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MADA releases first quarter report on World Press Freedom Day

MADA's WPFD poster
MADA's WPFD poster

(MADA/IFEX) - 3 May 2011, Ramallah - Today we observe World Press Freedom Day, which serves as a reminder of the dire state of freedom of expression and opinion in the occupied Palestinian territories, indicated by the dramatic increase in the number of violations committed against journalists in the past year.

Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) director, Mousa Rimawi, today said that in the first four months of this year 82 violations against Palestinian journalists occurred - 31 of these violations were committed by Israeli occupation forces and settlers, with the remaining 51 violations perpetrated by Palestinian security forces in the West Bank and Gaza. This unprecedented increase in Palestinian perpetrated violations stands in stark contrast to 2010, when, in the same period, MADA monitored 69 violations, 57 of which were committed by Israeli occupation forces; this marks an increase from 17% to 62% of all committed violations perpetrated by Palestinian forces.

Rimawi expressed his hope that the upcoming signing of a reconciliation pact between Fatah and Hamas, scheduled for 4 May 2011 in Cairo, will foster an end to violations of media freedoms committed by the Palestinian security services, expedite the re-distribution of three daily newspapers - "Al-Hayat Al-Jadedah", "Al-Quds", and "Al-Ayyam" - in Gaza, and "Falasteen" and "Al-Resalah" newspapers in the West Bank. This slated reconciliation brings with it hopes that all media outlets will be able to operate freely, safely and without politically imposed restrictions.

March events

The month of March 2011 witnessed 34 violations against journalists, with the majority occuring in the Gaza Strip where journalists have faced harsh restrictions and encounters while covering the demonstrations demanding an end to the internal divisions between Fatah and Hamas, as well as the marches commemorating Land Day.

Palestinian women journalists in Gaza were directly targeted during March and faced attacks, verbal abuse, and detention while in the line of duty. The number of the violations committed against women journalists in 2011 has substantially increased.

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Paid holiday for journalists

MADA wishes to send its heartfelt congratulations to journalists across the globe in celebration of World Press Freedom Day, with particular thanks to Palestinian journalists for their ongoing determination to perform their professional duty with skill and dignity in the face of daily risks and restrictions. MADA additionally takes this opportunity to demand the designation of 3 May as a paid public holiday for Palestinian journalists.

MADA demands the cessation of all attacks against journalists, and calls for observance of the right to freedom of opinion and expression in the occupied Palestinian territories. MADA additionally calls upon the international community to take serious and immediate steps to protect Palestinian journalists from repeated violations by the Israeli forces.

Click here to read the full report

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