In celebration of the World Press Freedom Day, the Office of the European Union Representative and the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate joined Palestinian journalists to highlight the press’s vital role in promoting and protecting freedom of opinion and expression. During the event, 14 Palestinian journalists from across the West Bank were honored for their efforts in covering the COVID-19 pandemic and their significant contribution in reassuring the Palestinian public in times of crisis and uncertainty.
This event came after a competition launched by the EU and the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate under the title “Journalists against Covid-19”. Over 130 journalists submitted journalistic material to compete under five different categories. All categories addressed different aspects of fighting Covid-19 including the evolving narratives around the pandemic.
Free, diverse, and independent media are indispensable. The EU is determined to promote freedom of opinion and of expression, online and offline, as rights to be exercised by everyone everywhere. During the year 2020, the Palestinian Centre for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) has monitored and documented 408 violations in the West Bank including East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip. 215 violations were committed by the Israeli authorities (equivalent to about 53%) while various Palestinian authorities committed a total of 96 violations in the West Bank and Gaza. In addition, 95 violations were committed by social media companies.
Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic was particularly challenging for journalists around the world, including in Palestine. Access to reliable information has been key in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, but it has also shed light on the threats to media freedom and the challenge of disinformation. Palestinian journalists have found themselves at the frontline of combating COVID-19 and the spread of disinformation.
“Media freedoms are under increasing attacks all around the world, but in particular in Palestine, where the situation is increasingly challenging. Today, we see with concern that serious violations are committed against journalists and media professionals, not just from Israel but also from Palestinian duty bearers,” said Simone Petroni, Head of EU Political & Press Section, at the ceremony. “Media freedoms of journalists online and offline should be protected and efforts to combat disinformation should be intensified. This is one of the building blocks for any responsible authority and crucial for a democratic future independent Palestinian State,” he added.