Skyline International monitored different cases of arresting Palestinians in violation of freedom of speech and expression on social media in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
A Palestinian court sentenced Ahmed Khaled Hassan a university student, who lives in Ein Arik, west of Ramallah to a year in prison after being charged with “insulting PA officials on Facebook”.
According to human rights’ sources following Hassan’s case, he has been detained since February 17th at Beituniya’s detention center. He has been charged by the Palestinian Public Prosecutor for incitement against PA stipulated in the Penal Code Jordanian Law in 1960.
In the Gaza Strip, Skyline International said that security services arrested lawyer Mo’men Al-Natour and summoned another person, Ahmed Al-Zaem, for Facebook posts that criticized ways of distributing food and meat assistance by government agencies to citizens.
According to available information, on May 22nd 2019, lawyer Al-Natour was arrested, before being released the following evening. On the other hand, Al-Zaeem said he was summoned to hand himself in to the Internal Security Service at 9 am on May 23rd.
“The judicial verdicts and arrests against citizens in light of their posts and writings expressing their opinion in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank are a clear violation of the Palestinian Basic Law, specifically Articles 11 and 19,” said researcher Meqdad Jameel for Skyline.
He stressed that the continuation of the Palestinian Authority to prosecute citizens on charges such as “criticizing/ insulting” officials, is contrary to international conventions and laws, in addition to the violation of the agreements signed by the State of Palestine.
Jameel called on human rights’ organisations to demand the abolition of Article 195 of the Jordanian Penal Code applicable in the West Bank, that relates to “insulting the king or the queen” on which the authorities are basing these charges against citizens and activists.
Skyline International also called on the Palestinian Authority to stop arresting citizens who criticize the policies applied in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, stressing the importance of providing a better atmosphere for freedom of expression, in order to improve the situation and provide the necessary constructive criticism. It also called on the Palestinian judiciary to stand impartially in the face of these issues and respect the charters and laws relating to freedoms and rights of citizens.