(photo credit: REUTERS)
Friday slammed the Palestinian Authority for blocking 11 websites affiliated with rivals of President Mahmoud Abbas.
The syndicate, which represents Palestinian journalists in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, also called on the PA to rescind the decision to censor the sites.
PA Attorney-General Ahmad Barak on Thursday ordered 11 websites blocked including Amad, Shehab News Agency and the Palestinian Information Center, which are affiliated with Abbas rival Muhammad Dahlan and Hamas.
“We condemn the decision to block  media sites, which is a clear violation of the basic law and all media laws,” the Journalists Syndicate said in a statement. “[The decision] is distorting the image of media freedoms in Palestine.”
The PA has defended its decision to block the sites, saying that they violated “rules of publication,” which forbids fake news and defamation, the Associated Press reported.
Ammar Dwaik, the chairman of the Ramallah-based Independent Commission for Human Rights, also condemned the decision to censor the websites.
“Blocking Internet sites contravenes the principles of human rights, specifically the right to freedom of speech and expression and the right to information,” Dwaik said in a Facebook post.
Human Rights Watch warned of compromised journalistic freedoms in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in a report in August 2016.
“The Palestinian authorities in the West Bank and Gaza are arresting, abusing, and criminally charging journalists and activists who express peaceful criticism of the authorities,” the report stated.