Geneva - Violations by Middle East governments were discussed during the 35th session of the Human Rights Council by the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor in several events, the latest of which was on June 19th. The Euro-Med Monitor and COJEP International both brought to the attention of the Council the recent escalation in oppressing the right to freedom of expression.

“As soon as the Arab Gulf diplomatic crisis erupted, several governments imposed an atmosphere of fear among citizens,” Ghada Rayyan, from the Euro-Med, said in a joint statement. “Civil liberties were limited and censored, and dozens of arbitrary restrictions were applied to journalists and media outlets. Some media organizations have been shut down.”

In the statement, the two international organizations referred to Israel’s consistent violation of the rights of Palestinian journalists, including through inciting against them. On the other hand, the Palestinian Authority was, too, criticized for its increasing oppression of freedom of expression. “The PA has closed and censored various online and print media outlets, and it systematically cuts the salaries of parliament deputies speaking loudly of their opposition,” Rayyan said.

Representatives present in the Council were reminded that basic rights and civil liberties cannot be compromised but in extremely critical security conditions. These rights include at their core that to freedom of expression, which is violated by campaigns criminalizing and demonizing the work of journalists and media organizations.

At the end, the Euro-Med Monitor and COJEP called on the Human Rights Council and Member States to lobby governments in the Middle East to stop their oppression of the right to freedom of expression, to cease the policy of silencing opposition and fearmongering, and on these Arab countries to comply with their obligations under international law.