BBC reporter still held two weeks after kidnapping

Palestinian journalists demonstrate as they demand the release of kidnapped BBC correspondent Alan Johnston in Gaza, 25 March 2007. (Wesam Saleh/MaanImages)

On 24 March 2007 the Palestinian human rights organization Al-Haq disseminated a call for the release of BBC journalist, Alan Johnston, to the Arabic media. Below is a translated summary of the original Arabic press release.

In an alarming resumption of the abduction and detention of foreign journalists in the Gaza Strip, BBC journalist Alan Johnston was abducted on 12 March 2007 in the Al Rimal neighbourhood in the west of Gaza City. So far, Johnston’s whereabouts, the identity of his captors and the reason behind his abduction have not been explicitly confirmed.

The targeting of foreign journalists constitutes a bewildering and dangerous phenomenon that threatens the very notion of personal security and public order in the Gaza Strip. This crime is a flagrant attack on the rule of law, and further constitutes an attack against individual freedoms. If the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) does not act decisively to confront this phenomenon, the abduction and detention of foreign journalists will be increasingly utilised by armed groups and individuals as a tool to achieve various goals.

Alan Johnston’s abduction might have been avoided had the PNA, in the past, firmly and resolutely held accountable those who committed abductions, as well as other types of aggression against personal security and individual freedoms. The PNA’s reluctance to prosecute and hold accountable such criminals has paved the way for the spread of these crimes.

Greatly concerned about the grave consequences of such crimes, Al-Haq demands the immediate release of Alan Johnston, and that the PNA assume its legal responsibilities by:

  • Securing the immediate and unconditional release of the abducted journalist.
  • Maintaining the rule of law, public security and order, as well as the right of both Palestinians and foreign nationals to individual security, in terms of both person and property, throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
  • Holding the abductors accountable before the relevant judicial bodies.
  • Encouraging the Palestinian Legislative Council to amend the penal law such that the permissible penalties for abduction are made more deterrent.

    Related Links

  • Al-Haq
  • Al Mezan condemns the kidnapping of BBC journalist, Al-Mezan (13 March 2007)
  • BBC’s Alan Johnston second reporter kidnapped in Gaza this year, Reporters Without Borders (12 March 2007)
  • BY TOPIC: Press Freedom