MADA- 10 Years of Hard Work and Impact

PNN/ Ramallah/

The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) was established in 2006 by a group of Palestinian journalists and activists willing to join forces to promote and defend the right to freedom of expression and opinion in Palestine. During the first two years, MADA was run solely by volunteers driven by the desire to support the journalists who face oppression and censorship while carrying out their work. MADA is now formally registered as an NGO, with its headquarters in Ramallah, and operates throughout the Palestinian territories.

MADA’s Programs of Activities

Monitoring Media Freedom Violations: MADA is the leading organization monitoring media freedom violations in Palestine. It watches, documents, and exposes all violations committed by both the Israeli and Palestinian sides against media freedoms. MADA publishes alerts, press releases, monthly, semiannual and annual reports, and special reports on specific violations which it then circulates broadly and helped to reflect the reality of freedom of expression/opinion in Palestine to the public.

Legal Aid: MADA established a legal unit in 2010 to provide legal consultation to journalists, defend them before the courts, and visit detained journalists to bring them support and monitor their conditions of detention. In addition, MADA conducts training courses for a varied audience (journalists, media students, lawyers, judges, persecutors, security forces, etc.) on local and international laws related to the media and the protection of freedom of expression.

Advocacy: MADA organizes awareness-raising campaigns on media freedom and freedom of expression (e.g. End Impunity against Violators of Freedom of Expression, Right to Access Information, Stop Journalists’ Self-Censorship, World Press Freedom Day). Besides, MADA lobbies decision-makers so that they guarantee the defense and promotion of journalists’ rights as well as freedom of opinion and expression through an adequate legislation.

Law Reform: MADA believes indeed that only a conducive legal environment can allow the development of an independent media and to enhance freedom of expression, MADA has been working toward the adoption and enactment of media laws, that are in line with international standards, particularly, it played a pioneering role in drafting an access to information law and promoting its importance.

Media Development: This program aims to develop and enhance the knowledge, skills, and professionalism of Palestinian journalists and media outlets through trainings, publications and studies. MADA has published 13 specialized studies, and the first of its kind in the Palestinian history a bi-monthly magazine specialized in Palestinian, Arab and international media affairs (“MADA Al-Elam”).

MADA’s mission: Toward a free and Professional Media in Palestine
MADA’s Main Objectives

1- Reduce violations of media freedoms

2- Promote a culture of freedom of expression and intellectual property and media literacy.

3- Promote the importance of ending impunity and access to information.

4- Ensure that the Palestinian media legislation is in line with international standards

5- Contribute to media Development , diversity, and independence.

6- Contribute to the advancement of human rights and democracy.

MADA’s impact:

MADA has become one of the top 10 organizations working in the field of human rights and media in Palestine, and is the Number 1 Palestinian organization specialized in freedom of expression and media freedoms.
Despite a very difficult context (Israeli occupation on the one hand, Palestinian internal division on the other hand), MADA is widely accredited for performing its work in a professional, honest and independent manner, able to expose and condemn the violations of media freedoms committed by all sides.
MADA is the pioneer and foremost organization monitoring media violations in Palestine, MADA has exposed these violations to international and local audiences through alerts, reports, and documentary films. MADA’s reports have been referred to by both governmental and non-governmental organizations, internationally/ locally, including the United Nations (e.g. Goldstone Report), Reporters Without Borders, Freedom House, the US Department of State annual Country Reports on Human Rights, the Committee to Protect Journalists, the International Federation of Journalists, The global network defending and promoting free expression IFEX the Press Emblem Campaign (PEC), the Palestinian Independent Committee for Human Rights..etc.
When the Palestinian division happened (between Fatah in the West Bank and Hamas in the Gaza Strip in mid 2007), MADA was the only voice to uncover the severe violations of media freedoms by both parties despite the atmosphere of fear and the freeze of the Journalists syndicate. MADA’s efforts to condemn the negative effects of the division on the media (such as the ban to circulate the daily newspapers) and its campaign and efforts has led among others to the resumption of the circulation of all newspapers throughout the Palestinian territories.
In 2009 MADA was honored with PEC’s Award of Excellence in recognition for its dedication to the monitoring and documentation of violations against journalists especially during the Israeli attack on Gaza Strip.
MADA is the first and only NGO to have established a legal unit to defend journalists in courts and provides them with free consultancy and legal advice. and MADA’s work as proved essential in filling this gap by offering free legal assistance and expertise on the local and international legislation related to media freedoms.
MADA succeeded in releasing numerous imprisoned journalists, and put an end toward torturing journalists (except few cases in the past few years), throughout lobbying and issuing reports, alerts, besides, appeals to the Palestinian president, accompanied with efforts of its partners and journalists.
MADA succeeded to raise awareness on the significance of freedom of expression, through launching campaigns and conducting training courses for concerned actors for (journalists, media students, lawyers, judges, general prosecutors, and security officers).
MADA participated in the International conference/ regional Seminar for Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) that took place in Jordan and Brussels, with participants representing a diverse range of civil society actors from 10 countries of the Southern Mediterranean Region (Shrinking space for Civil Society (including issues of Human Rights and democratization the South region.
MADA published and distributed first legal guide listing all international / local laws related to freedom of expression and opinion.
MADA produced many documentaries about media freedom violations and the last one was entitled ”journalists under fire”.
MADA’s work is also respected by governmental actors. MADA believes it is essential to work with them to achieve its aims, and therefore deals on a regular basis with line ministries, the office of the Prime Minister, ministry of information the Legislative Council, the Anticorruption Commission, the judiciary, etc. MADA is the only NGO which has been allowed to train members of the judiciary and on the subject of freedom of expression .
MADA was pioneer in putting freedom of expression and media freedoms in the public agenda through its tireless advocacy efforts and awareness campaigns. MADA has carried out various successful campaigns to raise the awareness of journalists, political leaders and the public at large. For instance, MADA was one of the first organizations to celebrate World Press Freedom Day through many activities in Palestine and now the date is known and celebrated by many sides and two times by the Palestinian government during Dr Salam Fiad government.
MADA was the first organization to raise awareness on the need to end impunity against those who violate freedom of expression and it participated in the advocacy work conducted by IFEX to have an End to Impunity Day on 23 of November and later adopted by the UN (which was approved by the UN and is now celebrated on 2 November of each year).
MADA is the only organization to raise awareness on the issue of censorship and self-censorship through its campaign on social media and the publication of its studies “The Effect of Media Violations on Palestinian Journalists’ Self-Censorship” and “Official/Governmental Media and Freedom of Expression in Palestine” (which includes a chapter on self-censorship) in addition to organization of two meetings about the subject with journalists in West Bank and Gaza Strip in addition to sending letters to media sections and departments in the Palestinian universities recommending to include the subject in their curriculum .
MADA is the first organization to lunch campaign about digital rights in Palestine after holding three-days training course for journalists from different cities in the West Bank on the optimal ways to implement media campaigns through social media, and will follow up the subject with concerned parties to realize this right, and won the golden prize for the best digital right campaign in the Middle East by WAN-IFRA.
MADA leads the effort to advocate for the need of a right to access information law in Palestine, after conducting a study on the subject (“The Right to Access Information and its Reality in Palestine”) and then prepared a draft of the law assisted by experts and members of the civil society which it then discussed with a wide range of governmental and non-governmental stakeholders. Now there is widespread demand on behalf of CSOs, journalists and the general public that the draft Access to Information law be approved soon, and it is believed to be so in the near future due to the promise MADA received by Prime Minister and Minister of Justice to enact the law, as soon as finalizing and reaching a consensus on the final draft.
MADA was the first CSO, that initiated the commemoration of 250 years of the first press law enacted in Sweden on “Access to Information”, in a conference organized in Ramallah in collaboration with the Consulate General of Sweden in Jerusalem and The Representative office of Finland in Ramallah.

