The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) follows up with concern the arbitrary measures repeatedly taken against Hassan Jaber, a journalist at al-Ayam Newspaper, by the Internal Security Service (ISS). PCHR highlights that it is unacceptable to interrogate journalists on mere suspicion and there should be sufficient evidence to initiate an investigation and respect for the Code of Criminal Procedure, especially the measures relevant to summonses’ issuance which is an exclusive power for the Attorney General.
According to Jaber’s testimony to PCHR:
“I received a summons from the ISS on 12 June 2017. I really headed to the ISS office in Deir al-Balah at approximately 10:00 on Sunday, 18 June 2017. They then confiscated my mobile phone and ordered me to sit on a chair with my face against the wall. I was questioned on a report I published in al-Ayam Newspaper, my job at al-Sha’ab Radio when I was the Director there, my relationship with international persons and money transfers into my account from abroad. I explained to them that I received the money for a work I have done and the information on which my report was based was documented. I was then taken to a cell (1.5×2) meters, but returned to the investigation room where I was asked the same questions. After that, they gave me my SIM card but kept the mobile phone in custody. I was released at approximately 22:00 on condition that I return to them at 10:00 the following day. When I went back on time, I was questioned again and was released at approximately 12:40. They kept my mobile in custody and asked me to not deactivate the Viber and What’s App and to buy a new SIM.”
PCHR stresses the right of each individual to preserve his privacy and freedom and that civilians should not be subjected to arbitrary summoning or investigation without any evidence against them. PCHR stresses that summonses’ issuance is exclusive for the Attorney General.
PCHR emphasizes that keeping cell phones in custody and tracking phone calls and correspondences is a violation of the right to privacy unless by a judicial decision from the Magistrates Court. PCHR confirms that tracking phone calls or any apps must be done under the supervision of the competent court according to Article 51 of the Code of Criminal Procedure and Article 17 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) to which the Palestinian Authority is bound as a State Party since 2014.
PCHR follows up with concern the arbitrary measures taken against Journalist Jaber. PCHR also calls upon the Attorney General to immediately intervene to stop the security services’ predominance over the Code of the Criminal Procedure. Moreover, PCHR calls upon the competent authorities in the Administrative Committee in Gaza to respect the Palestinian law and oblige the security services to respect it too.