Human Rights Watch released a report Wednesday detailing the abuse of journalists in the West Bank and Gaza at the hands of the Palestinian Authority.
The report, “No News is Good News: Abuses Against Journalists by Palestinian Security Forces,” accuses Palestinian Authority security forces of censoring, harassing and torturing reporters, resulting in a severe restriction of free speech.
Documenting seven instances of journalist detention and abuse, Human Rights Watch concludes that the effect has not only been active censorship but also a “chilling effect” of self-censorship by journalists in the area.
“Security forces of the Palestinian Authority have arbitrarily detained scores of West Bank journalists since 2009, and in some cases abused them during interrogation in a manner that amounted to torture,” the report reads. “Like other Palestinian victims of abuse by the Palestinian Authority’s security services, these journalists confront a virtual wall of impunity when they try to hold their abusers accountable, leaving the victims feeling vulnerable to further harassment and abuse.”
Human Rights Watch points out that donations from the United States and Europe make up a large portion of the Palestinian Authority’s budget. Last year the State Department gave the Palestinian Authority $150 million to help close their budget deficit. The New York Times reports that over the past few years the Palestinian Authority has received an estimated $400 million from America.
Human Rights Watch advises the United States and Europe make any future funding decisions contingent on the Palestinian Authority taking responsibility and correcting their actions.
The report also notes that the Palestinian Authority is not the only culprit in the area. The U.S. designated terrorist group, Hamas, also has been guilty of unduly detaining and abusing journalists in Gaza.
“Although reported abuses against journalists have been less frequent in Gaza, Human Rights Watch continues to monitor the situation there closely and includes in this report two cases of abuse by Hamas authorities to demonstrate that problems do exist,” the report reads.
Human Rights Watch is an international organization focused on protecting human rights.