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SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom - Samir Kassir Foundation

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

Wednesday , 17 May 2023
Photo credit: AFP

Background and Context


In April 2023, Lebanese Members of Parliament (MPs) made a total of 100 statements on social media concerning human rights.


However, certain statements were excluded from this report as they were not directly related to human rights. These included statements regarding the remembrance of the Lebanese civil war on April 13 and the postponement of the municipal elections, which were delayed by a law voted in the parliament on April 18, 2023. Towards the end of the month, some legislators and activists expressed solidarity with MPs Melhem Khalaf and Najat Saliba, who had been holding a sit-in in parliament for 100 days.


Other statements were excluded from the report due to their discriminatory and hateful nature towards Syrian refugees. A total of 43 statements made by MPs expressed the desire to repatriate Syrian refugees, but many of these statements employed racist and hateful language. The majority of these problematic statements, precisely 29 out of 43, were attributed to the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), with MP Gebran Bassil accounting for 24 of them, which corresponds to approximately 83%. It is worth noting that, until February 2023, MP Bassil had not made any statements related to human rights. However, in March 2023, he did make four statements on the subject. It is also worth mentioning that this report only included one statement that addressed the rights of Syrian refugees, emphasizing the significance of avoiding racism towards them.


Several events contributed to the increase in statements about human rights during April compared to previous months. These included attacks on Muslim prayers in Al-Aqsa Mosque in Palestine during Ramadan prayer and on Christians in Jerusalem on Easter Saturday. Both attacks were categorized under the theme of "Religious Freedoms". The repatriation of Syrian refugees to Syria by Lebanese security officials and the summoning of lawyer Nizar Saghieh by the Council of the Beirut Bar Association for speaking out against the amendments made to the Lawyers’ Code of Ethics were also highlighted in 25 statements under the themes of "Freedom of Expression" and "Judicial Independence". In addition, Armenian genocide remembrance day on April 24 was also a subject of discussion.


In total, 47 MPs made 100 human rights-related statements in April, covering a range of themes. The highest percentage of statements (38%) were related to freedom of expression. All political parties, except for Hezbollah and the National Liberal Party, made human rights-related statements.




In April 2023, Lebanese MPs made 100 statements on Twitter and Facebook from their personal accounts, which were monitored from April 1 to 30, 2023.


These statements were categorized into various themes, including:


  • Freedom of Expression
  • Armenian Genocide
  • Judicial Independence
  • Religious Freedoms
  • Children and Women’s Rights
  • Human Rights
  • Right to Information
  • Arbitrary Detention
  • Syrian Refugees’ Rights
  • Prison Conditions


Data Display


During the process of gathering this data, we acknowledge that the information provided may not be entirely comprehensive. Nonetheless, this data enables us to put forward hypotheses concerning how human rights issues and opinions, specifically regarding free speech, were discussed in the public political discourse during April 2023.

Figure 1. Distribution of data across Members of Parliament


In addition, during that same month, three out of the 47 MPs who made statements related to human rights had not made any such statements since their election. These MPs are Abdul Aziz Al-Samad (Ex-Future Movement), Georges Bouchikian (Tashnag), and Haidar Nasser (Independent).

Figure 2. Distribution of data across political parties and groups

Figure 3. Distribution of data across non-sectarian opposition political parties and groups

Figure 4. Distribution of data based on group type

Figure 5. Distribution of data across theme of statement

Figure 6. Disaggregation of the theme “Freedom of Expression”


Figure 7. Disaggregation of the theme “Religious Freedoms”


Figure 8. Disaggregation of the theme “Judicial Independence”


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




In April 2023, there was a noticeable increase in MPs' online statements related to human rights compared to the past two months. Out of the 100 statements, a significant majority of 38 were about freedom of expression, followed by 22 statements about the Armenian genocide, 15 about judicial independence and 12 about religious freedoms.


It is noteworthy that there are two methods of ranking these statements: the first compares the total number of statements made by each political group (as indicated in Table 2 below), while the second method compares the percentage of MPs within each group who made statements. In other words, SKF tallied the number of MPs who made statements and belonged to a specific group, then calculated their percentage in relation to the total number of MPs in that group (as illustrated in Table 3 below).


Table 2. Ranking based on absolute numbers - from the political group with the most statements to the one with the least


Based on the table, Change MPs had the highest number of statements related to human rights in April 2023, with 51 statements, followed by Independent MPs with 17 statements, and the Lebanese Forces with 9 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


As per the table, all 12 Change MPs and three Tashnag MPs made statements during the month of April. 50% of the MPs of Kataeb, Marada Movement, and Independence Movement did that too.


Table 4. Top 10 Ranking of MPs who shared most statements from June 2022 till April 2023


MPs Halimé Kaakour, Ibrahim Mneimneh and Mark Daou continue to hold the top three positions in terms of the total number of statements shared since June 1, 2022, as they did in January, February, and March 2023.


It is important to consider the consistency of MPs’ statements. MP Daou has made statements related to human rights in nine out of the 11 months of monitoring, while MP Mneimneh and MP Kaakour have both made such statements in seven out of the 11 months.

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