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PCHR concerned by detention and questioning of journalist Abu ‘Arqiub by GIS and PSS in Hebron

Ref: 51/2013


The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) is deeply concerned by the
detention of journalist ‘Omar Abu ‘Aroqub by the General Intelligence Service
(GIS) and the Preventive Security Service (PSS), who questioned him about the
nature of his work.  PCHR calls upon the
government and the security services in Ramallah to respect the freedom of the press
and the right to freedom of opinion and expression, which are guaranteed under
the Palestinian Basic Law and international human rights standards. 


‘Omar Ahmed Abu ‘Arqoub, 24, from Wadi al-Shajna village near Hebron in the
south of the West Bank, works as a presenter for the local radio station, al-Rayah
fm. According to investigations conducted by PCHR, and the statement of the
journalist in question, at approximately 09:00 on Saturday, 11 May 2013, Abu
‘Arqoub made his way to the GIS headquarters in Hebron in response to a summons
for him that had been given to his brother. Abu ‘Arqoub was questioned about
his work, the sources of his information, the nature of the programme ’Israeli
Scenario’, which he presents for al-Rayah FM, as well as his personal
information.  He was released at
approximately 16:00 on the same day. He went to a shop belonging to his
brother, Tariq, in Dura village. Soon afterwards, he discovered that another
summons had been sent to him by the PSS in Hebron. 


Abu ‘Arqoub stated to PCHR that, at approximately 09:00 on Sunday, 12
May 2013, he went to the PSS headquarters in Hebron, where he was questioned by
PSS officers about the nature of his work, particularly a report entitled ’The
Scenario of Prisoners’, and the nature of interviews he conducted with
prisoners who had been released from Israeli jails. Abu ‘Arqoub informed PCHR that
he had been questioned again at approximately 08:00 on the following day.  The investigation was focused on the
materials he had obtained for his report. At noon, a member of PSS confiscated
his laptop and a portable hard drive from his house. Abu ‘Arqoub stated that
the interrogators had forced him to provide them with the passwords of his
e-mail and Facebook accounts. He was released at approximately 17:00, but was
instructed to refer to the PSS headquarters again on Saturday, 18 May 2013.


Furthermore, when Abu ‘Arouqb arrived home on Monday evening, he
received another summons, ordering him to refer to the GIS headquarters on
Saturday, 18 May 2013.


In the same context, Abu ‘Arqoub’s brother, Tariq, informed PCHR that a member
of PSS came to their family home, in al-Shajna village at approximately 13:30
on Monday, 13 May 2013, and ordered the family to hand over ‘Omar’s laptop and portable
hard drive. The security officers refused to show a warrant authorising them to
search the house or confiscate any belongings. They also refused to give the
family any receipts concerning the confiscated belongings. 


Abu ‘Arqoub presents programme, ‘The Israeli Scenario’, at the
Ramallah-based al-Rayah fm. He is specialised in Israeli affairs working for the
Hona al-Quds Network of the Modern Media Institute at al-Quds University.


In light of the above, PCHR emphasizes that: 


1. The right to freedom of opinion and expression is
ensured under Article 19 of the Palestinian Basic Law, and the freedom of
audio, visual, and written media is also guaranteed under Article 27 of the
Law, which prohibits censorship of the media;

2. It is unlawful to arrest, search, imprison, or restrict
the freedom of movement of any person, except by judicial order in accordance
with the provisions of the law, as stipulated by Article 11(2) of the
Palestinian Basic Law. Furthermore, homes may not be subject to surveillance,
broken into or searched, except in accordance with a valid judicial order and
in accordance with the provisions of the law, as stipulated by Article 17 of
the Basic Palestinian Law. Finally, private property may not be expropriated,
except in accordance with the law or pursuant to a judicial ruling, according
to Article 21(b).


Therefore, PCHR:


1. Calls upon the Attorney General in Ramallah to thoroughly
investigate practices by the GIS and PSS officers against journalist Abu
‘Arqoub, including detaining and questioning him, and the confiscation of his
belongings in violation of the law;

2. Calls upon the government and security services in
Ramallah to respect the right to freedom of opinion and expression and the
freedom of the press, which are ensured under the Palestinian Basic Law and
international human rights standards;

3. Calls upon the security services to ensure the compliance
of procedures of search and arrest with the relevant laws. 


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