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Group: 80 percent of Palestinian journalists self-censor

Oct. 16, 2014 4:40 P.M. (Updated: Oct. 18, 2014 9:44 A.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- A Palestinian media rights groups released a report on Thursday estimating that over 80 percent of Palestinian journalists practiced self-censorship.

The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms, or MADA, released a report of its findings following two studies and a meeting on self-censorship and its impact on freedom of expression and media in Palestine.

General director of MADA, Mousa Rimawi, said that self-censorship is the most "serious and dangerous kind of censorship" journalists face, noting that the practice began during Israel's occupation, before the establishment of the Palestinian Authority.

Rimawi said that direct censorship by Israeli authorities during the First Intifada in the late eighties led to self censorship among Palestinian journalists as media outlets used different methods of circumventing Israeli media restrictions.

Self-censorship continued after the creation of the PA, Rimawi said, and has escalated "concretely and dangerously" since the split between Hamas and Fatah in 2007.

During a meeting entitled "Self-censorship: Is there a way to get rid of it?" dozens of journalists and media students were presented with the results of two studies by MADA which found that 80 percent of journalists surveyed practiced self-censorship on some or all of the material which they had written or produced.

Over 68 percent of journalists said that their work, or their colleagues work, had been banned from being published at one time or another by their employer.

Journalists also explained that self-censorship was not only related to official institutions, but is also related to fears that society and publishers are not willing to discuss taboo subjects.

In Dec. 2013, MADA released a statement documenting "worrying violations" against media freedoms in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The report mentioned several arbitrary arrests of journalists by PA forces in the West Bank and Hamas security forces in Gaza.
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