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The President of BBA and the members at the Ministry of Information

17 December, 2014

The President of the Beirut Bar Association and the members of the Bar Council at the Ministry of Information
On December 17th, 2014

The Minister of Information, Ramzi Jreij, met in his office at the Ministry, a delegation of the Beirut Bar Association headed by the Bar President, Georges Jreij, in the presence of the General Director of the Ministry, Dr. Hassan Saab, the Director of the “Agence nationale d’Information”, Laure Sleiman Saab and the Advisor of the Minister of Information, André Kassas.

The delegation included the lawyers: Toufic Noueiry, Nasser Caspar, Charles Abi Saab, Nada Talhouk, Samih Bcherrawi, Jacques Abou Abdallah and Fadi Moussallem.

The Bar President Jreij
The Bar President said: “We are visiting today a great title given by a great man to the Ministry of Information whose effects have been cancelled in other countries and that became, according to Minister Ramzi Jreij, a Ministry for civil liberties and for the defense of human rights. I firmly believe that, by passing in this place, Minister Ramzi Jreij saved the Ministry of Information from a narrow role, a closed zone, a position of counselor sometimes and of repressor some other times, but always an observer, turning it into a bastion combining the complete victory of law from the one hand and liberties from the other hand. This is not new for this great man, who, wherever he goes, he leaves his tracks and footprints, traces his booming voice in the area, his presence in the Palace of Justice and his fixed spectrum at the House of the Lawyer”.

He added: “Your Excellency the Minister, we, as Bar and Bar President, are by your side to support the responsible media liberties. We are by your side to repress repression, stop mouths and prevent the domestication and taming of media.
We are by your side to edify the institutions, and this can only be achieved after a head is found, whether by consensus or by elections. Allow me here to recall what his Excellency President Tammam Salam said in the reception organized last week by the Lebanese Embassy in Paris, in which I have had the honor to participate. He said that we will not be able to act without a head and, if failure was a condition to elect a president, I would prefer failure to success, only to reach the highest goal, i.e. the regularity of institutions”.

He continued: “Minister Jreij has taken all opportunities to recall the deep trouble inflicted to the Lebanese Republic by deviating from the Constitution’s trajectory, ignoring the deadlines and violating the rules. The Minister and Bar President was at the head of those who participated in the campaign that we have launched from the House of the Lawyer requesting to end vacancy, prevent its escalation, make the presidential elections Lebanese and elect the president of the Republic. After having taken the Government functions, this great man said: exercising my functions within the Ministry does not mean that I do not belong to the legal profession anymore, because it is a school and I need its teachings to perform my duties in the Ministry of Information”.

He said: “Yes, the Bar President Edmond Caspar was right to say, when the Government in which he was a minister resigned: I am from the dust of the legal profession, and to the dust of the legal profession I shall return. Long live the legal profession, long live liberties, long live the information and the Minister of Information, long live Lebanon”.


The Minister of Information
Then the Minister of Information spoke: “Between the Bar, where the word defends justice, and the Ministry of Information where the word defends freedom, there is a distance I have easily crossed, considering that both of them believe in complementary values, not to say, common, and none of them can do without the other”.

Jreij added: “The Bar, that I have had the honor to lead, is the mother of unions and the fortress of freedoms. It contributed, since its establishment in 1919, and is still contributing to the defense of national constants, and in the first place Lebanon’s independence and sovereignty, national unity, coexistence as well as the Rule of law and institutions, with the respect of the Constitution and of the devolution of powers in their due dates imposed by this State. The Bar, led by its courageous and active President, my friend Georges Jreij, asks today the election of a new president of the Republic and is opposed to the extension of the Parliament’s mandate, in harmony with a long history of defense of democracy and legitimacy”.

He continued: “The Bar served as an example as to the devolution of power, knowing that the elections within the Bar are held every year on time whatever the circumstances; a president succeeds another and a Council replaces another, and the Bar preserves continuously periodic and democratic elections and continues its mission to achieve justice because without it there will be no State”.

He said: “As to the Ministry of Information, its role meets that of the Bar, because it should, at the same time, defend media freedom consecrated in the Constitution and ensure that this freedom is exercised under the roof of the law, especially that Lebanon is witnessing exceptional circumstances in which our army is suffering an aggression perpetrated against it by takfiri terrorists whose one of the arms is the media war that we should face, preventing that our screens, radios and newspapers turn into tribunes through which they intimidate the Lebanese people, sowing doubt in his mind concerning the Army’s ability to defend the country”.
He continued: “In that sense, the Ministry of Information and the Bar are in the same trench for the defense of responsible freedom and the Rule of law; in this respect, I support the movement headed by the Bar to the Baabda Palace in order to express its objection to the vacancy of the position of President of the Republic. I call it, together with the other components of the civil society, to make pressure, by the democratic means, on political forces to push them to respond to the request of the Lebanese people: let the nation’s deputies ensure the quorum and elect a new president of the Republic as soon as possible”.

The Minister of Information thanked the Bar President and the delegation for “their precious visit to a Minister who is proud, whatever his current position, to be a lawyer and a former Bar President, knowing that his nostalgia remains for his first house that no other place resembles”.

Minister Jreij called to “teach a subject at the Bar Institute that has been established during President Jreij’s mandate, on “the relationship between justice and information”. We have already organized a seminar on this relationship”. He said: “We have already issued a circular related to how a lawyer should behave with media concerning the files entrusted to him, defending and pleading before the bar not on TV screens and, when the requirements of justice oblige him to be on TV or to go through media, he should take the permission of the Bar President so that chaos does not prevail concerning the way lawyers behave vis-à-vis media. I hope that, at the Bar Institute, a subject will be taught related to the ethics of the relationship between media and lawyers”.

Falha
In his turn, Dr. Falha asked the Minister of Information, as former Bar President and Minister of Information, “that there be cooperation to develop a mechanism explaining how the Bar works and send a circular in this respect to the Press and Editors Associations of whom we are proud, as we are proud of the Bar that can leave politics behind and work with high professionalism, producing results. It is really one of the respected unions in Lebanon, not to say the first”.

He hoped that “the Press and Editors Associations will work to ensure decent conditions for their members, just like the Bar”.

Jreij
Minister Jreij answered by confirming that “the Press and Editors Associations have a great importance and a role in the regulation of written press and I call them, in the exercise of their work, to follow the Bar’s example”.

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