MADA’s impact:

Local and International Membership

MADA seeks continuously to develop and strengthen its relations with local, regional and international organizations in order to expand the scope of cooperation with all the parties interested in the defense of freedom of expression and the development of the media (Civil society organizations, universities, etc).

MADA was granted a special consultative status at the ECOSOC in April 2016.
The Palestinian Nongovernmental Organizations Network (PNGO).
MADA is the founder of the Palestinian Coalition to Defend Freedom of Expression.
The civil forum to enhance wise governance in the security sector inPalestine.
The Global Network Defending and Promoting free expression (IFEX) and was elected to its board between June 2011-June 2013.
the Anna Lindh Euro-Mediterranean Foundation for the Dialogue Between Culture.
Freedom of Information Advocates Network (FOIA net).
The Press Emblem Campaign (PEC) and was awarded the PEC prize in June 2009 for its role in defending Palestinian journalists.
The Global Forum for Media Development (GFMD), and was elected in its steering committee in 2016.
Ethical Journalism Network (EJN)
Member of The Community of Democracies Working Group on Promoting Freedom of Opinion and Expression.
MADA played a leading role in stopping Higher of Media law this year, in collaboration with its partners from media institutions, human rights organizations, Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, and a group of journalists, where president Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Mr. Rami Hamdallah approved to stop the law.
MADA is the only organization in Palestine issued 13 specialized studies on the subjects of freedom of expression and media development, in addition to the first magazine in the Palestinian history dedicated to media freedoms issues and media affairs, which has been highly praised by professionals and human rights defenders.
MADA is at the origin of strong specialized networks. For instance, MADA initiated the establishment of the Coalition to Defend Access to Information (Khabbirni).
MADA is the founder of the Coalition to Defend Freedom of expression in Palestine.
MADA is the only Palestinian member of The Global Network Defending and Promoting Free Expression (IFEX) and was elected to its board in June 2011-June 2013.
MADA participated in the defense of journalists beyond Palestine, signing various petitions initiated by its international partners in IFEX.
MADA participated actively and was engaged in various (International/ Regional/ Local), workshops, meetings and conferences.
Mousa Rimawi– General Director was selected by Oxford University as a member of the Advisory Group for the 2017 publication of the UNESCO report entitled: “World Trends in Freedom of Expression and Media Development.
MADA was also elected for the steering committee of the GFMD, Represented by its General Director Mousa Rimawi.
Finally MADA isequivalent to a U.S. public organization, after it was grantedED certificate last yearfrom the NGOsource.

MADA convenes Annual General Meetings to discuss and approve its administrative and financial reports, MADA also elects a board every two years. The last election was in April 2016, nine board members were elected; proudly to have four female members.

Chairman: Dr. Ghazi Hanania
Vice Chairman: Ms. Sana Aranki
Secretary: Mrs. Lubna Alashkar
Treasurer: Dr. Taleb Awad
Member:. Khalid Darwish
Member: Mr. Nihad Abu Ghoush
Member: Ms. Amal Jum’a
Member: Mrs. Nahid Abu Taima
Member: Mr. Jihad Harb

MADA’s General Director is Mr. Mousa Rimawi

“Special thanks to our recent and past supporters and partners , particularly Open Society Foundations (OSF) our prominent supporter since 2008”