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Official: Special judges to hear journalist cases

May 20, 2012 7:00 P.M. (Updated: May 26, 2012 11:49 P.M.)
JERICHO (Ma’an) -- The Palestinian Judicial Authority will appoint special judges to handle lawsuits directed against journalists in a bid to strengthen freedom of expression, a judge said Saturday.

Izzat al-Ramini, head of the judicial courts' administration department, made the remarks during a conference in Jericho on justice and the media.

The conference conclusions also recommended that the union of journalists should be notified of all legal cases against journalists, and a representative should be present during any interrogation.

Several journalists have been arrested in the West Bank in recent months, drawing protests from the journalist syndicate.

"We need laws to clarify the rights of journalists, protecting their work and completely removing the threat of detention and interrogation," said Abdel Nasr al-Najjar, head of the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate, told Reuters last month.

Justice minister Ali Muhanna told the delegates he hopes that laws and regulations related to press and publications would be amended, adding that the judicial authorities should foster and promote a fair media.

During the conference, representatives of judicial bodies, media organizations and civil society organizations discussed Palestinian media, access to information, and the publication of news during investigations.

High court and chief justice Farid al-Jallad, PA minister of justice Ali Muhanna, Attorney General Ahmad al-Mughanni, head of the anti-corruption commission Rafiq an-Natsha, head of the religious higher judicial council Abdul-Latif al-Ayid and head of the military judiciary Khalid Abu Akar attended the conference.

It was organized by the Higher Judicial Council, the PA ministry of justice, and Amin Media Network, and partly funded by USAID.
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