Palestine: IFJ backs union’s “uncompromising stand” over police attacks on journalists

The PJS President, Nasser Abu Baker, during the press conference held in Ramallah on 13 March. © PJS

The Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate (PJS), an IFJ affiliate, called on journalists to boycott the coverage of Palestinian Authority (PA) news following a police attack on four journalists on 11 March. The PJS’s action prompted the government to establish an investigation committee with a majority of independent members following attacks on journalists Ahmad Melhem, Hafez Abu Sabrah, Mohamed Shousheh and Jihad Brakat by the Palestinian police in Ramallah. They were covering a demonstration against the on-going trial of a group of Palestinian men arrested by the Israeli army, one of whom was killed during clashes last week. The PJS also called on the journalists’ community to maintain a partial boycott of the PA news, particularly the news of the police, until such attacks are investigated and action is taken against the perpetrators. Following the attacks, the PJS board led by the President Nasser Abu Baker yesterday met the Palestinian Prime Minister, who said that his government was committed to freedom of expression and the right of Palestinian journalists to report freely, as well as to investigate the police attack on the journalists. To this effect, he informed the PJS that he had established an investigation committee of three: the director of the Palestinian Independent Commission for Human Rights, the President of the Palestinian Bar Association and the Deputy Minister of Interior. The committee has one week to present its report. Following the meeting, the PJS held a press conference in which the attacked journalists issued a statement to the media on the attack. “The IFJ is fully backing the PJS and its uncompromising stand over the police attack on journalists who were doing their job,” said IFJ General Secretary, Anthony Bellanger. “The Palestinian Authority must put an end to the repeated incident of police brutality toward professional journalists by holding accountable not only those who had beaten the journalists in the street but those who ordered them as well.”

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