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Police Disruption of NGO Conference in Gaza Is Illegal; Al Mezan Calls for Respect of Association Rights and Free Expression in Gaza

11-05-2008 00:00

A police force of the deposed government in Gaza forcibly ended a conference that was organized by the Palestinian Media, Research and Studies Center 'Badael' yesterday.
The conference was organized under the title 'Negotiations and Resistance, Search for a New Approach'.
The Police forced the participants to leave the conference hall under the pretext that the organizers did not obtain prior permission from the Ministry of Interior to organize the conference.
According to information obtained by Al Mezan from participants in the conference, the event began in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip simultaneously via a video conference link at approximately 9am on 10 May 2008.
At approximately 12:30am, the link was disconnected when four security members, who were dressed in civilian wear and carrying pistols, entered the conference hall in Gaza and informed the conference coordinator of a police order to stop the conference and ask the participants to leave the hall.
Al Mezan Center for Human Rights expresses its grave concern by the termination of Badael's conference and forcing the participants out of the hall.
Al Mezan condemns this conduct as a violation to the rights to peaceful assembly and free expression.
It is also a violation of the Palestinian Public Assembly Law No.
The conference was held in a closed hall which, according to the law, required no authorization from the police.
Al Mezan highlights that the Public Assembly Law provides special protections and measures that guarantee the organization of public meetings without obtaining prior authorization.
The routine procedure for organizing this type of events is to send a written notice to the Governor or the director of the police 48 hours before the meeting starts.
In case the organizers did not receive a written response to their communication, they have the right to organize their meeting freely.
No 'permission' from the Ministry of Interior is required by the law.
Article 26(5) of the Palestinian Amended Basic Law grants Palestinians' the right to participate in political life, both individually and collectively, and in particular '[T]o conduct special meetings without the presence of police members, and to conduct public meetings, processions, and assemblies, within the limits of law'.
Article 2 of the Public Assembly Law states that citizens are entitled to organize public gatherings freely.
It adds that this right must not be violated in any way, except for the regulations stipulated by the law.
Al Mezan Center demands that the deposed government opens a serious investigation into this violation and present the motivations behind the conduct of its own police.
Al Mezan stresses that ensuring respect for the rule of law requires protection of the fundamental freedoms, including the right to peaceful assembly and free expression in accordance with the law.

Tags / #peaceful assembly