BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- A leading media freedom watchdog announced Friday it was removing the Palestinian security forces from its annual list of predators of freedom of information.
Reporters Without Borders said the security forces of the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority in the occupied West Bank and those of the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip "have been dropped from this year’s list of predators because the number of their press freedom violations has fallen considerably in the past four years."
But the group warned that "The situation of freedom of information in the West Bank and Gaza Strip is nonetheless still the subject of concern. The Hamas government (recently) banned local journalists from working for Israeli media, and many journalists are prosecuted for insulting President Mahmoud Abbas."
Israel's military remained on the list of enemies of freedom of information for another year.
Reporters Without Borders released the list to coincide with World Press Freedom Day. The updated list names 39 predators -- "presidents, politicians, religious leaders, militias and criminal organizations that censor, imprison, kidnap, torture and kill journalists and other news providers."
“These predators of freedom of information are responsible for the worst abuses against the news media and journalists,” Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Christophe Deloire said.
“They are becoming more and more effective. In 2012, the level of violence against news providers was unprecedented and a record number of journalists were killed. World Press Freedom Day, which was established on the initiative of Reporters Without Borders, must be used to pay tribute to all journalists, professional and amateur, who have paid for their commitment with their lives, their physical integrity or their freedom, and to denounce the impunity enjoyed by these predators.”
The new list includes the new Chinese president, the Syrian group Jabhat al-Nosra, backers of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, Pakistan’s Baloch armed groups, and religious extremists in the Maldives.
Along with the Palestinian forces, three predators were dropped from the list: former Somali information minister Abdulkadir Hussein Mohamed, Burmese President Thein Sein, and the ETA group.