“MADA” center: 238 violations of media freedoms in 2012, with the killing of three journalists as most dangerous violations
27th March 2013: the Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms) MADA( held a press conference which reviewed the Annual Report on the violations against Media freedom in Palestine during 2012. The conference was held at MADA’s headquarter in Ramallah today morning.
The conference was opened by the Chairmen of the Board of Directors Dr. Ghazi Hanania, who expressed that the past year witnessed a serious escalation of violations against journalists by the Israeli occupation forces IOF, who had no qualms to kill three journalists deliberately during its latest aggression on the Gaza Strip. Dr. Hanania added: "the occupation authorities did not hesitate or flinch to justify its murders, which points to the extent of Israeli disregard not only for the laws and international conventions, but for the lives of Palestinian journalist, thus violating freedom of expression and the most important human right “the right to live."
Dr. Hanania then explained that reporting Israeli violations does not mean the absence of Palestinian violations: “Although we always confirmed that the Israeli violations are the most dangerous and threatening to the lives of Palestinian journalists and the most frequent, but the Palestinian violations are still high in numbers, although they have decreased compared to 2011, where the Fatah Hamas division still constitutes a fertile ground for violations to arise in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip”.
Dr. Hanania spoke to the audience about MADA’s role in defending media freedoms, either by monitoring violations and publishing press releases, monthly reports, annual reports, and special reports, or through the activities of the Legal Unit in defending journalists and spreading legal awareness through seminars and workshops.
Dr Hanania added: “the center resumes its efforts in launching campaigns to strengthen freedom of expression in Palestine and to spread awareness on the importance of the Access to Information Law, where we believe that the enactment of this law will play a big role in strengthening freedom of expression and the journalists ability to access relative information to their work, and strengthen the ability of citizens to participate in public agenda. The center also published two new studies on the Legal Regulations of Media Freedoms in Palestine, and on the Judiciary and Media: Freedom of Expression between Theory and Practice, as an effort by the center to help enact modern laws that are in line with international standards of freedom of expression”.
In his closing remarks, he thanked the Open Society Foundation for its support for the issuance of the report and the monitoring and documentation program, and he also thanked all MADA’s partners.
MADA’s annual report for 2012 explains that Media freedom status in Palestine had no promising signs since the start of the year. As journalists began the year with violations and attacks on their rights, they said their farewell to 2012 with the loss of three colleagues: Aqsa TV cameraman Mahmoud Alkoumi 30 years old, Aqsa TV photographer Hussam Salameh also 30 years old, Executive Director of the Jerusalem Educational Radio Muhamed Moussa Abu Eisha 24 years old.
MADA center reported 238 violations against journalists and Palestinian media outlets during the past year. The Israeli Occupation Forces IOF has committed approximately 70% of the overall total with 164 violations, while different Palestinian sides committed 74 violations, the equivalent of about 30% of the total violations. And in comparison with 2011 the violations have increased approximately about 11.5% (32 violations).
The general director of MADA Mr. Mousa Rimawi outlined the violations committed by the Israeli forces in Palestine, and mentioned that the Israeli Occupation turned 2012 into hell for journalists and Mediaoutlets, where they committed egregious perpetual violations against Journalists, most notably the killing of three journalists, the bombing of media organizations headquarters and journalists’ homes, and the serious physical assaults. Mr. Rimawi added that the Israeli Occupation not only committed awful violations but have also amplified them by %65 with 164 violations committed in 2012 comparing to 100 violations committed in 2011.
Mr. Rimawi explained that the increase in the number and quality of violations is due to several factors, most notably the power of the Palestinian image and word, and the key role played in the world public opinion by the Palestinian press in detecting the occupation violations. The other factor is that the occupation has never been held accountable and punished for its crimes against journalists and media freedoms, which encourages the occupation to commit more violations without consideration to any human rights, and international laws and conventions that guarantee freedom of expression and protection for journalists.
Mr. Rimawi pointed that the Israeli violations were mostly committed in eight areas: Gaza, Ramallah, Jerusalem, Nablus, Bethlehem, Hebron, Jenin, Qalqilya. 70% of Israeli violations were committed: in Gaza with 63 violations, in Jerusalem with 26 violations, and in Ramallah with 25 violations.
MADA also monitored 10 types of Israeli violations: Killing (3 cases), prevention from travel (1 case) bombings (37 cases), raiding (4 cases) closing and blocking of media sites (3 cases), prevention from coverage (5 cases), confiscation of equipment (4 cases), arrest (13 cases), physical abuse (80 cases), and detention (14 cases).
The annual report also explains that many violations cannot be monitored by MADA since journalists don’t commute freely between West bank cities, Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip, for example journalists from West Bank don’t hold permission papers needed to enter Jerusalem nor Gaza, and Gaza journalists are also not allowed to enter the West Bank nor Jerusalem .
The Secretary of the board of MADA Mr. Majid Alarui reviewed the Palestinian violations against media freedoms monitored by the MADA over the past year, pointing out that the state of media freedoms is dramatically still worrying in Palestine, despite the drop in the number of Palestinian violations by 31% over the past year compared to 2011.
Mr. Alaruri reported that Palestinian violations were equally committed in Gaza and the West Bank as each witnessed 37 violations.Most notable tyoes of violations were: prevention from travel, raiding of media institutions, preventing journalists from coverage, arrests, detentions, physical abuse, interrogations, trails, threats, and closing and blocking media sites.
Mr. Alruri pointed that detention is still the most prominent violations that have been monitored as it recorded during 2012 12 cases in comparison to 5 cases in 2011, in addition to the continued policy of calling journalists for investigation and interrogation with 13 violation reported, in addition to closing and blocking media sites, and prevention of travel.
The 2012 annual report: “MADA center noted a clear negligence of the authorities concerned in the investigation of violations against journalists and media institutions, where most cases of violations passed without serious investigation, and the impunity of the aggressors. This creates questions about the statements made by some officials in the West Bank and Gaza Strip regarding their full commitment and support to freedom of opinion and expression in Palestine”.
The annual report contains important details about the number of violations of media freedoms, their types, their dangers, and the cities most vulnerable to violations, per each side which commits violations against journalists in Palestine. And in regards to violations by Israeli occupation, MADA demanded the formation of an international investigating committee to inquire the circumstances relating to the killing of three journalists, and to hold the aggressors accountable for all violations and to pressure the occupation to comply with the laws and international conventions relating to freedom of opinion and expression and the safety of journalists, especially Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and to facilitate the movement of journalists.
And in regards to the Palestinian violations, MADA demanded to Respect freedom of expression and opinion, the end of censorship on freedom of expression, allowing all media to operate freely and without Political restrictions, and to reconsider laws which organizes various sectors of the print and audio-visual media, in addition to the enactment of the Access to Information Law.
The press conference began with a minute of silence in tribute to the martyrs of the press in Palestine and around the world.