Date: 25 Oct 2019
The International Commission (ICSPR) issues a briefing note about the Ramallah Magistrate’s Court’s decision to block 59 websites
Occupied Palestine / Gaza: The International Commission to Support Palestinians’ Rights (ICSPR) confirmed that the Ramallah magistrate court’s decision to block 59 websites is an extension of the policy of exclusivity and exclusion practiced by the Presidency and the Palestinian government against public and press freedoms, and an extension of a series of successive restrictions within a systematic framework it practices against Palestinians who seek to exercise or promote the exercise of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, and it is practiced against journalists or other media professionals and press and media institutions.
During the briefing note addressed to the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, today Friday, October 25, 2019. Where ICSPR called for swift action to publicly transmit this note to member states of the Human Rights Council, which may constitute a positive factor to pressure the National Authority to end this policy, legislation, and procedures that undermine opportunities for realizing and exercising the right to freedom of opinion and expression.
According to information available to the International Commission, the Ramallah Magistrate’s Court headed by Judge Muhammad Hussein decided to approve the Public Prosecution’s request No. 12 of 2019 to block 59 websites, under the pretext of the prosecution that these websites attacked and insulted symbols in the National Authority. Likewise, its publication of phrases, pictures and articles via the Internet that threaten national security and civil peace, disturb public order and public morals, and stir up Palestinian public opinion, which, according to the Public Prosecution, is a violation of the second paragraph of Article 39 of the decree-law on cybercrime. No. 10 of 2018.
ICSPR confirmed that this decision comes within the framework of a declared policy of the Palestinian National Authority that focuses on employing the legislative and judicial system to narrow the areas for freedom of opinion and expression, as the decision of the Ramallah Magistrate’s Court was not the first of its kind, but rather similar decisions were preceded by the last one in August 2018 when Counselor Ahmed Muhammad Barak, the former Attorney General, decided to block 11 Palestinian websites, by directing an official order to Internet service providers to block these websites.