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"MADA": The prison ruling on the “woman journalist” Hajar is extremely dangerous to media freedoms

14/9/2017- The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) denounce the Gaza Magistrate's Court absentia decision to imprison journalist Hajar Mohammed Abu Samra for six months and impose a fine of NIS 1,000. In the case related to a media investigative report prepared by the journalist for the Arab television network more than a year ago about corruption in the Medical Referrals Department in the Ministry of Health in Gaza Strip.

 

MADA expresses its deep concern of this ruling that is considered a very serious precedent against media freedoms, freedom of expression and the role of the press in Palestine. It sees this as another setback to the growing repression of media freedoms.

 

Noting that, the decision was issued in absence of the journalist and away from hers and her lawyer’s knowledge, who learned about it after three months of issuance and only through social media.

 

Besides, the decision of imprisonment against the journalist Hajar, who is currently abroad (in Jordan) for treatment of cancer; which she discovered recently.

 

The lawyer at Al- Mezan Center, Mirvat al-Nahal, who defends the journalist Hajar Harb, reported MADA that she was surprised by the decision against her client, Hajar Harb, and that she did not learn about the trial session, knowing that the decision was issued more than three months ago on 4-6-2017.

 

She explained: “Four charges were directed against my client: 1- libel against the Referrals department in the Ministry of Health of financial and administrative corruption. 2- Publish news about the Ministry of Health without the accuracy / impartiality / non-substantive, which aroused hatred in the community. 3- The impersonation of others by claiming that her name is Mona Harb (as her official name)”.

 

She also pointed out that: “According to Article 403 of the (Penal Code), the sentence should not be imposed on my client because of her health conditions, since she is currently abroad for treatment”.

 

MADA Center, wishing the speed recovery for our colleague Hajar, and strongly condemns this decision, which lacks fair trial procedures. MADA also condemns incitement against journalist Hajar Harb for more than a year related to this case.

 

MADA calls for annulment of this resolution, which flagrantly violates media freedom and undermines it critical oversight role in the society.