(RSF/IFEX) - Every effort must be made to obtain the rapid release of Agence France-Presse photographer Jaime Razuri, a Peruvian national, who was kidnapped in Gaza City on 1 January 2007, RSF said, condemning a lack of political will on the part of the Palestinian authorities to put an end once and for all to the wave of criminal kidnappings of journalists in the Gaza Strip.
“We realise that the chaotic situation prevailing in the Gaza Strip hampers law enforcement, but it is unacceptable that the government and the president do not take action to stop these kidnappings and punish those responsible, especially as the authorities are aware of their identities in most cases,” the press freedom organisation said.
“Do we have to point out that kidnapping a civilian is a crime that must be punished?” RSF continued. “If nothing is done, the abductions will continue and sooner or later one of them will end in tragedy.”
When an RSF delegation visited Gaza last month, the various Palestinian groups and the authorities undertook to put an end to such kidnappings. Following the visit, RSF published a report about the two different kinds of threats to which Palestinian and foreign journalists are exposed in the Gaza Strip.
The report said: “Media personnel no longer feel safe in the Gaza Strip, not only because they fear being shot by the Israeli army but also, and perhaps above all, because they fear being caught in the tit-for-tat violence between the various Palestinian factions […] Both Hamas and Fatah have been involved in attacks on news media and journalists.”
Six foreign journalists were kidnapped in the Gaza Strip in 2006. Most of them were freed quickly and without being subjected to violence. Two US journalists working for the Fox News TV network were held for a longer period of two weeks.
Four unmasked gunmen kidnapped Razuri outside the Agence France-Presse bureau in the central Gaza City district of Al Rimal as he was returning from covering a story. The gunmen did not take the interpreter who was accompanying him. Aged 50, Razuri had arrived in Gaza just a few days prior.
RSF was told that so far no one has claimed responsibility for the kidnapping. President Mahmoud Abbas ordered the various Palestinian security services to locate Razuri.