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Demands to withdraw the Media Council Law

Ramallah-19/01/2016- NGOs, journalists, and human right activists, who participated in open meeting, organised by Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms "MADA" on Monday, 18th of January 2016, call to the need of not publishing the Higher Council of Media law  in the official newspapers, rather than issuing a presidential decision to withdraw it before it would come into force, due to containing many defects  undermining the essence idea for establishing a Higher Council of Media, in addition to terminating its contents since containing many contraventions against Palestinian Basic Law as well as containing articles that violate media freedoms ( the law was signed as presidential decree recently and it wasn’t issued officially) .

 

Hence, the meeting were attended by: representatives from the Department of Culture and Information at Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO), Media Development Centre at Birziet University, Al-Haq Organization,  the Civil Commission for the Judiciary Independence “Istiqlal”, Palestinian Journalistic Syndicate, Bisan Centre for Research and Development, Palestinian Women’s Affaire, The Human Rights and Democracy Media Centres “Shams”, Karter Centre, Political Youth Forums, Women’s Centre for Legal aid and counselling (WCLAC), and many other representatives of newspapers and media outlets human rights activists.  

 

Accordingly, the participants affirms the need to work on establishing a lobby, including an extent number of civil society institutions, especially media and human rights organizations, for the sake of  withdrawing that law , particularly as it is fundamentally opposed the previous version of the draft law that had been working on it over the past years.  

 

 

At the beginning, Mousa Rimawi- the general director of MADA- opened the meeting by indicating that this law, unfortunately, doesn't meet the ambitions of Palestinian people and media, despite of that there were many civil and governmental organizations exerted great efforts to prepare a draft that enhancing the freedom of expression, as it may cause a great change regarding the performance of Palestinian media outlets, which are facing many problems,  particularly the constant violations against journalists and media outlets, especially last months of the previous year.

 

Rimawi also affirms that Palestine signed many international conventions, therefore,  its Law must be inline with international standards, including the law of Higher Council for Media, which which supposed to enhance  media freedoms and plurality.

Majed Arrori- a journalist and human right researcher- indicated that the law of higher Council for media helps in “consecrating the governmental control over the council”.

 

Thus, Arrori clarified that the idea of establishing a Higher council for media is based on forming an independent body, which helps in enhancing the independence of media outlets, rather than developing their performance. However, the articles of that law terminate the essence objectives and actions of the desired council.

 

Hence, Arrori indicated a number of defects that undermine the desired objective of the efforts that exerted during last years for establishing a Higher Council for Media. The first one is the structure of the council, which will clearly be formed by members from Palestinian government, which lead to be controlled by Executive Authority. Moreover, the transformation of the workers of Ministry of Information to that council, and not mentioning the the elimination of the Ministry of Information, and the contradiction of the law with the Palestinian Basic Law which one of its articles 27 stipulate: “No warning, suspension, confiscation, cancellation, or restrictions shall be imposed on media outlets  except by law, and in accordance with a judicial order”.

 

 Participants highlighted the shortcomings of that law, rather than it violate freedom of expression, and the independent of media outlets, as well as undermining their ability to monitoring of the public bodies. On another hand, they described what happiness as formal change of  Ministry of Information to be under the name of Higher Council for Media, without any fundamental change regards its mission or its essence.

 

Consequently, the participants decided to formularize an official paper regarding that law, rather than assigning Al-Haq organization, with a cooperation of participated institutions, to prepare that paper, in order to present it in another meeting that will be organized by Media Development Center at Birziet University at the end of this week.

 

Furthermore, they call Palestinian Journalistic Syndicate to issue a release demanding to not publish the law. Hence, a representative from Palestinian Journalistic Syndicate affirms that the syndicate sent a verbal message to the presidential office,  asking to not approve the law.