PCHR Condemns Sentencing Journalist Sameh al-Titi with Imprisonment and Fine on Grounds of Journalistic Work
On Sunday, 19 April 2020, the Israeli ‘Ofer Military Court, west of Ramallah, sentenced journalist Sameh Jabr al-Titi (24), a reporter for the Hebron University-affiliated broadcaster Radio Alam, to six months and 1 day in prison, and fined him NIS 5,000, in addition to 18-month stay of execution for 5 years, if he appears before the military court again on the same charge.
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) condemns the unfair sentence against al-Titi on grounds of his journalistic work and considers it a violation of freedom of opinion and expression. PCHR stresses the legal protection afforded by international humanitarian law to journalists as an integral part of civilians, and that their presence in dangerous conflict areas should not be used as a pretext or justification for targeting, arresting or imposing prison sentences on them.
PCHR documented that al-Titi has been arrested since 09 December 2019 and subjected to interrogation as the Israeli military prosecution accused him of posting false, misleading and inflammatory news on his Facebook page, and photographing the military watchtower established at the entrance to al-‘Aroub refugee camp and publishing it in a report, according to his lawyer Ashraf Abu Isninah. Al-Titi detention has been extended several times. On 01 March 2020, he was tried, and no verdict was issued. The trial session was postponed until 19April 2020, when the verdict was issued.
PCHR points out that this sentence comes in the context of systematic attacks on journalists and local and international media workers by IOF, aiming at silencing the truth, preventing journalists from covering crimes committed against civilians in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), and maintain the Israeli narrative to falsify the facts. In this context, 6 journalists remain in Israeli prisons on grounds of their journalistic work, some were put under administrative detention, others still wait to appear in court, and others were already sentenced, the last of whom was al-Titi.
In light of the above, PCHR:
1.Emphasizes that these practices are an extension of the grave violations IOF perpetrates against Palestinian civilians, and evidence of the Israeli disregard for international humanitarian law, especially Protocol I Additional to the Geneva Conventions; and
- Calls upon called upon all international press organizations to continue to follow up the violations against journalists in the oPt and make every effort to pressurize the Israeli government in order to release al-Titi and other journalists in Israeli jails for fear that they would get infected with coronavirus which has spread on a wide-scale in Israel.