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Lebanon: writer accused of criminal charges for defamation

Friday 21 December 2018 - 3:50pm

Available in Arabic : PDF and Word متوفر بالعربية

21 December 2018

 RAN 09/18

 PEN International is concerned at the trial of Hani H. Nsouli, a Lebanese writer and political activist who has been recently transferred to the individual criminal Court in Beirut on charges of "defamation". Nsouli’s first hearing will be held on 22 January 2019.

 Nsouli’s trail is related to social media publications and a voice comment he circulated through the "WhatsApp" application, in which he criticized a public political figure. The latest filled a lawsuit against Nsouli for slander and defamation under articles 582-584 of the Lebanese penal code. PEN International considers that defamation should be addressed solely as a matter of civil law within the national jurisdiction of the concerned state. Consequently, it calls upon the Lebanese government for the criminal charges against writer Nsouli to be dropped immediately, and to repeal or amend its laws in conformity with its obligations to respect the right to freedom of expression and impart information in accordance to Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

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Send Appeals:

  • Calling on the Lebanese authorities to immediately drop the criminal charges against Hani H. Nsouli and to ensure the full respect of his right to freedom of expression;
  • Abolish or amend its criminal defamation laws and ensure that adequate safeguards to protect the right to reputation are provided solely through civil law;

  • Ensure the peaceful exercise of the right to freedom of expression and opinion, including dropping all charges against writers and journalists under investigation or detention solely for the peaceful exercise of their rights.

Send appeals to:

Mr. Salim Jean Jreissati, Minister of Justice

Ministry of Justice

Sami Soloh Street - Adlieh Area - 5th floor

Beirut - Lebanon

Fax: 00961 (0) 1-611142

Mr. Nohad Machnouk, Minister of Interior and Municipalities 

Al-Sane’ – al-Hamra

PO Box: 9710 - 9500

Beirut - Lebanon

Fax: 00961 (0) 1750084

Email: admin@moim.gov.lb

It is recommended that you send a copy of your appeals via the diplomatic representative for Lebanon in your country. Contact details for embassies can be found here

** Please keep us informed of any action you take in regard to Hani H. Nsouli’s case, including any responses you receive from the authorities.

Background:

On 19 September 2018, Nsouli was summoned to the Central Criminal Investigation Department in Beirut and was interrogated after a brief detention for seven hours. Nsouli has been charged following a lawsuit filed by a public political Lebanese figure who accused him of defamation under articles 582-584 of the Lebanese penal code. The judicial case (No. 2977 of 2018) was subsequently transferred to the individual criminal Court in Beirut on charges of defamation, and the first hearing will be held on 22 January 2019.

The defamation claims are usually referred to the Court of publications in Lebanon. Referring Nsouli’s case to the "Criminal court" could result of silencing free voice, and violating the right to freedom of expression and opinion.

In its report  Stifling Dissent Impeding Accountability - Criminal Defamation Laws in Africa, PEN provides that many governments "continue to stifle freedom of expression, open debate, political criticism and media reporting using laws that make it a crime to say, write or publish anything that they consider defamatory or insulting". It is added that "these laws are usually vague and sweepingly broad, opening them to such wide interpretation that they act as an ever-present constraint, particularly on investigative journalism and other aspects of the media’s capacity to perform its public watchdog role".

Hani H. Nsouli - born in 1954 - is a Lebanese Political Consultant & Analyst who has publishing articles in "al-Nahar” newspaper and several magazines featuring a series of political articles covering issues of corruption, violence and liberties. In addition, he participated in a number of political programs on Lebanese and foreign television.

For any further information, please contact Nael Georges, PEN International, Koops Mill Mews, 162-164 Abbey Street, London SE1 2AN | Tel: +44 (0) 207 405 0338 | Email: Nael.Georges@pen-international.org