The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms “MADA” expressed its deep concern over the widening circle in arrests carried out by the Palestinian security services in Gaza Strip and the West Bank against journalists and media workers that is accompanied with ill-treatment, torture and psychological pressure, particularly, what was recently monitored by “MADA” against the Journalist Mohammad Othman.
Othman, was arrested by Hamas internal security service in Gaza, Othman is the correspondent of “the Monitor” and Al Araby TV; on Thursday night (1/9) from his home for one day, moreover, he was summoned on Sunday and Monday (4/9 and 5/9) to restore devices confiscated from his house during his arrest.
Othman reported to MADA regarding what he was exposed to during his arrest, “I received a very bad treatment as, I was forced to stand with my arms lifted backwards (shabeh position) “, He added, ” I was threatened to not disclose any information regarding what I was exposed to during my arrest otherwise they will end my future as a journalist”.
Othman posted on Facebook some of what he was exposed to which angered the internal security service, I was threatened more after I headed to their office on Sunday and Monday (4 and 5/9) to restore the devices.
He added “once I arrived to the headquarters I was escorted inside with a black sunglasses so I can see nothing, there after waiting for around 45 minutes two officers showed up; one of them interrogated me on Friday, they started the conversation with a threat accent regarding what I published on Facebook, asking me to come back Monday, I was also informed that I won’t be able to restore any of the confiscated devices under the pretext of defamation against them, on Monday the officer told me after escorting me to the headquarters, I will make you speak, I was held in a long corridor for an hour, then they returned my confiscated devices, we observed installing spy software on the devices”.
This is only one case, compared to all other cases faced by journalists that are subjected to torture and ill-treatment, as the correspondent of Al Aqsa Channel Tareq Abu Zayd who was arrested by the Palestinian Intelligence Service in Nablus, on 05.16.2016 for a period of 37 days in a previous affidavit by Zayd to MADA ” I was beaten strongly during the first night .. was more of slapping on the face , in addition to threatening to displacement to Bethlehem or Jericho and other threats as to arrest my wife , and I was held in a cell . ”
He added ” the toughest part of torture that I was exposed to was forcing me by the interrogator to sit on the floor with my legs open while pressing firmly on the sensitive area while slapping my face for about 7 minutes, this torture was repeated twice during my arrest , the second time the interrogator forced me to sit on floor putting his feet on my thighs asking me to smoke when I refused as a non-smoker, he approached his cigarette toward my left eye, in a way that it almost touched my eye, and I felt its heat”.
Abu Zayd also reported, “over the 37days of my arrest, interrogation was permissible all the time, except for Ramadan, as interrogation times was after breakfast till suhour time (between 8:00pm till 04:00am), I spent 10 days in the cell, including three days without a cover or a mattress, and a day and a half standing on my legs and prohibited to sit down”.
It was recorded by MADA since the beginning of 2016 until the end of last August a total of 16 cases of arrest and detention of journalists carried out by Palestinian security services in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, noting that number of such cases over the past year 2015 amounted to 31 cases, while in the year of 2014 amounted to 15 cases of arrest and detention.
Pressure , abuse and torture are not limited of journalists who are arrested or detained, but it has become practiced on a wider scale and systematic during the call for summon and interrogation which is considered as the gravest violation against media freedoms in Palestine.
We link that to what was stated in the affidavit of Wattan News Agency correspondent and a volunteer at the radio ” Voice of the People ” in Gaza Ezzedine Abu Aisha on what he was exposed to during his summon by Internal Security in Gaza on 16/5 , where he reported , ” since the moment I arrived to the internal security service headquarters, they started interrogating me, the interrogator treated me in a bad way using bad words, asking me to sit on my knees, also asking me to stand in specific zone preventing me from any movement or to look in the interrogators face”.
MADA center strongly condemns, all practices held by different Palestinian security services both in West Bank and Gaza Strip, which are increasing in a systematic way, through practicing different forms of torture and ill-treatment and pressure against journalists during their detention summon and arrest, we also demand to hold accountability for those responsible, we also urge the Palestinian Authority and all Palestinian security services to abide by the Palestinian Basic Law in article 13 which stipulates that “No person shall be subject to any duress or torture. Indictees and all persons deprived of their freedom shall receive proper treatment 2.All statements or confessions obtained through violation of the provisions contained in paragraph 1 of this article shall be considered null and void”.
Moreover, we at MADA demand all Palestinian parties including security services to abide by international treaties as now Palestine is a state member in several international treaties that guarantee respect for human rights and freedoms , and no human should be subjected to torture or cruel punishment or inhuman or degrading treatment according to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) that Palestine ratified in 2014, and the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights that criminalize such practices.
Photo by: Mohammad Othman’s facebook profile