PCHR is deeply concerned over storming the headquarters of Ramattan Press Agency in Ramallah by members of the Palestinian Preventive Security Service (PSS) and the arrest of a Palestinian journalist on Wednesday, 12 March 2008. PCHR believes that this attack constitutes an assault on press freedoms and the right to freedom of expression, and stresses that the rights to freedom of expression and to receive and impart information are ensured by the Palestinian Basic Law and international human rights instruments.
According to investigations conducted by PCHR, at approximately 12:00 on Wednesday, armed members of the PSS, accompanied by three officers in civilian clothes, stormed the headquarters of Ramattan Press Agency in al-Wehaidi Building in al-Masyoun neighborhood in Ramallah. They requested Nawaf Ibrahim al-‘Aamer (48), an editor, to accompany them. However, he asked them to show an arrest warrant, and they showed a warrant issued by the Attorney General’s Office allowing them to enter the headquarters and arrest him. Members of the PSS confiscated all belongings of al-‘Aamer as well as a computer. They also broke into the dormitory of the agency’s staff and confiscated all documents in the room where al-‘Aamer lives. Al-‘Aamer was then arrested by the PSS.
In his testimony to PCHR, journalist Nawaf al-‘Aamer stated:
… They took me in a military vehicle to the headquarters of the PSS in Ramallah. They took my personal data and photographed me. They then moved me to the headquarters of the PSS in Bitounia town. They interrogated me in six sessions. They asked me about my email and wanted to have my password. They wanted to check my email claiming that there are materials related to Palestinian security. I refused to open my email without the presence of my director or the president of the Union of Journalists, but they insisted. At approximately 23:00, I agreed to open my email on a private computer. They allowed a relative of mine to come and bring a laptop. I opened my email, and the interrogators downloaded all messages. At approximately 04:00 on Thursday, 13 March 2008, they released me after Ramattan Press Agency and other people had mediated. However, they requested me to come to the headquarters of the PSS at 14:00 to continue the interrogation.
PCHR is deeply concerned over storming the headquarters of Ramattan Press Agency and arresting the journalist and forcing him to reveal his personal data, and:
- Stresses that this assault constitutes a violation of the Amended Basic Law whose article 32 prescribes: “Each aggression committed against any personal freedom, against private life of human being, or against any of rights or freedom, which have been guaranteed by the law or by this basic law, shall be considered as a crime. Criminal and civil case resultant from such infringement shall not be subject to any status of limitation.”
- Expresses utmost concerns over the recurrence of assaults against the right to freedom of expression, and calls for providing protection to journalists and media institutions and take necessary measures to allow them to work freely.
- Asserts that the right to freedom of expression is ensured by the Palestinian Basic Law and international human rights instruments.
- Calls upon the Palestinian National Authority to arrest the perpetrators of this attack and bring them to justice.