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On World Press Freedom Day

 

 

MADA: Attacks escalate to silence the press in Palestine

 

Ramallah - (2-5-2019). 26 years after the United Nations adopted the World Press Freedom Day on the 3rd of May, media freedoms are still the target of increasing attacks worldwide. Perhaps one of the most dangerous developments in recent years is the fact that many populist leaders who came to power in their countries are fighting free journalism in various forms, leading to an escalation of violations against journalists and high self-censorship.

 

 In Palestine, attacks against media freedoms have not ceased to expand, and journalists and media outlets continue to be the target of a series attacks in order to silence them. The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) last year monitored a total of 584 violations against media freedoms in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, including occupied Jerusalem (455 of them were committed by the Israeli occupation and 129 by Palestinian authorities).

 

When comparing the number of recorded attacks against media freedoms in Palestine in 2018 with the annual rate of occurrence during the last decade, we will note that the year 2018 witnessed an increase of 60% of the overall rate. The attacks did not stop rising during the first four months of this year 2019, where MADA monitored and documented a total of 215 attacks by the Israeli occupation and Palestinians, an average of 54 attacks each month.

 

These figures, the largest of which relate to serious attacks on the lives of journalists, indicate the conditions which Palestinian journalists and media operate in, and the magnitude of the challenges they face to fulfill their mission.

On the internal Palestinian level, the new Palestinian government, headed by Dr. Mohammad Ashtiyeh, announced since its establishment that it would "guard" the press freedoms and make every effort to make the media environment more open and free and promised that no journalist would be arrested on issues related to freedom of opinion, as it stated by the government spokesman, Ibrahim Melhem in more than one occasion where he said in a meeting recently held at the PLO headquarters to discuss the press freedom index prepared by MADA center: “The government will commit to spreading the atmosphere of freedom among journalists, and to help journalists obtain information and maintain the confidentiality of their sources”.

 

The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) highly appreciates the announcement by the Palestinian government of its keenness to respect and protect media freedoms and its efforts to promote this as a general practice. MADA calls on the Palestinian government to work on passing the right to access to information law and forming a higher media council, which considered the most important pillars and structures for the development of the press and press freedom; In addition, the right to information law is a basis for enabling all citizens to participate in public affairs.

 

MADA center reiterates its commitment to continue its efforts alongside all partners, institutions and human rights organizations concerned with the freedom of the press in Palestine and the world in order to protect the media freedoms and stop the impunity of perpetrators of attacks against journalists. It also renews its call for international institutions to work together to establish the International Moot Court.

 

MADA also stressed the importance of the campaign launched by the British Foreign Office to protect press freedom and the importance of the conference to be held in partnership with the Canadian government in July, and the need to reach decisions that protect and promote media freedoms.