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Committee investigating anti-PA protests to submit results in coming days

March 20, 2017 6:08 P.M. (Updated: March 20, 2017 9:37 P.M.)
(File)
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) -- A committee formed to probe “events between protesters and Palestinian security forces” last week -- when Palestinian police beat protesters and smashed journalists’ equipment -- is to submit the results of the investigation by Wednesday, the Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR) said.

The director of the Palestinian organization, Ammar Dweik, said that all procedures of the investigation, which began March 14, would be completed on Monday, and that the results would be revealed “Tuesday or Wednesday.”

Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah announced the appointment of the fact-finding committee last Monday to investigate the "events,” after police assaulted protesters and journalists in front of a Ramallah courthouse, and after a similar protest in Bethlehem’s al-Duheisha refugee camp was also violently suppressed.

However, Hamdallah did not explicitly say that the committee was established to investigate the police brutality.

Demonstrators had first gathered in front of the Ramallah magistrate’s court during a hearing into an ongoing case against five Palestinian activists charged by the PA with weapons possession and planning an attack on Israel -- despite the fact that four of them are held in Israeli prison and one, Basel al-Araj, was shot dead by Israeli forces last week.

The case has been denounced by Palestinians for typifying the PA’s security coordination with Israel, which has been described by critics as a "revolving door policy" funneling Palestinians from PA jails into Israeli prisons.

The committee was said to be headed by Interior Ministry Undersecretary Muhammad Mansour, and would also include Dweik and Palestinian lawyers' union head Hussein Shabana.

In the wake of the protests, Palestinian press freedoms watchdog MADA expressed its “deep concern and strong condemnation” of police forces’ assault on journalists in the Ramallah protest, and called on authorities to “investigate the violation and hold perpetrators accountable,” while noting that perpetrators of such acts were rarely penalized by Palestinian authorities.

“MADA strongly condemns what journalists were exposed to this unjustified and excessive use of force that is breaching their rights listed under the Palestinian basic law, that guaranteed freedom of expression opinion and the right to assemble,” the organization added.

MADA has consistently reported that as a direct result of violations of freedom of expression by Palestinian authorities, Palestinian journalists and media workers routinely avoid reporting on certain topics and practice self censorship.

Violations against journalists documented by MADA have included “certain types of torture” and prosecuting journalists over reports in mainstream and social media channels.
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