Both Palestinian Authority and Hamas have been accused of jailing and torturing journalists critical of Palestinian policies in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
Human Rights Watch announced yesterday that documents gathered since August 30 revealed five instances of rights abuses against journalists.
“The governments in both areas arrest and try to silence those who criticize the authorities and it is having a chilling effect on free speech and public debate on important issues like health, corruption, poverty and politics,” Sari Bashi, the Israel/Palestine Director of HRW said.
“In both places (Gaza and the West Bank), people are being jailed for raising important public issues. We think that peaceful speech shouldn’t be criminalized,” Bashi added.
Two rappers and another activist, according to Bashi, were accused of insulting and criticizing authorities and working with Israel.
Another journalist criticized Hamas for not helping a disabled man, and a female journalist who exposed malpractice in a hospital, according to a report in today’s Jerusalem Post.
All were arrested and detained.
Four of the five claim to have been tortured.
All have since been released.
Three are facing criminal charges.
This report is the most recent in a series issued by HRW, which first accused the Western-backed Palestinian Authority and the Islamist Hamas of violating free press rights in the West Bank and Gaza in 2011.
Hamas and the Palestinian Authority are serial violators of constitutional law and free speech on the West Bank and in Gaza according to HRW.