Lebanon is currently facing an unprecedented multiple crisis at political, social and economic levels. Substantial reforms are a main precondition of any recovery. During this period of uncertainty and transition, independent and trustworthy media is more important than ever to enable Lebanese people to hold those in power accountable. Independent media and free access to information play an essential role in ensuring accountability, following up on reforms, revealing corruption and equipping people wuth evidence-based information on matters of public interest. 

In collaboration with  Maharat and Legal Agenda, two NGOs based in Lebanon, Media and Journalism Research Center (MJRC) has embarked on the project “Support to Media Reform in Lebanon to Enhance Freedom of Expression”. The aim of the project is to provide openings at policy level to media reform in Lebanon to enhance freedom of expression.

Maharat has been consistently working to advance a supportive ecosystem for Freedom of Expression (FoE) through its advocacy work, media monitoring reports, training programs, and diverse resources about FoE including Internet freedomLegal Agenda is an established socio-legal research, strategic litigation and advocacy organization, with a specialized media outlet that attracts an average of 600,000 visitors per year from Lebanon and the MENA region. It has a more than 10-years of track record in driving public debate on socio-legal issues, in particular related to the independence of the judiciary, liberties, public freedoms, and socio-economic rights.

The project will aim to enable local actors, including MPs, relevant ministries, judges, lawyers, scholars and media makers to create these openings, building on European standards while making sure only those fitting the context apply. The project will support EU priorities in the field of human rights, specifically freedom of expression, to strengthen democracy and assist in the implementation of the EU EOM’s finding as per the Human Rights and Democracy Thematic Program under Global Europe: Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI) – the EU program for external action funds for 2021-2027.

As part of its role in the project, MJRC has established a team of six experts who will write papers on EU standards and good practices that are meant to provide inspiration for media policy in Lebanon. The research project consists of expert papers about the following topics:

  • Associations of journalists (definition, syndicates, unions, socio economic rights of journalists, etc.)
  • Protection of journalists and journalistic sources
  • Incentives for media startups (abolishing licenses for prints, registration fees for prints, avoiding media concentration, incentives, facilities)
  • How to modernize media laws to cope with digital change? (e.g. laws that will accommodate content regulation of social media, copyright, privacy/data protection)
  • Freedom of expression & criminalization
  • Regulation and co-regulation: supervisory authority and independent press council (ownership, governance, transparency, licenses, independence, powers, self- regulation processes, public broadcast
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Krisztina Rozgonyi’s photo by Monika Saulich.