The Palestinian authorities in the West Bank and Gaza are arresting, abusing, and criminally charging journalists and activists who express peaceful criticism of the authorities. The crackdown directly violates obligations that Palestine recently assumed in ratifying international treaties protecting free speech.
Human Rights Watch documented five cases – two in the West Bank and three in Gaza – in which security forces arrested or questioned journalists, a political activist, and two rap musicians based on their peaceful criticism of the authorities. Four of those arrested, two in Gaza and two in the West Bank, say that security forces physically abused or tortured them. The authorities in Gaza denied the allegations, and in the West Bank the authorities said they could not investigate the allegations in the absence of a formal complaint. These crackdowns follow a pattern of violations of the right to free speech and due process that Human Rights Watch has documented in the past five years, most recently in May 2015. In the West Bank, some progress has been made in protecting the rights of those arrested.