Despite Lebanon’s vibrant civil society and media sector, criticising the government can still lead to defamation charges. Lebanese media is diverse but outlets are often aligned with sectarian and regional powers. For many years political crisis preventing the election of a president stalled progress on human rights reforms, including an access to information law. When Lebanon finally elected a president in October 2016, the access to Information law was adopted soon after. Much work remains to implement the law, but it is an important step towards transparency. The political impasse and paralysis also fuelled corruption, triggering widespread social protests in 2015 at the government’s failure to provide basic services, with Lebanon’s most marginalized groups including rural communities, unemployed youth, and people with disabilities participating in the protests. Some protesters were prosecuted in military courts. LGBTQI groups reported physical threats during the annual Pride March, and a lack of protection from authorities.
ARTICLE 19 monitors the status of freedom of expression in Lebanon and its access to information obligations. We analyse the implications of Lebanon’s Access to Information legislation for minority groups, particularly for people with disabilities. We also monitor the increasing prevalence of digital threats, surveillance tactics and attacks on sexual and gender minority groups by working directly with local groups and experts.