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Violations of media freedom in Palestine in first half of 2012

(MADA/IFEX) - Ramallah 8 August 2012 – While new figures show a slight decrease in the number of attacks against journalists and media organizations in the year to-date, the status of media freedoms in the occupied Palestinian territories remains under serious threat, the Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) said today.

MADA General Director Mousa Rimawi said that in the first half of 2012 the Center monitored 102 violations against journalists and media institutions. Sixty per cent of these violations were carried out by Israeli forces, and the remainder were committed by various Palestinian parties in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The high overall number of violations is the result of of Israel's continued occupation of the Palestinian territories, and on-going internal divisions within Palestine.

These latest results are a small improvement on the 113 violations recorded by MADA in the same period in 2011, but the nature of the violations has changed. For example, in 2011 the violations by Palestinian perpetrators
outnumbered those by Israeli forces, although MADA found the Israeli violations posed a greater physical risk to journalists.

According to Mousa Rimawi: "The number of violations committed against journalists and media institutions in Palestine remains high overall, which indicates the on-going deterioration in media freedoms and the oppressive
working atmosphere for journalists. This encourages self-censorship among journalists, who wish to avoid being subjected to violations, including being detained. Sadly Palestine's ranking will fall in Press Freedom Index by Reporters Without Borders.

"We are concerned about the continuing Israeli attacks on journalists who are simply doing their jobs, and the on-going detention of a number of journalists. Israel continues to defy the international community through its disregard for international conventions that guarantee freedom of expression. The international community must immediately intervene."

Mr. Rimawi said MADA Center, journalists and civil society orgnizationsworked this year to take action against a number of media violations, including the prosecution of some journalists and bloggers, and the closure of a number of websites by Palestinian parties with the assistance of civil society organisations, this policy was temporarily stopped through the issuance of a Presidential decision to reopen blocked websites.

However, widespread attacks against journalists in June and early July re-ignited tensions and required another serious push by all institutions and individuals who defend freedom of expression in Palestine.

Mr Rimawi expressed his appreciation for Palestinian journalists who, despite the risks and difficulties, continue to perform their work and report on the facts for the Palestinian community and others around the globe.

Read the full report

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