Every year on 3 May, Palestinian and international journalists celebrate the World Press Freedom Day. It is an occasion to emphasize the importance of respect of freedom of the press and its important role in promoting and defending human rights. It is also an occasion to expose the systematic and grave violations committed against Palestinian journalists.
On this World Press Freedom Day, Al Mezan Center for Human Rights (Al Mezan) reaffirms the role of the press in the society. Al Mezan stresses that journalist must be allowed to carry out their work freely, and exercise freedom of expression, as stated in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Articles 19 and 27 of the Amended Palestinian Basic Law, and Article 2 of the Palestinian Law No. 9 of 1995 on Printing and Publishing. Furthermore, in times of armed conflict, journalists are considered civilians and must be granted due protection, as stated in Article 79 of Additional Protocol I to the 1949 Geneva Conventions.
Palestinian journalists are constantly facing death and injury, as well as arrests involving degrading treatment and destruction or confiscation of equipment. Furthermore, many obstacles are placed in front of journalists seeking to obtain permits to facilitate their work or trying to establish new media outlets.
According to Al Mezan’s documentation, in the one year period from 3 May 2015 till the same date in 2016, Israeli forces assaulted 18 Journalists in 20 separate incidents in the Gaza Strip, while continuing to infringe the rights of journalists in the West Bank and Jerusalem. In Gaza, Al Mezan documented 21 incidents of violations against journalists by local authorities, leading to 12 cases of detention.
The Israeli and internal violations against the Palestinian population require exceptional efforts and coordination from journalists in order to be disclosed and reported on effectively. Al Mezan calls upon Palestinian journalists to unite and put pressure on political actors to end the internal Palestinian schism, which is contributing to the repression of voices and to violations against the freedom of opinion and expression, the right of access to information, and the freedom of Press through imposing tight restrictions of the aforementioned rights.
On this occasion, Al Mezan reiterates its calls as follows: