Date: 30 November 2008
Time: 12:30 GMT
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) strongly condemns the attacks against two journalists and a media institution in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. These attacks were arresting the journalist Na’el Nakhla by the General Intelligence Service in al-Bireh on Wednesday, 26 November, 2008, attacking the journalist Ala’a Salama in Rafah on Friday, 29 November, 2008 and warning Ramattan News Agency by the Ministry of Interior in Ramallah and detention one of its crews. PCHR views these attacks as assaults on press freedoms and on the right to freedom of opinion and expression that are guaranteed by the Palestinian Basic Law and international human rights covenants.
According to investigations conducted by PCHR, at about 13:00 o’clock on 29 November, 2008, members of the police stopped Ala’a Salama (25), journalist from Rafah city and reporter for al-Quds Radio, while returning home after covering the Gaza pilgrims story at Rafah crossing. One of the policemen forced Salama to enter a jeep, blindfolded him and took him to an unknown destination. On the way, Salama was beaten by the police. Salama informed PCHR that he was questioned about his work as a journalist and the media coverage that he made. He added that he was threatened. He also added that when he asked the police members to release him because he was fasting and tired, one of the police members forced him to eat a piece of bread that was full of sand. Salama said he was released on the same day.
On another front, Ramattan News Agency suspended its work in the Occupied Palestinian Territories as of 29 November 2008, to protest harassment of its offices in the West Bank by the Palestinian Authority. On Sunday, 30 November 2008, Ramattan issued a press release that reported several recent violations against the Agency. These violations included: preventing Ramattan crews from entering the al-Muqata’a headquarters in Ramallah; raiding Ramattan offices and arresting a number of its staff by the security services; confiscating a mobile broadcast vehicle of the Agency; and The Ministry of Telecommunication request to Ramattan to obtain a good conduct certificate from the Ministry of Interior in Ramallah.
In a third attack at about 11:30 on Wednesday (26 November), the General Intelligence Service Na’el Nakhla (32), a journalist from al-Bireh who reports to al-Jazeera Saudi Newspaper and al-Baian UAE Newspaper. According to Nakhla’s statement to PCHR, Nakhla was blindfolded and bound in painful positions throughout the night; and he went through three questioning rounds on 27 November, 28 November and 29 November, on his work as a journalist and on information that had been published on the internet. Nakhla denied his relation to this information. He was released on 30 November 2008, after he being handed a summoning order from an officer for an interview by the General Intelligence Service on 2 December 2008.
PCHR strongly condemns these attacks and:
1. Expresses its solidarity with Ramattan News Agency, and stresses its independent media role.
2. Calls for investigations into the conditions of the detention of the journalist Ala’a Salama and assaulting him, and into the detention of the journalist Na’el Nakhla and torturing him. PCHR also calls for the publication of the results of the investigations.
3. Points out, with serious concerns, the attacks on the right to freedom of expression and on press freedoms, and reiterates the importance of providing protection to journalists and media and of taking necessary measures to enable journalist to conduct their work freely, as an affirmation of the right to freedom of expression and of press freedoms.
4. Affirms that the right to freedom of opinion and expression is guaranteed under the Palestinian Basic Law and under international human rights covenants.