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IFJ condemns blocking websites & arrests in Palestine

20 June 2017

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has joined its affiliate, the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate (PJS), in condemning the Palestinian Authority's decision to block 12 news websites and arrest journalists.

On Friday 16 June, the Palestinian Authority ordered websites to be blocked, these sites included the Palestinian Information Centre, Shehab News Agency, Voice of Fatah and others. All the websites affected are critics of the Palestinian government.

According to Ma'an News Agency, the Palestinian Authority insisted the websites were not blocked because of their political affiliations but due to "a number of pending cases for reporting false information and being unethical."
The Palestinian Journalists Syndicate strongly condemned the move to block websites and called it "a grave violation of the Palestinian fundamental rights.

"It undermines the ability of the citizens to access information and hear different views. This decision is practically useless in view of the technological development which allows people to bypass the blocked sites. We call on the Attorney General to immediately lift the ban." 

The PJS has also reported that journalist and union member, Dhaher Alshamaly, was arrested by the Palestinian security forces in the West Bank eight days after he had published a short opinion criticising President Mahmoud Abbas. No charges have been pressed against him so far.

Another Palestinian journalist, Fouad Jaradah, was arrested by Hamas security forces in Gaza ten days ago and is still in detention, the union reports.

The IFJ joins the PJS in condemning "the arrests of journalists in the West Bank and Gaza for doing their jobs and demands their immediate release".  

Several Palestinian journalists have been detained over the last year by the Palestinian Authority, Hamas or Israel for expressing their opinions online.

Philippe Leruth, IFJ president, said:

"Blocking websites and arresting journalists with opposing views is a grave breach of the Palestinian government's commitment to press freedom and journalists' fundamental rights. We call on the Palestinian government to lift the ban immediately and to release our colleague Dhaher Alshamaly."

Tags: , palestine, palestinian journalists' syndicate, israel, hamas, journalists arrested, journalists detained, journalists' rights, press freedom, websites, online, censorship, ifj