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Al Mezan Center Calls for Ensuring Respect for the Work of Journalists and Human Rights Defenders;
Releasing Them Immediately

19-10-2008 00:00

On Thursday morning, 16 October 2008, a police force arrested a photojournalist and a sound technician of Ramatan News Agency and a human rights activist.
Their arrest was arbitrary and unjustified.
Three journalists have been arrested for one week now for reasons related only to their press career.
Field investigations of Al Mezan Center for Human Rights show that on Thursday, 16 October 2008, a police force arrested Muhammad Abu Sido, a photojournalist, and Muhammad al-Za'aneen, a sound technician, both of Ramatan News Agency.
When Mustapha Ibrahim, a human rights activist of the Palestinian Independent Commission for Human Rights (PICHR), tried to inquire about the reasons behind taking them in a police vehicle, to his surprise, an officer ordered his arrest.
He was arrested at around 12:25pm, and his mobile phone confiscated.
Ibrahim, a field researcher at the PICHR, was near Al-Azhar University following the development of incidents at the University.
However, the two journalists were there by chance.
They happened to get outside the building of the nearby Palestinian Red Crescent Society for the Gaza Strip, where they were covering a workshop on poverty.
Investigations proved they did not take any photographs of the clashes at the University.
They were held at the police headquarters 'al-Jawazat' for half an hour, where their video tapes and image folders on their phone memory cards were checked.
They were released later without being maltreated.
They were held at the office of the Director of the Palestinian Police Media Office inside the police headquarters in central Gaza.
In another incident, the Ministry of Interior's Internal Security arrested three journalists of Deir el-Balah town.
Two of them are members of the Deir el-Balah-based Palestinian Commission for Culture and Media, which had been closed earlier allegedly for administrative reasons.
The third works for the al-Hayat al-Jadida daily newspaper.
The Internal Security broke into their houses before arresting them.
The Center's field investigations show that at around 1:30am on Sunday, 12 October 2008, a police force in two jeeps and another white vehicle showed at the house of Akram Khalid el-Louh, 25, in Hikr el-Jami’ neighborhood in Deir el-Balah.
The force searched the house and took a PC, a photocopier machine and papers before arresting him.
At around 1:30am on Sunday, 12 October 2008, an Internal Security force arrested Yousif Ali Fayyad, 28, from his home, which is located in al-Birka neighborhood to the south of Deir el-Balah.
They searched the house and took over two PCs; one of them is Yousif’s.
Another force of the Internal Security arrested Hani Ahmad Ismael, 30.
The force arrived to his house, located in Deir el-Balah town, and searched his room and took over a PC before they left.
Al Mezan Center strongly condemns each and every violation of the freedom of opinion and expression and the freedom of the press.
The Center considers the aforementioned incidents an escalation that would further restrict public freedoms, particularly the freedom of opinion and expression and the freedom of the press.
Such acts cause harm to the work of human rights organizations and activists for the following reasons: Abu Sido and al- Za'aneen were arrested for carrying a TV camera in an area where the police was involved with clashes.
The incident raises concerns that police members have orders to arrest any journalist in the area.
This fact is supported with the arrest of Ibrahim, a human rights researcher, where the police officer ordering his arrest did not bother to inquire about his ID or why he was at the scene.
The arrest of three journalists from Dier el-Balah, after searching their homes and confiscating some of their property and private belongings, was carried out arbitrarily and in violation of the Palestinian Penal Procedure Law no.
3 of 2001.
Therefore, Al Mezan Center for Human Rights calls for immediate release of the three journalists and opening an investigation into the circumstances of their arrest, searching their houses and confiscating some of their personal belongings.
The Center also stresses the need to open an investigation into the incident of arresting the photojournalist, sound technician and human rights researcher and punish the person(s) who are found guilty of breaching the law in both incidents.
The Center stresses that the right of freedom of opinion and expression, the freedom of the press and public freedoms are afforded protection by the Palestinian Basic Law.
However, their violations continue to occur regularly.
In addition to the three journalists arrested in Gaza, there are seven journalists arrested in the West Bank.
Al Mezan Center calls for the immediate release of all journalists and political prisoners in the West Bank and Gaza.
It calls both governments in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip to work towards ensuring due respect and protection of human rights and punishing those who violate them.

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