“MADA” calls for the widest coalition to defend freedom of expression

 PNN/ Ramallah/

On the World Press Freedom Day, the Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) congratulates all colleagues and journalists in Palestine and the world, and renew the call to form a broader coalition to defend freedom of expression in Palestine by all the relevant organizations and bodies, especially the Alliance for the Defense of Access to Information (Khaberni), the Palestinian Human Rights organizations Council, and the Palestinian NGO Network.

We also continue the efforts aimed to discuss the reality of freedom of expression with all governmental and civil parties, through the round-table meeting which was postponed due to the strike on the last Thursday in solidarity with prisoners in Israeli jails, which we invited to, in partnership with the Department of Culture and Information in the Palestine Liberation Organization headed by Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, also with the Minister of Justice Mr. Ali Abu Diak, officials of the security services, representatives of civil organizations, and interested journalists.

Mada, also announces that it will start its initiation to develop an index for freedom of expression in Palestine, which is considered as the first of its kind in our country; this index will reflect the reality of freedom of expression in our country in systematically and annually manner.

Regionally, we will continue to cooperate with all partners in the Arab world to launch the Arab Freedom of Expression Mechanism in accordance with the decision taken with UN Special Coordinator for Freedom of Expression Mr. David Kayea at Beirut meeting in First of March.

Internationally, we will continue to cooperate with all partners and international allies in order to bring out our initiative to form a “international moot/mock court” in order to “try the journalist’s killers around the world” in informal way.

Today, despite the passage of nearly 25 years after the United Nations adopted the 3rd of May as the World Press Freedom Day on 1993, the status of media freedoms around the world and in the Arab countries and Palestine in particular, is not satisfactory, Where media and journalists are still a target of serious attacks that didn’t stop from escalating, which strengthened self-censorship and weakened the expected role of the media in criticism and control of public performance in many countries.

Although the last year 2016 marked decrease in the number of violations against media freedoms in Palestine compared to the previous year. However, this consider as a reflection for the fluctuation of the pace of field events and general conditions, the trend of respect media freedoms has not witnessed any positive development, which has been evident in recent months and days, where last March witnessed, for example, a very significant increase in the number and nature of attacks against media freedoms (51 attacks), this level considered the highest in 15 months.

On Saturday, 29 April, three days before World Press Freedom Day, 14 journalists were subjected to violent physical attacks by Israeli police while covering a peaceful demonstration in Jerusalem city.

A total of 96 attacks is the number of violations monitored by MADA Center during the first quarter of this year 2017. MADA monitored a total of 383 violations against media freedoms in Palestine during 2016. The Israeli occupation committed 249 attacks (65%), while 134 violations (35%) were committed by Palestinian sides in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The crime of killing the media student at Al-Quds University, Iyad Omar Sajdiya, 22 years old, who was shot by Israeli soldiers, also arresting and shooting dozens of journalists, raid and confiscation and destruction and closure of 12 Palestinian media outlets and printing houses, and the approval of Israel’s “Facebook law” with the “understandings” reached with “Facebook” company to remove content that Israel considers “provocative”, this all considered as the most dangerous and significant violations and attacks committed by Israel in the last year.

As for the Palestinian side, there has been an increase in the number of journalist’s abuse cases during interrogation or detention that considers torture in some times. As well as the continuation and expansion of the prosecutions related to publishing on social media networks, which show the increase in the size of the challenges and risks which face the media and the journalists in Palestine and the world during their work.

At the same time, the perpetrators of all attacks against journalists in Palestine are still free from prosecution, as well as in many countries of the world, which encourages them to commit more.