Antelias, January 13 th, 2004
The Union Catholique Internationale of the Presse – Lebanon declares being surprised by the political and media campaign led against An-Nahar concerning the information published by the daily newspaper about the air crash in Cotonou.. The UCIP also denounces the fact that Deputy Fares Saaid was forbidden from holding a conference in Tripoli. The UCIP communiqué includes the following:
1- The An-Nahar newspaper was subjected to tough criticism by media, political and parliamentary parties because of the article written by Mr Gebrane Tueni on the Cotonou air crash. That criticism was more political than professional; it was biased rather than neutral. The authors of that criticism would have better denounced the accident and offered information that would serve the truth in respect for the victims, in order to spare the feelings of their parents and defend their rights. A rational response would show a certain responsibility that would dispel doubts and confusions around that material as well as human catastrophe.
2- In order for the responses not to appear as defensive denunciations, it would have been better without really expressing an exaggerated sympathy vis-à-vis the catastrophe, something close to a threat for the future of that old newspaper that has such an important heritage, which reveals pressure on media freedoms that the Constitution has guaranteed and the laws have protected just like the right of all to sue any media that might go beyond the legal limits.
3- The air crash that has many dimensions, human, national and ethical, is so terrible for Lebanon that it requires from the part of the officials, the media and the different actors of the public opinion a very special attention. The facts have to be rectified and clarified unlike some events of the Lebanese arena, in order to serve the truth that every person working honestly in the media has to disclose and justice that every noble and unbiased political or judiciary official wants to achieve. So both political and media responsibilities are complementary for controlling and charging the people responsible for this catastrophe, whether by negligence or by ignorance of the technical, lega land moral conditions and submitting them to necessary sanction in order to prevent such a catastrophe in the future.
4- The UCIP also denounces the fact that Deputy Fares Saaid was forbidden from holding a conference in Tripoli, this act being an insult for the position of deputy who is supposed to represent the whole Lebanese population not part of it. The UCIP also reminds that such an attitude is contrary to the simplest principles of democracy, coexistence and acknowledgment of the other and leads to the spread of the imported policy of exclusion. It is also in contradiction with the spirit of hospitality that is the core of the Lebanese and Arab values and with the traditions of the noble city of Tripoli.