The Independent Commission for Human Rights "Office of Ombudsman" expresses its concern regarding the instances of detention and arrest of j

10/07/2017

25/2017

The Independent Commission for Human Rights "Office of Ombudsman" expresses its concern regarding the instances of detention and arrest of journalists and citizens on the background of opinion, expression, and press work

 

The Independent Commission for Human Rights "Office of Ombudsman" expresses its concern regarding the instances of detention and arrest of journalists and citizens on the background of opinion, expression, and press work. Such instances have been repeated in the recent period, which may violate freedom of speech and expression and free press.  

The Commission (ICHR) has been following the arrest of journalist Jihad Barakat after he photographed the motorcade of Prime Minister on  06/07/2017 while he was stopped by an occupation military checkpoint at the entrance of Tulkarm. He was released on 09/07/2017, and the arrest of citizen Amer Ba'loushi by the Internal Security Forces in the Gaza Strip on 04/07/2017 on the background of a jangle on social media page between him and a security man after he published a post on his profile page. The Commission has also been following the arrest of Journalist Fu'ad Jarada, Reported of Palestine TV, in Gaza by the Internal Security Forces on 08/06/2017, who is still detained up to the date of this declaration without knowing reasons for his detention.

Despite the non-interference of the Commission in the performance of The Judiciary and the General  Prosecution, it sees that detention and arrest regarding cases related to free speech and free press may restrict freedom of expression, and that it is necessary not to resort to detention and arrest except for extremist instances, but instead, to resort to other alternatives and measures in coordination with the General Comment No. 34 for the year 2012 of the UN Human Rights Committee in its Comment on Article No. 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which stated that "restrictions imposed shall not be extreme and restrictive measures shall only be coherent with Proportionality Law, and shall perform their protective function. They shall also be with least intervention in contrast to other methods which may accomplish the desired result. They shall be proportional with the interest they protect, and the Proportionality Law shall be respected, not only within the law that determines the frame itself, but also in its application by the administrative and judicial authorities." The mentioned committee believes that "the mere consideration of any form of expression as offensive to public figures is not even sufficient for the justification of imposing punishments." "This is even if public figures are beneficiary from the provisions of the Covenant."  

Article 47 of the mentioned General Comment includes that "In no case shall the criminal law be applied except in the most serious cases, and imprisonment shall never be the appropriate punishment. A State party may not prosecute a person for criminal defamation without quickly initiating his or her trial, which would massively and unjustifiably restrict the practice of freedom of expression the "concerned person or others" enjoy.

The Commission reaffirms that the recent period has witnessed a deterioration of freedom of expression and free press in contradiction to the statements of the President and the Prime Minister, the State of Palestine's commitment to the signed international agreements, and to the declaration of freedom of media in the Arab World.

Accordingly, the Commission demands the following:

  1. Immediate release of all detainees on the background of freedom of expression and free press.
  2. Reconsidering the valid legislations related to freedom of expression such as the law of punishment and the laws of printed materials and publications, modifying them in accordance with the obligations of the State of Palestine according to the international agreements it joined, specifically the necessity of repealing imprisonment punishment or any other punishment that includes the restriction of journalists freedom on the background of their journalistic work, and substituting them with alternative punishments.
  3. up to the time of legislations' modification, the judicial authorities including the General Prosecution and the judges shall not expand in the use of discretionary power in precautionary detention, and that this shall be restricted to exceptional instances which entail a real risk that cannot be met unless with precautionary detention. Precautionary detention shall not be used as a means of punishment, restriction of freedom of expression, and silencing voices.

 

The End