to note that human rights are universal and equal. Despite this, MP Bassil explicitly expressed the viewpoint that rights should be afforded to Syrian refugees to a lesser extent than to Lebanese individuals. He particularly emphasized the call for their forced return to Syria through several tweets.

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