Palestinian NGO: Freedom of expression in the West Bank and Gaza deteriorated significantly in 2015, and included "interrogation processes, arrests, physical assaults, detentions and denial of coverage"
Headline: "MADA: unprecedented escalation in violations against media freedoms during 2015"
"The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms 'MADA' held a press conference today morning, during which announced the release of its annual report about violations of media freedoms during the year of 2015…
The General Director of MADA Moussa Rimawi said that the number of Palestinian violations against media freedoms in the West Bank and Gaza during 2015, has increased alarmingly (192 violations), as it soared 78 points which is equivalent to 68% when compared to 2014, whereas compared to the year 2013 it increased by 114 points which is equivalent to 146%. In other words, the annual increase rate of Palestinian violations during the past two years (2014 and 2015) reached 73%, which raises serious concerns in relation to the manner in which the official authorities deal with the freedom of expression and media in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
He added, the largest part of the Palestinian violations monitored in 2015 took place in the West Bank where 116 violations were monitored (around 60%) versus 76 Palestinian violations committed in Gaza Strip, which is equal to 40% of the total Palestinian violations.
He emphasized that the Palestinian violations occurred for two main reasons: the first reason is the lack of belief from officials and authorities (especially the security service) in the West Bank and Gaza strip in the freedom expression and media, and their refusal to criticism or expression of opinion (different or opposite) and dealing with them as security threatening acts. However, the other part of violations emerged as a result of the division in the Palestinian arena.
The report also indicates that, Palestinian violations came within 17 types, whereas the largest part of it concentrated within 5 types: summoning and interrogation processes, arrests, physical assaults, detentions and denial of coverage, which is equivalent to 77% of the total Palestinian violations (in West Bank and Gaza Strip).
The report noticed that during the year 2015 the arrest and detention of journalists have expanded by the Palestinian security forces, as the number of monitored arrests increased to reach 31 cases (18 cases in the West Bank and 13 cases in Gaza Strip), which is a more than once doubled increase compared to the year 2014 (15 cases).
Rimawi added, legal legislations of media did not witness any improvement; on the contrary, when analyzing the Higher Media Council law, represented a backward step, The law’s enactment and publication has been suspended by the president and prime minister, after a lobbying effort of many media and civil society organizations in cooperation with the head of the department of culture and information in the PLO(Dr. Hanan Ashrawi), moreover they didn’t pass the right to access information nor the audio-visual law."