SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom - Samir Kassir Foundation

Freedom of Expression Violations in the Levant - November 2020

Friday , 18 December 2020

Lebanon abstained from signing the final declaration of the Ministerial Meeting at the second Global Conference for Media Freedom under laughable pretences, while violations against journalists increased in the country: two reporters and two photographers were assaulted and a writer and a filmmaker were arrested. In Jordan, two photographers were prevented from filming, while two journalists were summoned and a third one persecuted. The Syrian regime services arrested a citizen journalist and a sports journalist. In the West Bank, settlers attacked four reporters and two photographers, while the Israeli forces arrested a female journalist. In the 1948 Territories, the Israeli police questioned a reporter and prevented a journalist from covering an event. The Israeli authorities also renewed the decision to ban Palestine TV and to deport a journalist. The Palestinian security questioned a journalist in Nablus, while the Hamas services questioned three others in Gaza and arrested an artist and a YouTube channel owner. Also, an artist was beaten and a radio show host was fired.

Below is a detailed summary of the violations monitored by the SKeyes Center in the four Levant countries.

In Lebanon, Hezbollah and Amal supporters beat Sawt Beirut International correspondent Rabih Chantaf and photographer Mahmoud Al-Sayed while covering a fire that erupted in Zuqaq Al-Blat (11/24). A young man who violated the full lockdown rules assaulted LBCI correspondent Petra Abou Haidar and photographer George Richa in Maameltein (11/14). Filmmaker Youssef El Khoury was arrested over an article (11/02), while General Security detained writer Makram Rabah at the airport; he was later released upon intervention of a judicial authority (11/16).

On the other hand, Lebanon abstained from signing the final declaration of the Ministerial Meeting at the second Global Conference for Media Freedom under the pretext of “having concerns about some clauses contradicting Lebanese laws,” particularly one that would allow members of the LGBTQ+ community to express themselves freely (11/16).

In Syria, the regime security forces detained citizen journalist Shafiq Al-Hariri for two days in Aleppo over an article (11/19) while the cybercrime police department arrested sports journalist Mazen Al-Hindi in Damascus over insult charges (11/29).

In Jordan, security officers prevented Al-Ghad photographers Mohammad Al-Maghaydeh and Amjad Al-Tawil from covering the parliamentary elections vote counting process in Amman (11/10). Also, journalist Osama Al-Rantisi appeared before the Amman public prosecutor two days after he was summoned over an article (11/02), while journalist Heba Issawi was harshly criticized by Jordan’s Finance Minister (11/30) and journalist Nidal Salama discovered he was called to a hearing over a tweet (11/28).

In the West Bank, tens of settlers beat photojournalists Issam Rimawi, Raneen Sawafteh, Tarek Yussef and Khaled Sabarneh, as well as photographers Jaafar Ashtieh and Hisham Abou Chacra, who were covering a protest against building an outpost on their land north of the West Bank (11/30). Furthermore, the Israeli forces arrested journalist Bouchra Al-Tawil in Nablus (11/08) and, 18 days later, the military court issued a four-month administrative detention order against her.

The Palestinian security in Nablus questioned journalist Mohammad Mona about his work and salary transfer (11/09) and the Ramallah court postponed once again the trial of journalists Rami Samara and Naela Khalil (11/17).

In the Gaza Strip, employees of Jawwal, Palestine’s leading mobile operator beat artist Adel Al-Mashoukhi who was protesting in front of the company’s headquarters (11/09) while the General Intelligence Service arrested artist Mahmoud Khamis Shurrab and Hussam Al-Mansi, a YouTube channel owner for a week because of a party (11/21). The same service questioned journalists Youssef Fares (11/19) and Mohammad Al-Khalidi (11/21) on charges of defamation against the Al-Falah Charitable Society in a Facebook post and the public prosecution questioned journalist Ahmad Said over a publication (11/01).

Also, Shaab radio station administration dismissed host Mahmoud Alloh allegedly for financial reasons (11/21) and the Court of First Instance in Khan Yunis postponed the trial of journalist Ihab Fasfus for the ninth time over “Internet misuse” (11/26).

In the 1948 Territories, the Israeli authorities decided to ban journalist Anan Najib from entering Jerusalem for another six months (11/30) and extended closure of Palestine TV office in Israel for six months under the pretext of violating Israeli sovereignty (11/09). The Israeli police questioned Palestine TV’s correspondent Christine Rinawi because she did not abide by the decision (11/02) and prevented journalist Maysa Abou Ghazaleh from covering a funeral in Jerusalem (11/29).

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