international NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a report documenting violations against journalists and activists by Palestinian authorities both in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, accusing governments of inflicting “harassment, intimidation, and physical abuse” on detainees.
The group documented five cases across the occupied territory in which two journalists, an activist, and two rap musicians were detained for criticizing authorities. According to the statement, four of those detained were physically abused or tortured while in custody.
The group stated that the recent violations of freedom of speech represented a larger pattern by Palestinian authorities which has been documented by the group over the past five years.
The cases documented by HRW included an activist in the besieged Gaza Strip who was detained by Hamas officials after criticizing the government for “failing to protect a man with a mental disability.”
Another case focused on a Palestinian journalist who was detained after posting a photo of “a woman looking for food in a garbage bin” in order to highlight the dire economic situation in the besieged enclave, while a third journalist had accused a public hospital of medical malpractice after a new-born baby died.
The report emphasized that the cases of activists and journalists being abused while in custody contradicted the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which the PA ratified in 2014, while also violating domestic Palestinian laws which protect freedom of speech.
The HRW report comes a few days after the Palestinian press freedoms watchdog MADA reported that Israeli violations against media freedoms in the occupied Palestinian territory in 2016, were “the highest ever to be monitored in Palestine” since the group started monitoring violations against media freedoms more than a decade ago.