The Ministry of Information in Gaza has prohibited the holding of a conference of the International Federation of Journalists in Gaza City.
The conference activities have continued in the West Bank.
The International Federation of Journalists convened the conference to launch an initiative entitled “Ethical Journalism” which aims to set standards for journalism in Palestine.
The general coordinator of the International Federation of Journalists, journalist Munier Zaa’rour told Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights that at approximately 10am on Monday 9 November 2009 the Ministry of Information called the management of Roots Restaurant in Gaza City where the conference was being held and told them to cancel the conference.
The restaurant management informed the conference organizers about this decision.
The conference activities were planned to take place over two days in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank and linked by video conference.
Al Mezan expresses grave concern about the banning of the conference of the International Federation of Journalists in the Gaza Strip.
This decision seriously violates the rights to free expression and peaceful assembly especially as the participants and organizers of the conference are journalists.
It also violates the Public Meetings Law No.
12 of 1998; as the conference was to be held in a closed hall the organizers are not required to notify the police.
The Public Meetings Law provides special protection and procedures that uphold the right of citizens to organize public meetings without prior permission.
These special procedures are limited to the submission of a written notice to a governor or the chief of police at least 48 hours before convening a public meeting; if the meeting organizers do not receive a written response they have the right to hold their meeting at the determined time.
Al Mezan views this decision as a violation of Clause 5 of Article 26 of the Amended Basic Law which upholds the rights of Palestinians to participate in political activities as individuals or groups, hold personal meetings without police presence and hold public meetings without breaking the law.
Article 2 of the Public Meetings Law states 'Without prejudice to the articles of this law, citizens have the right to convene public meetings, seminars, and peaceful demonstrations and marches freely, and these rights are not subject to any restrictions.
' Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights calls for an investigation into the aforementioned incident as it violates public freedoms and for the reasons for the banning of the conference to be explained publicly.
Al Mezan asserts that the rule of law ensures the protection of fundamental rights and especially the Palestinians right to peaceful assembly and freedom expression.