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PCHR Follows with Concern Continued Detention of Citizens on Grounds of Freedom of Expression and Peaceful Assembly

Ref: 57/2020

Date: 21 June 2020

Time: 11:00 GMT


The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) follows with concern the continued summonsing and detention of several Fatah Movement activists and cadres by the Internal Security Services (ISS) on grounds of a protest and social media posts on the 14th anniversary of the internal Palestinian division between Fatah and Hamas movements. PCHR condemns these summonses and detention on grounds of freedom of expression and emphasizes that the freedom of expression and peaceful assembly are rights guaranteed in the Palestinian Basic Law, particularly Articles 19 and 26, and shall not be prejudiced under any pretext. PCHR calls upon the Palestinian security services to cease arrests and summonses on grounds of political affiliation or freedom of expression.

According to PCHR’s investigations, on Wednesday and Thursday, 17-18 June 2020, ISS summoned 31 members of Fatah Movement leaders and cadres from the northern Gaza Strip on grounds of posts published on social media on the 14th anniversary of the internal Palestinian division between Hamas and Fatah movements in the Gaza Strip, which ended with the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip on 14 June 2007. The Fatah activists were detained and interrogated at the ISS office in Jabalia for 2 days on grounds of their participation in a protest organized in front of a deceased Fatah movement leader’s house,  who was killed during the clashes that occurred in Jabalia in 2007, as well as on grounds of their posts on social media in commemoration of the 14th anniversary of the internal Palestinian division . All of them were released on Saturday, 21 June, with orders to refer to ISS on Sunday morning.

Last week, several Fatah Movement leaders and cadres were arrested from Jabalia camp on grounds of calling for peaceful assembly on social media on the 14th anniversary of the internal Palestinian division. Moreover, 3 citizens were summonsed, and 3 others were detained on grounds of their participation in a protest organized by dozens of Fatah Movement activists in front of Jamal Abd Rabbo Abu al-Jidian’s house.

PCHR expresses its concern over arrests of citizens on grounds of political activity, and stresses that personal freedom is a natural right that is ensured and cannot be prejudiced according to the Palestinian Basic Law, which also prohibits “arresting, searching, detaining or restricting the movement of a person without a judicial warrant,” and that “whoever is arrested or detained must be informed of the reasons of his arrest or detention.” 

PCHR emphasizes that the right to peaceful assembly is guaranteed in the Palestinian Basic Law and under international human rights standards; stressing that the right to peaceful assembly only requires a written notification to be sent to a Police Director or the Governor according to Article 3 of the Public Meetings Law 12/1998, if the number of participants exceeded 50. Moreover, violating this condition is not enough for dispersing the demonstration or arresting the organizers unless the demonstration included riots.

Thus, PCHR calls upon the Attorney General to intervene immediately to stop such summons and arrests without a Public Prosecution warrant and without any real basis that proves occurrence of a crime or an incident that requires a summons. PCHR also calls upon ISS in the Gaza Strip to respect the Palestinian law and public freedoms and adhere to the Palestinian Criminal Procedure Code and Palestinian Basic Law.