Last Updated: Thursday, 17 April 2014, 13:11 GMT

World Report - Lebanon

Publisher Reporters Without Borders
Publication Date 5 January 2010
Cite as Reporters Without Borders, World Report - Lebanon, 5 January 2010, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4b7aa9adc.html [accessed 21 April 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.
  • Area: 10,452 sq. km.
  • Population: 4,700,000
  • Language: Arabic
  • Head of state: Michel Sleiman (since May 2008)
  • Press Freedom Predator: NO

Since the assassination of former prime minister Rafic Hariri on 14 February 2005 and the withdrawal of Syrian forces in March 2005, divisions have deepened within Lebanese society. Political life has polarised around supporters of the 8 March movement (Hezbollah) and supporters of General Aoun on one side and the 14 March movement (ant-Syrian) on the other.

The designation of General Michel Sleiman as head of state at an inter-Lebanese Dialogue conference in Doha (Qatar) on 25 May 2008 allowed the country to regain a degree of stability after the six months of drift that followed the resignation of Emile Lahoud. But in the run-up to legislative elections on 7 June 2009 old tensions resurfaced. The struggle of the leader of the anti-Syria coalition Saad Hariri, to form a government of national unity following his election victory almost plunged the country into a fresh crisis.

The country's deep political polarisation is mirrored by Lebanon's different media. Although the Lebanese press continues to enjoy freedom of expression virtually unrivalled in the region, it has been undermined by political tensions. There was a further racking up of pressure in the run-up to the June 2009 poll.

The Lebanese authorities in April 2009 allowed the anti-Syrian television MTV to resume broadcasting seven years after it was taken off air. Although less common than in 2008, physical assaults that did occur against journalists were often the result of political tension. A film crew working for the Hezbollah television al-Manar came under a hail of stones and gunfire as they were leaving a stadium in Beirut. A car owned by journalist Lucie Barsakhian was damaged while she was reporting by a group from the Republican Youth, members of an opposition party, in May 2009. The journalist Assi Azar of the website Tayar al Mustaqbal (Movement of the Future, the party of Saad Hariri) was assaulted by a group of individuals as he left work on 28 June.

Elsewhere, the opening on 1st March 2009 of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) to try those accused of terror attacks against Lebanese figures could allow light to be shed on the 2005 murders of journalists Samir Kassir and Gebran Tueni.

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