Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Abuses against Journalists by Palestinian Security Forces
Human Rights Watch
April 6, 2011
"This report documents cases in which security forces tortured, beat, and arbitrarily detained journalists, confiscated their equipment, and barred them from leaving the West Bank and Gaza. .... ....
Security forces of the Palestinian Authority (PA) have arbitrarily detained scores of West Bank journalists since 2009, and in some cases abused them during interrogation in a manner that amounted to torture. Like other Palestinian victims of abuse by the PA’s security services, these journalists confront a virtual wall of impunity when they try to hold their abusers accountable, leaving the victims feeling vulnerable to further harassment and abuse. The combination of abuse and impunity has, according to some journalists, produced an intended “chilling effect” on free expression and led to increasing self-censorship. This report documents how the PA’s Preventive Security and General Intelligence security agencies arbitrarily and repeatedly detained journalists, prevented them from seeing lawyers or family members while in detention, confiscated or damaged their equipment, and in some cases tortured them. In the seven West Bank cases that Human Rights Watch investigated, the harassment and abuse of journalists reflected attempts to prevent free speech and inquiry into matters of public importance, and to punish writers solely because of their statements critical of the PA or their perceived support of its political rivals. In four cases, the security services targeted journalists whom they perceived as sympathetic to the PA’s bitter rival, Hamas (the Islamic Resistance Movement), which controls the Gaza Strip and also counts many supporters among West Bank Palestinians. In three incidents, the PA’s security services abused politically independent journalists who had been publicly critical of Hamas but also had criticized the PA. In one case, security forces arrested a journalist on suspicion that he was preparing critical articles about subjects such as corruption among PA officials. The PA has directed its abusive practices against not only Hamas supporters among journalists but also against Islamist-leaning and independent journalists who engage in critical reporting.
Journalists in the Gaza Strip have also faced arbitrary detention, assault, and other forms of harassment from the Hamas authorities there. The focus of this report is on PA abuses in the West Bank, but that focus is not meant to imply an absence of abuses by Hamas in Gaza. Although reported abuses against journalists have been less frequent in Gaza, Human Rights Watch continues to monitor the situation there closely and includes in this report two cases of abuse by Hamas authorities to demonstrate that problems do exist....."
Download Full Report (pdf-41 pages)