The agreement was signed on Monday 19th November by Minister Ahmad Assaf, supervisor of public media in Palestine, and Nasser Abu Baker, President of the PJS, and witnessed by Younes M’jahed, Senior Vice President of the IFJ.
The preamble of the agreement emphasizes the importance of protecting freedom of expression for a democratic society, the value of public service broadcasting and stresses the need to guarantee journalists' social and professional rights as the foundation for media freedom.
The agreement commits both public broadcasting establishments to providing human and financial resources to strengthen the safety of their journalists and field crews. It includes the development of professional safety procedures, safety training, equipment and insuring field crews against work accidents. It also provides for psychological and moral support to journalists and media workers.
Nasser Abu Baker, PJS president, said “We thank the PBC for its continuous cooperation with the PJS to support its journalists and Palestinian journalism as a whole. Signing this agreement is a form of Palestinian journalism and journalists’ response to the continuous Israeli attacks on them. We look forward to signing similar agreements to guarantee the rights of journalists and to strengthen their safety.”
Minister Assaf Ahmed assured that he will continue to make every effort to develop Palestinian journalism, including improving the social rights of journalists working in public media institutions and to put an end to weak employment contracts from which employees have suffered for many years.
Younes M’jahed said after signing the agreement added “we congratulate the PJS and all its members working at the PBC on this agreement. We are also grateful to the administration of the PBC for their great cooperation. This agreement will strengthen the protection of journalists not only in Palestine, but it will also be a tool to fight for strengthening journalists’ rights in the Arab region and around the world.”
The signing ceremony was attended by several representatives of the PJS, PBC and IFJ, including Khaled Sokkar, General Director of the PBC, Musa Al-Shaer, treasurer of the PJS, and Monir Zaarour, IFJ Policy and Programs Director for the Arab World and the Middle East.
The signing of this agreement took place the day after a conference organized by the PJS entitled “Journalists under fire” in which more than 700 Palestinian journalists from across the West Bank participated. Rami Al-Hamdallah, the Palestinian prime minister, spoke in the conference and emphasized the government’s commitment to protect press freedom and freedom of expression. He also confirmed that the Palestinian government had just finished preparing a draft law on the right of access to information which will be adopted in the near future.
Philippe Leruth, President of the IFJ, also spoke in the conference and called on the Palestinian government to adopt a legislative system to organize the Palestinian media and journalism sector in accordance with international standards to ensure the development of independent journalism. He also criticized the Israeli government’s refusal to recognize the International Press Card issued by the IFJ, which is recognized by more than 140 countries around the world.