Geneva – The Euro-Mediterranean Monitor for Human Rights sent an urgent letter to Johannes Han, the European Neighborhood Policy And Enlargement Negotiations (ENP) Commissioner, and his team on Friday, 11 August 2017, calling for an urgent intervention of the EU to stop violations against the freedom of expression and press in the Palestinian Territories by the Palestinian Authority.
In the letter, the Euro-Med Monitor called for a re-evaluation of the trade agreements and financial support for programs and projects run by the Palestinian Authority within the framework of the European Neighborhood Policy, and to ensure the PA’s commitment to respect and protect human rights.
"Being the largest donor for the PA, the European Union is urged to exert pressure and intervene to end violations against Palestinian journalists, by the Palestinian security services in the West Bank,” said a spokesperson for the Euro-Med Monitor.
The PA’s security services currently detain eight Palestinian journalists, five of whom were arrested in the last two days after raiding their homes and confiscating their personal computers. Under the new passed electronic crimes legislation, the PA’s detention of those journalists was further extended.
The recent arbitrary measures and persecution of journalists while exercising their national and professional duty are under no circumstance acceptable. The Euro-Med spokesperson added, “This infringement of public freedoms and the freedom of the press, guaranteed by the Palestinian Basic Law and the international agreements signed by the Palestinian Authority during the past two years, has a negative impact on the status of human rights in the West Bank.”
The escalation of journalists’ arrests in the West Bank comes after the decision issued by the Attorney General a few weeks ago to block more than 30 electronic news sites in a serious violation of laws and charters that guarantee the freedom of press and criminalizes assault or violations against press workers. Journalists’ arrests came also after President Mahmoud Abbas recently approved the law of “cybercrime,” which legalizes restrictions on journalists and activists on social media sites and constitutes a serious violation of freedom of opinion and expression.
The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor stressed that such practices by the PA constitute unjustified violations and restrictions on public freedoms in the West Bank, which are guaranteed by the Palestinian Basic Law and the international human rights conventions to which the State of Palestine has acceded. Also, to put an end to these practices, urgent European intervention is required.