Palestinian Officials Accused of Torturing, Jailing Journalists

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The Jerusalem Post reports: Journalists critical of Palestinian policies in the West Bank and Gaza Strip have been imprisoned and tortured according to Human Rights Watch (HRW), a New York-based NGO devoted to human rights activism. HRW released a report August 30 documenting five instances of rights abuses against journalists.

According to HRW, officials in the West Bank and Gaza have a long history of clamping down on journalists and restricting freedom of the press by arresting, torturing and bringing criminal charges against them.

“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.

Those documented in the report include two rappers and another activist accused of insulting the authorities and working with Israel, an activist who criticized the Hamas government for not helping a mentally disabled man, and a female journalist who exposed malpractice in a hospital. All were arrested and detained and four of the five were tortured. All have since been released; however, three are facing criminal charges.

“In both places, people are being jailed for raising important public issues. We think that peaceful speech shouldn’t be criminalized,” Bashi added.

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