Monday, May 12, 2008

West Bank journalists detained by PA intelligence

Report, PCHR, 12 May 2008

"The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) strongly condemns the detention of three Palestinian journalists and a columnist by the Palestinian General Intelligence Service (GIS) in Bethlehem and Qalqilya towns in the West Bank on Thursday, 8 May 2008. PCHR believes that such arrests constitute an attack on press freedoms and the right to freedom of expression, which are ensured by the Palestinian Basic Law and international human rights instruments.

According to investigations conducted by PCHR and the testimony of cameraman Aseed 'Abdul Majeed 'Amarna, 23, at approximately 12:00 on Thursday, 8 May 2008, 'Amarna was photographing a march organized in Bethlehem on the 60th anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba (the uprooting of the Palestinian people from their land in 1948). When the march arrived in al-'Azza refugee camp, north of the town, a person wearing civilian clothes approached 'Amarna. He ordered him to stop photographing and to accompany him. When that person knew that 'Amarna was photographing for the al-Aqsa Satellite Channel of Hamas, two other persons came and confiscated the camera. The three persons then pushed 'Amarna into a military vehicle and transported him to the headquarters of the GIS in Bethlehem. According to 'Amarna, he was sporadically interrogated about his work until 23:00. After 'Amarna had shown the interrogators a court ruling acquitting him of previous charges related to his work, and after the Head of the Palestinian Journalists' Union, Na'im al-Tubassi, had intervened to ensure his release, 'Amarna was eventually released at 23:30, but he was ordered to refer to the GIS on Sunday, 11 May 2008. The interrogators seized his camera......

PCHR strongly condemns these attacks and:

1) Expresses utmost concern over the recurrence of violations of the right to freedom of expression and press freedoms, and calls for providing protection to journalists and the media to be able to work freely.

2) Stresses that the right to freedom of expression is ensured by the Palestinian Basic Law and international human rights instruments."

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