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80 days after prohibiting distribution of Palestine and Alrissala papers; Al Mezan calls for lifting all restrictions on freedom of the press

26-08-2007 00:00

The Palestinian emergency government has prohibited the distribution of the Gaza-based newspapers Palestine and Alrissala in the West Bank for eighty consecutive days.
In Gaza, the Executive Force (EF), the policing body of Hamas' deposed government, has escalated its violations against journalists and restriction of the freedom of press.
Al Mezan has been informed of an attempt by the EF to arrest the AFP's Sakher Abu Al-Own after he spoke against restrictions on the freedom of the press in the Gaza Strip yesterday.
While violations of the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of the press in the Gaza Strip have frequently and effectively been reported and put to scrutiny, similar conducts are kept in the shadow in the West Bank.
Al Mezan, which is based in Gaza with no presence in the West Bank, does not have direct access to data and information essential for reporting there.
Yet, Al Mezan considers the continued prohibition of distributing the Gaza-based newspapers, Palestine and Alrissala, in the West Bank a serious, unacceptable restriction of the freedom of expression.
The Center has been concerned by the overemphasis on the situation and the violations in the Gaza Strip and ignoring similar acts in the West Bank.
In defending human rights, emphasis must be basically placed on the violation rather than the identity of the violator or its location.
Over the eighty-day prohibition of Palestine and Alrissala newspapers, Al Mezan has not received information about measures or calls intended to stop this violation.
This despite its negative consequences on the freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas from diverse sources.
Al Mezan condemns the EF's attempted arrest of Sakher Abu Al-Own from his home in Gaza City.
This engenders a further step to silence journalists.
Al Mezan, however, commends the moves taken by journalists; of whom many supporters of Hamas, and human rights activists to prevent the arrest.
Al Mezan also condemns the prohibition of the two newspapers in the West Bank for a long time.
Such conduct represents a violation of human rights standards and Palestinian domestic law; including the Basic Law and Law on the press and distribution NO 9 Year 1995.
Al Mezan therefore calls for immediate halt of the prohibition if the two newspapers in the West Bank.
While commending the solidarity among journalists in Gaza, the Center calls for legal protection of journalists in OPT.
As has been frequently emphasized by Al Mezan and other human rights organizations, the Center calls for respect and protection of free expression and promotion of the role of the media in serving human rights and democracy.
As such, Al Mezan calls for: Full respect of the freedom of expression and media work.
Those are closely essential for the promotion and protection of all human rights; which cannot be respected without granting free expression and a lively media.
Promotion of the role of the media in revealing essential human rights and humanitarian issues as well as the impacts of the conflicts on civilians.
This role must be recognized and supported.
Allowing the media to report on grave breached of international humanitarian law (IHL); including the collective punishment, destruction of civilian property, torture and other violations.
The media has been instrumental in unveiling such violations and challenging the immunity provided for IOF.
Supporting the role of the media in monitoring government conducts and management and combating corruption, which hinders development and undermine human rights; especially the government's ability to fulfill its economic, social, and cultural rights obligations.
Allowing the media to play its significant investigative role and drawing the attention of the authorities to illegal conducts and discrimination in society.
This is an essential role as it helps to ensure proper accountability.
Encourage the media to creatively promote such significant values as tolerance, diversity and pluralism.
It can also play a significant role in abandoning violence and adopting dialogue as a means to resolve conflicts in the Palestinian society.
At this very particular juncture of the life of the Palestinian society, a free, impartial press is extremely important for strengthening political unity and societal textile.
Therefore, Al Mezan asserts its determination to continue challenging all infringements upon the freedom of expression and the work the media, regardless the sources of such infringements.
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