MADA expresses its grave concern of approving jail sentence of the journalist Hamamrah
28th March 2013: The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) expresses its deep concern over the rejection of appeal and approved the jail sentence by Bethlehem Magistrate's Court against Al Quds TV correspondent Mamdouh Hamamrah. Hamamrah was sentenced to jail for a full year, he is charged for publishing an image critical of the Palestinian President, and broadcasting of false news, slander, libel, and dissemination of materials believed to spread the seeds of hatred.
Hamamrah’s case started on September 2009, when he was arrested and transferred to the public prosecutor. He was arrested due to a claim by the Palestinian intelligence service, that they found an offensive image of President Abbas posted on his own social networking page “Facebook” next to a character in a Syrian Drama TV show “Ma’amoun Beik”, as a comparison to the character, who is known in the drama show for hiding his true evil face from a community in Syria and working as a spy for the French. In fact Hamamrah was not the person who posted this picture, or made any comments, and did not share it.
After several sessions, the Magistrate's Court decided on the 7th May 2012 to sentence Hamamrah to a year in jail. MADA’s lawyer Sana A’rinke submitted an appeal to the decision but it was rejected today and his sentence is now in effect.
MADA has confirmed for more than once that the policy of arrest and imprisonment of journalists had become obsolete, and that the global trend is to replace imprisonment with a fine in cases where journalists are accused of libel, slander, and defamation. Mrs. A’rinke confirmed that the decision is illegal, political, and unfair for the following reasons:
1- The absence of a real reason to prosecute Mamdouh Hamamrah, noting that he has done nothing to be prosecuted for under a criminal law, and he had done absolutely nothing to deserve punishment. He was accused and sentenced only because someone else shared an offensive image of the president on his Facebook wall, again a fact that he did not publish the picture, comment, share, or like. So there is no action or doing made by Hamamrah to be prosecuted for.
2- He has been judged on the basis of the Jordanian Penal Law No. 16 of 1960 enforced in the West Bank. This law does not provide an article on online publishing restrictions, prohibitions, and punishments, and this law prohibits any citizen to offend the king and not the President. And according to the law, there is no crime or punishment without a clear and precise legal script.
3- Prosecutors did not provide any evidence against Hamamrah, and the only witness called was the journalist Akram Al-Natshe who witnessed in Hamamrah’s favor, so there is no act or evidence to criminalize the journalist.