'PA bans journalists from reporting human rights abuses'

Palestinian journalists say PA forbidding to publicize findings of ICHR report on torture, arrests, arbitrary detentions by PA, Hamas.

PA Police 311 (photo credit: REUTERS)
PA Police 311
(photo credit: REUTERS)

The Palestinian Authority has banned Palestinian journalists from reporting about the findings of the Independent Commission for Human Rights concerning abuse of human rights by the PA and Hamas.
In its most recent annual report, the commission said that Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip were subjected in 2010 to an “almost systematic campaign” of human rights abuses by the PA and Hamas, as well as by Israeli authorities.
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According to the report, security forces belonging to the PA and Hamas were responsible for torture, arrests and arbitrary detentions.
Palestinian journalists complained that the PA leadership issued instructions to their editors forbidding them from reporting about the findings of the report.
“We were surprised that all the newspapers and news websites refused to run stories about the human rights group’s report,” said one journalist.
He said the PA justified its decision by arguing that it did not want to jeopardize the Egyptianbrokered reconciliation accord between Fatah and Hamas.
Journalist Mustafa Ibrahim pointed out that the decision to ban PA-affiliated media outlets from covering the report came in the context of violations and assaults against freedom of media and journalists in the West Bank.
“Assaults on journalists and censorship and restrictions on freedom of expression are still a dreadful nightmare for the journalists,” he said. “Journalists avoid covering events out of fear of being targeted or arrested by [Palestinian] security forces in the West Bank.”
Ibrahim said many journalists were assaulted “physically and morally” and had their cameras destroyed and confiscated by members of the PA security forces while carrying out their duties.
The Ramallah-based Independent Commission for Human Rights was established in 1993 via a presidential decree by Yasser Arafat.
The decree states that the group’s mission is “to follow-up and ensure that different Palestinian laws, by-laws and regulations, and the work of various departments, agencies and institutions of the State of Palestine and the PLO meet the requirements for safeguarding human rights.”