FPA STATEMENT October 12, 2001
The Foreign Press Association strongly protests the Palestinian Authority's ban on coverage of the Islamic Jihad event at the Maghazi refugee camp in Gaza on Friday, October 12. Palestinian Police Chief Ghazi Jabali, in a faxed message to
media, declared the camp would be off limits to reporters during a memorial ceremony after Friday prayers.
Reporters and photographers from numerous major media organizations who entered the camp were stopped by plainclothes Palestinian officers, escorted to a police station where they were told they could not return to the camp, and then allowed to go.
Palestinian officials approached about this measure -- which directly contravenes an explicit promise to guarantee freedom of the press issued by Information Minister Yasser Abed Rabbo on Sept. 18 -- expressed indignation that the media would wish to cover these events and consider the censorship itself a news item. This comes only several days after Palestinian police closed Gaza to foreign reporters for a day and a half, prevented a photographer from entering Nablus and confiscated audio tape from a radio reporter in Ramallah, among other incidents.
A clear pattern is emerging in which the Palestinian authorities are seeking to prevent coverage of events deemed politically damaging to the national interest. This policy is creating a very serious crisis. We call on the Palestinian Authority to cease attempts to censor and engineer the news and provide assurances that this will not happen again.
Board Member Jamil Hamad opposes the statement.
FPA STATEMENT October 9, 2001
The Foreign Press Association is deeply concerned over the renewed campaign by the Palestinian National Authority to curtail press coverage of events in the PA areas following the US air strikes in Afghanistan. Only three weeks ago, after a series of heavy handed censorship efforts in the wake of the attacks on the United States, Minister of Information Yasser Abed Rabbo issued a letter assuring us that "the PNA unequivocally opposes all forms of media censorship."
Yesterday, Palestinian security tried to prevent coverage of a rally at the Islamic University in Gaza, then tried to prevent the video transmissions from feed points in the strip. Police confiscated an audio tape from a BBC reporter in Ramallah, and a BBC reporter was barred by Palestinian officials from entering Gaza. The FPA has also received complaints from journalists saying they were openly told not to even film any interviews or street reactions regarding the US air strikes.
The continued use of such measures and the PA's desire to control coverage badly undermine the credibility of any information coming out of the Palestinian areas. We call on the Palestinian Authority to honor its commitment to respect the freedom of the press, and immediately end the censorship campaign.
Board Member Jamil Hamad rejects this statement.
FPA STATEMENT July, 26, 2001
This is a statement put out today by the FPA board and to be read by Elias Zananiri at a news conference at which Reporters Without Borders presented a case study of the incidents in which journalists were shot since September 2000 and submitted a series of recommendations to the Israeli government on improving the situation.
The Foreign Press Association welcomes and embraces the report issued by Reporters without Borders. We very much urge the Israeli government to adopt its recommendations immediately. The FPA notes with regret that in the vast majority of the cases described in this report we have not yet been notified of the conclusion of any investigation by the military - even though in some instances 10 months have passed. Full investigation, with serious consequences and public disclosure, would not only serve justice but also provide a deterrent for abusive and dangerous behavior by soldiers.
The lack of consequences for the shooting of journalists _ not to mention more frequent cases of simple harassment _ delivers the message that abuses against journalists are somehow acceptable. This is a deplorable and utterly unacceptable situation. Therefore we call on the Israeli authorities to go beyond general promises and set a binding deadline for a serious accounting regarding the cases the FPA has forwarded to their attention. The FPA should be kept informed at each stage
and the results should be made public.
We also call upon the authorities to issue specific orders to soldiers and police officers in the field to respect the rights of journalists to move freely and to do their jobs without undue interference or any harassment whatsoever. We look forward to seeing these results very soon