The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has joined its affiliate, the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate (PJS), in condemning the clamp down on media following the decision of the Palestinian Authority to block 12 Palestinian news websites and to arrest several journalists.
Palestinian authorities ordered on 16 June the blocking of twelve web sites, including the sites of the Palestinian Information Center, the Shehab News Agency, the Voice of Fatah and others. All web sites concerned by the measure are critics of the Palestinian government.
According to Ma'an News Agency, Palestinian authorities insisted that the web sites were not blocked because of their political affiliations but due to “a number of pending cases for reporting false information and being unethical.”
The PJS strongly condemned the blocking of the twelve news websites and called it “a grave violation of the Palestinian fundamental rights.” “It undermines the ability of the citizens to access information and hear different views. This decision is practically useless in view of the technological development which allows people to bypass the blocked sites. We call on the Attorney General to immediately lift the ban, ” added the PJS.
The PJS has also reported that journalist and union member Dhaher Alshamaly was arrested by the Palestinian security forces in West Bank eight days after he had published a short opinion criticising President Mahmoud Abbas. No charges have been pressed against him so far.
Another Palestinian journalist Fouad Jaradah was arrested by Hamas security forces in Gaza ten days ago and is still in detention, the union reports.
The IFJ joins the PJS in condemning “the arrests of journalists in the West Bank and Gaza for doing their jobs and demands their immediate release.” Several Palestinian journalists were detained during the last year by the PA, Hamas or Israel authorities for expressing their opinions on-line.
The IFJ president Philippe Leruth said: “Blocking web sites and arresting journalists with opposing views is a grave breach of the Palestinian government’s commitment to press freedom and journalists’ fundamental rights. We call on the Palestinian government to lift the ban immediately and to release our colleague Dhaher Alshamaly.”