In recent weeks, more journalists and human rights activists have been arrested by the Palestinian authorities. The new and controversial "law against electronic crime" provides the basis for this.
"The arrest of Palestinian human rights defender Issa Amro, who previously criticized the Palestinian authorities on Facebook, is a shameless attack on freedom of expression," Amnesty International said.
Issa Amro, head of the organisation "Youth Against Settlements", which documents human rights violations by the Israeli military and settlers in Hebron, was arrested by the Palestinian security forces around noon on 4 September 2017. He had previously posted comments on his Facebook page criticizing the arrest of a local radio journalist by the same Palestinian security forces.
The reasons for the arrest of the Palestinian journalist Tariq Abu Zaid, who works for Al-Aqsa TV, a channel close to Hamas, were also deeply contradictory. At first it was said that his arrest was a retaliation for the arrest of a journalist close to Fatah in Gaza. Later it was said that Abu Zaid was arrested due to the new law against electronic crime.
Abu Zaid is not the sole objective of the Palestinian security services. He is one of five journalists arrested on a single day last month.
Tariq Abu Zaid - who, like other journalists, will appear in court in the coming months - says: "It's getting worse every month. The Palestinian Authority wants to silence journalists."
New law introduced
Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority (PA), introduced a new law to combat electronic crime in July. Although Palestinian Justice Minister Ahmad Barak stressed that the law should not punish criticism of the "Palestinian government, the president, the official or political parties", critics say that it is used precisely for this purpose.
Amnesty International makes it clear in a recent report that the PA has intensified its repression of freedom of expression in recent months.
The new law, restrictions on freedom of expression and arrests represent a major step backwards and endanger the work of journalists and human rights defenders.
- Palestinian authorities arrest activist in growing free speech crackdown (Guardian, 05.09.17)
- Palestinian journalists face crackdown as Abbas tightens grip on media (Guardian, 03.09.17)