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Exposing free expression violations is key to combating them, stress participants at MADA workshop

(MADA/IFEX) - 24 June, 2010 - The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedom (MADA) hosted yesterday the fourth monthly consultative meeting with a group of journalists, in the center's office in Ramallah city, to discuss the media freedom situation in Palestine, and the best ways to curb attacks against journalists.

MADA director Mousa Rimawi reviewed the state of media freedom in Palestine, noting that journalists are subjected to various violations from different sides. Despite the decline in the number of violations during the past year, compared to preceding years, there was a deterioration in a qualitative sense as four journalists were killed by Israeli occupation forces during the aggression against the Gaza Strip. Rimawi further noted that the violations have encouraged self-censorship among journalists.

Rimawi also reviewed MADA's work in the field of media freedom, noting that the organisation had moved from monitoring, follow-up of cases, and the issuing of monthly reports and alerts, towards providing legal assistance to journalists on issues related to freedom of opinion and expression. MADA has been providing legal advice or defending journalists in court when necessary.

He pointed to MADA joining the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX) in 2009. IFEX includes 88 international, regional and local organisations around the world.

Rimawi said that MADA will hold workshops in the West Bank and Gaza Strip beginning in July, focusing on local and international legislation on freedom of opinion and expression.

The participants confirmed that journalists must work impartially and professionally, and stressed the need for a separation between their professional work and their political affiliations.

They also confirmed the need to strengthen a culture supportive of freedom of opinion and expression among Palestinian society. Finally, the participants noted the importance of continuing to monitor and expose violations against journalists as an essential step to reducing them.

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