Palestine: PJS reports 608 cases of media rights violations in 2020

There were more than 600 violations of media and journalists’ rights during 2020 in Palestine, according to the latest report from the Palestine Journalists Syndicate (PJS). The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins the PJS in condemning these attacks and urges the authorities in the region to take steps to end the impunity with which they are carried out.

PJS presenting its PFR to PM yesterday: Credit: PJS

The report documented 490 violations by the Israeli army and security forces, 76 cases in the Gaza Strip by Hamas' security forces and 42 attacks in the West Bank perpetrated by Palestinian security forces.

Among the violations registered by PJS, the most common was the detention of journalists. The report detailed a list of 185 journalists prevented from working while covering events, especially those in which occupation soldiers banned peaceful demonstrations and gatherings.

At the same time, 36 journalists were detained in prison by the Israeli authorities, with 20 of them remaining locked up at the end of the year. Due to Israel’s systematic targeting on journalists working in Palestine, the IFJ submitted two joint complaints with PJS to the United Nations (UN) on 9 December 2020.

Repression against journalists reached its peak in the fourth quarter of the year, when 185 cases were registered, explained by the high number of detentions - 68 - recorded between October and December as the political situation worsened. Sixty-three attacks against women journalists made up 10% of all violations.   

The Syndicate also highlighted the negative impact of COVID-19 on the work of the journalists. The report points in particular at a stifling financial crisis due to media closure and economic recession, as most companies stopped sponsorship and advertising.

The PJS noted a decrease in the violations against journalists in comparison with previous annual reports, even if they remain unacceptably high. The report also acknowledges the Palestinian government’s political will over the last two years to seek to address failings in dealing with media freedom issues.

PJS President, Nasser Abu Baker, said: “The syndicate reiterates it is unacceptable that journalists should continue to be targets of the occupation forces. This year we have begun the process of bringing the cases of the killing journalists and all crimes against them to international institutions and in accordance with international law, supported by the International Federation of Journalists. It is time to put a stop to impunity”.

IFJ General Secretary, Anthony Bellanger, said: “It is crucial to document each and every violation of press freedom in the region and we salute the extraordinary job of PJS in putting it together. International Institutions must now play their role in holding those who persecute journalists to account, and we will continue to support our colleagues in Palestine until justice is done”.