Laval, Canada - January 06, 2003

Political interference in the freedom of the press - NTV shutdown

A second television station was shutdown in Lebanon this year, demonstrating a further decrease in the freedom of the press. RCPL is very concerned by this trend. "New Television", the latest victim, has been forbidden from satellite broadcasting. It has been prevented from broadcasting a report about social, political, economic and human rights situation in Saudi Arabia. The premier Rafik Hariri took the decision to shut the station down on the first day of 2003, despite the official holiday. 
On the 4th of January, the Lebanese president allowed the TV station to re-broadcast on satellites, against the will of the prime minister.

This event constitutes another example of the oppression of the press and the freedom of expression in Lebanon. The Lebanese authorities regularly interfere against media. It also presents a clear indication of the political interference at high levels in the judiciary system to ban freedom of expression, which is a pillar of democracy. 

This act is considered a serious and dangerous breach of the Lebanese constitution that guarantees the freedom of opinion and expression and a grave violation of the International Declaration of Human Rights. It also constitutes an extremely dangerous indication of the transformation of the Lebanese democratic system into a police state or a dictatorship.

RCPL calls the Lebanese authorities to stop all political interference in the judiciary system, respect the freedom of the press, the liberty of expression, and order the reopening without delay of all media, notably the two Television stations, MTV and NTV and the radio station RML. A breach of law by media stations should be punished within the legal system, with reasonable censorship or regulations, and not complete shutdowns. Additionally, RCPL recommends that the Lebanese authorities enact laws to prevent media ownership concentration and significant ownership of media by political leaders.

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