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PCHR demands end to restrictions on newspapers

July 13, 2010 9:23 P.M. (Updated: July 19, 2010 10:14 A.M.)
Jerusalem - Ma'an - The two Palestinians governments must immediately lift restrictions on the publication and distribution of banned newspapers in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights urged Tuesday.

The rival governments have banned Al-Quds, Al-Ayyam and Al-Hayat Al-Jadida newspapers in the Gaza Strip and Al-Resala and Palestine newspapers in the West Bank.

PCHR said it calls on the Palestinian Authority and the Gaza government "to refrain from using journalists and the media in the ongoing conflict between Fatah and Hamas, which constitutes a flagrant violation of the right to freedom of opinion and expression guaranteed by the Palestinian Basic Law and by relevant international instruments."

On 6 July, Israel announced it will be allowing the three West Bank dailies into the Gaza Strip. However, according to PCHR's field observation, when distributors arrived the following day at the Erez crossing to distribute the newspapers, security forces stationed at the checkpoint of the Gaza Ministry of Interior near the crossing prevented them from accessing the terminal.

Distributors were also prevented from accessing the crossing the following days, PCHR wrote. After the distributors contacted the Ministry of Interior in Gaza, they were informed that the entry of the three newspapers into the Gaza Strip is banned as long as the government in the West Bank prevents the distribution of Al-Resala and Palestine newspapers, which are published in the Gaza Strip.

The center said it strongly condemned restrictions imposed on the freedom of the publication and distribution of newspapers in the occupied Palestinian territories by the two governments in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, calling for their immediate distribution.

"These restrictions are futile because the banned newspapers are also available online for no cost," the PCHR wrote, noting that the right to freedom of opinion and expression and the freedom of the press are guaranteed under the Palestinian Basic Law and relevant international instruments.

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