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PCHR Expresses Concern about the Summons and Arrest of a Number of Journalists by Internal Security Services in Gaza

Ref: 5/2013

 

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) expresses concern
about the summons and arrest of a number of journalists by Internal Security
Services (ISS) in Gaza during the past two days. PCHR calls upon the government
in Gaza to respect the rights to freedom of opinion and expression and the
freedom of the press, which are guaranteed according to the constitution, as
well as the relevant international human rights standards.


According to investigations conducted by PCHR, over the past two
days a number of journalists, who work in print and electronic media, were
summonsed by the ISS in Gaza and the central Gaza Strip. A number of the
journalists’ houses were searched and their PCs confiscated.


At approximately 15:00 on Monday, 21 January 2013, ISS officers
raided and searched the house of Ashraf Jamal Abu Khseiwan, 32, a journalist who
works for al-Ketab satellite channel, in Deir al-Balah. They confiscated
documents related to his work. At approximately 18:00, the ISS returned to the
same house and arrested Abu Khseiwan.


At approximately 18:40 on the same day, ISS officers arrived at the
home of Monir Jom’a al-Monirawi, 38, a journalist who works for a number of
news agencies. Al-Monirawi is also a manager of the Gaza branch of the Journalists’
Union, which belongs to the Journalists’ Union in Ramallah. Al-Monirawi was
arrested from his home in Deir al-Balah. ISS officers also searched the house
and confiscated some documents and a laptop.


At approximately 23:00 on the same day, ISS officers arrested
Mostafa Mohammed Meqdad, 34, from al-Sheikh Redwan neighborhood in Gaza City, a
journalist who works for the Fatah Youth website. They confiscated his PC.
Around the same time, ISS officers arrested Jom’a Adnan Shawamra, 29, from
al-Shati’ refugee camp, west of Gaza City, a journalist who works for al-Hurriya
radio.


At approximately 22:00 on Tuesday, 22 January 2013, ISS officers
arrested Omar Mohammed al-Dahoudi, a journalist, as he was leaving a media office
building in Tal al-Hawa, south of Gaza City. In addition, they confiscated his
PC.


At approximately 09:00 on Wednesday, 23 January 2013, Hussein Abdul
Jawwad Karsou’, 37, a journalist working for Aswar press website, and Abdul
Karim Fat’hi Hejji, 22, also a journalist, presented themselves at the ISS head
office in Ansar military compound, west of Gaza City, in response to a summons
they had received. The 2 journalists, both from Gaza City, were questioned
about personal information and the nature of their political affiliation. They
were released, and given another 2 summons date on 30 January 2013.


At approximately 10:30 on the same day, the journalist Majdi Abdul
Aziz Isleem, 29, was arrested by the ISS officers, who raided and searched his
house, which is located near the Jordanian Hospital in the Tal al-Hawa neighbourhood
in Gaza City. They also confiscated his PC and a number of documents.

Following these incidents, the Palestinian Ministry of Interior in
Gaza today issued a press release, titled "We Arrested Suspects Planning
to Fail the Reconciliation Efforts". 
The press release read as follows: "The summons of a number of
persons with different jobs was to question them on certain issues that
threaten the security of the community […]" The Ministry added,
"Those persons are not journalists at all. Even those who work as
journalists use this field as a cover to carry out suspicious acts."


Earlier this afternoon, the Ministry of Interior invited
representatives of human rights organizations in Gaza to attend a meeting in the
presence of Islam Shahwan, spokesperson of the Ministry, who informed the attendees
of the decision to release the arrested journalists later this evening.


PCHR is concerned about these incidents, and:


1- Calls upon the government in Gaza to
respect the rights to freedom of opinion and expression and the freedom of the
press, which are guaranteed according to the constitution, as well as the
relevant international human rights standards;


2- Calls upon the Palestinian Internal
Security Services to follow the correct procedures related to the arrest of
persons and searching of houses and to abide by the relevant Palestinian laws
in carrying out their duties; and


3- Highlights the freedom of persons working
in all types of media, which is protected under Article 27, Paragraph 2 of the
Palestinian Basic Law, in addition to the right to freedom of opinion, which is
guaranteed under Article 19 of the same law.