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MADRID: Skyline International sends an urgent letter to the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression, David Kay, after the Palestinian Authority blocked dozens of websites without any legal basis.

The international organization sent a copy of the decision of the Palestinian court holding the decision asking them to intervene to stop the attack on freedom of opinion and expression in the Palestinian territories.

Skyline International calls on the Palestinian Authority to stop immediately the decision to block dozens of websites in Palestine, under the pretext of “threatening national security and breach of morality and public order.”

Palestinian Authority Decision

The organization says that it had seen the decision of the Ramallah Magistrate Court of October 17, 2019, to block 59 websites, at the request of the Palestinian Public Prosecution, based on the decision of the cybercrimes law on No. 10 of 2018.

According to the text of the decision issued by Judge Mohammed Hussein, these sites have published posts, pictures and articles threatening national security and civil peace and disturb public order and morals and arouse Palestinian public opinion.

The decision was based on the text of Article 39 of on Cybercrime Law, which allows the competent authorities, if you there are “sites that publish phrases, numbers, pictures, films, or any propaganda or other materials that threaten national security, public order or morals, The report shall be submitted to the Attorney General or one of his assistants and shall request permission to block the website or some of its links.

The article appeared to be loose and give full authority to the executive and the judiciary to determine whether the sites violated security, peace, morality, and order, questioning the credibility of the Palestinian Attorney General’s report.

The Palestinian Attorney-General explained that the reasons for the blocking are due to the fact that the blocked sites are attacking and insulting symbols in the PA, and publishing phrases, pictures and articles that threaten national security and civil peace.

Skyline International stresses the need to respect and protect human rights through websites, in particular, the right to express an opinion guaranteed in the amended Palestinian Basic Law of 2003.

It notes that the Human Rights Council affirmed the right to express an opinion in its June 2016 Resolution on “Promotion and Protection of Human Rights on the Internet,” which considers Internet access a human right and ensures that states and other bodies are not obstructed. The deliberate closure of Internet services and the resolution categorically condemns measures taken to prevent or disrupt access to or dissemination of information on the Internet, in violation of international human rights law, and calls upon States to refrain from such measures.

In addition to violating the provisions of the Basic Law, this decision violates the Press and Publications Law of 1995 and the Palestinian Telecommunications Regulatory Authority Law of 2009.

Cybercrime Law

Article 27 of the Palestinian Basic Law prohibits censorship of the media and may not warn, stop, confiscate, cancel, or impose restrictions on the media except by the law and by a judicial ruling.

Article 19 provides for freedom of opinion and expression in all its forms and forms.

The human rights organization states that the procedures of the Palestinian court are ambiguous, as the Palestinian Attorney General did not provide sufficient evidence to the Palestinian public about the extent of the breach of the sites and pages mentioned in the security and public morals, and the decision can be based on mere criticism of political background.

It confirms that the new ban reaffirms the need to repeal the provisions of the controversial cybercrime law, which was approved by the President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, without endorsing the disabled legislative council or the opinion of human rights organizations, which strongly criticized him.

Skyline International calls upon the Palestinian Authority to reverse the blocking of websites, respect Palestine’s obligations under international human rights conventions, and abide by the freedoms provided for in Palestinian domestic law.