June 8, 2011.
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 last annual report, ICHR said that Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip were subjected last year to an “almost systematic campaign” of human rights abuses by the PA and Hamas, as well as Israeli authorities.
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 web sites refused to run stories about the human rights group’s report,” said one journalist.
He said that the PA justified its decision by arguing that it did not want to jeopardize the Egyptian-brokered reconciliation accord between Fatah and Hamas.
Journalist Mustafa Ibrahim pointed out that the decision to ban PA-affiliated media outlets from covering the story about the report was 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 security forces in the West Bank.”
Mustafa said that 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 ICHR was established in 1993 upon 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.”