SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom - Samir Kassir Foundation

SKeyes Condemns Legal Action against Online Critics of the President

Monday , 15 June 2020

The SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom is concerned about the June 15, 2020 letter from Prosecutor General Ghassan Oueidat to the Criminal Investigation Department, asking to investigate and track the people who published posts and pictures deemed offensive to the President of the Republic.

Lebanon is currently facing the worst crisis in its modern history largely due to its leaders’ dismal governance, and the lack of commitment to democratic standards by its political parties and sectarian figures. In such a climate, the judiciary should remain the recourse for the Lebanese people to protect their rights and freedoms, which are guaranteed by the Constitution and international treaties. The SKeyes Center regrets Judge Oueidat’s decision, its timing and lack of clarity, and sees it as another regression in the state of public libertiesin Lebanon. SKeyes also considers this approach as a pretext to carry out censorship on social media, while reminding the relevant authorities that the only entity entitled to take action in cases related to freedom of expression is the Court of Publications. No other judicial, security or military entity can replace it for whatever reason.

This decision aims at intimidating bloggers and activists on social media platforms and independent online media.  SKeyes warns against the intention of those in power to drag freedoms to the rock bottom that has been reached by the country’s economic and social situation. The real offense to the Presidency is suggesting it is heading a repressive state that mirrors the harmful practices of neighbouring countries. And this is far more dangerous than any post, picture or comment that could be posted online.

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