BEIRUT: General Security expressed regret Thursday over media reports that branded Lebanese passports as being among the worst in the world, saying such claims were based on a “misunderstanding.”
Lebanon was tied for 88th place with Kosovo, Sri Lanka and Sudan in the global ranking index for 2013 by Henley and Partners, a consulting firm which ranks countries based on their citizens’ freedom of travel.
All four countries received a score of 38, meaning that there are only 38 countries a Lebanese citizen can enter without a visa. Afghanistan came last, in 94th place, with a score of 28.
Finland, Sweden and the United Kingdom all tied for first place with a score of 173.
“While the report only mentioned Lebanon in this table, Lebanese media outlets published the news with a mistaken headline that is not in the report, and they said the Lebanese passport is among the 10 worst passports in the world,” a source at General Security told the Central News Agency. “This is the danger in translation and misunderstanding the issue.”
The General Security sources said the reports had “caused widespread confusion and damaged Lebanon’s civilized side, knowing that the Lebanese passport is among the best international passports.”
The Daily Star published a report Wednesday titled “Lebanese passport among ‘worst’ in world for travel,” citing the Henley and Partners’ report.
News of the report was widely circulated on social media, eliciting both mockery and anger.
Henley and Partners ranked Lebanon just ahead of Nepal, Eritrea, Palestine, Pakistan, Somalia, Iraq and Afghanistan, and just behind Iran, Myanmar, Libya and Syria, an improvement from previous years.
In 2010, it was ranked 94th with a score of just 32, placing it squarely between Eritrea and Somalia.
The General Security sources said that Lebanon would soon adopt an “advanced” biometric passport that will compete with the best in the world.
Lebanese citizens abroad suffer from numerous visa restrictions because of the deteriorating security situation in the country.
Hundreds of Lebanese Shiites have reportedly been deported from the Gulf states, particularly the United Arab Emirates, after the Gulf Cooperation Council announced they would levy sanctions against Hezbollah and its supporters over its military intervention in Syria in support of the government of President Bashar Assad.