HRW accuses Palestine of free speech violations
HRW accuses Palestine of free speech violations

Palestinian authorities are violating free speech rights by arresting and abusing dissenting activists and journalists,Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] said [press release] Monday. The report details five cases in Gaza and the West Bank where journalists and activists were arrested or detained by authorities due to their peaceful criticism of authorities. Activists also suggest that court proceedings are used as a means to harass them into silence as they are often delayed and rescheduled due to lack of witnesses, which requires their constant presence at the court. Some detainees claimed they were forced to sign documents promising not to critique the government without evidence while others maintained they were physically abused and harassed by authorities.

In Gaza, Hamas authorities detained and intimidated an activist who criticized the government for failing to protect a man with a mental disability; a journalist who posted a photograph of a woman looking for food in a garbage bin; and a journalist who alleged medical malpractice at a public hospital after a newborn baby died. In the West Bank, the Palestinian Authority (PA) arrested and charged activists and musicians who ridiculed Palestinian security forces for cooperating with Israel and accused the government of corruption. The offending statements were allegedly made in Facebook postings, graffiti, and rap songs.

HRW has called on Palestine to disavow this crackdown on free speech and expression because it goes against their ratification of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Convention Against Torture and laws. The Palestinian authorities deny the accusations

Human rights continues to be an issue in Palestine due to the Isreali-Palestine conflict. In April an Israeli court convicted Yosef Haim for the 2014 murder of a Palestinian teenager that led to a 50-day war in Gaza [JURIST report]. In May the UN Committee Against Torture (CAT), a body of independent experts, released closing remarks to its fifty-seventh session, expressing concern about the use of excessive force by Israeli forces against Palestinians [JURIST Report]. In July a report by Amnesty International called upon Palestinian and Israeli officials to address human rights violations committed by their forces [JURIST report].