The Deputy General of the Palestinian Ministry of Information
Dr. Mahmoud Khalifeh,
Subject: The decision issued by the Deputy General Manager of Publications and Media Affairs, demanding “A7la FM” radio station to appoint a new director as an alternative for the media professional Reem Al-Omari within a period of two week.
MUSAWA –The Palestinian Center for the Independence of the Judiciary and the Legal Profession and the Palestinian Human Rights Defenders’ Network (PHRDs) extend their greetings to you. We are sending you this memo following the phone call between MUSAWA’s General Manager and yourselves, on Thursday 23/11/2017, regarding the subject of this memo, where MUSAWA was asked to send an official letter demanding an explanation for issuing the aforementioned decision or those preventing the cancellation of the decision. If we refer back to the second paragraph of Article (12) of The Decision of the Council of Ministers No. 182 of 2004 concerning the Regulation of the Licensing of Radio, Television, Satellite, and Wireless Stations, the media professional Reem Al-Omari meets all of the requirements to be the station’s Director, which means that the decision at hand violates the law, prejudices the basic rights of the citizens, infringes the provisions of the Basic Law as well as the international treaties Palestine has acceded-to, particularly the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Furthermore, the said decision violates paragraph 39 of the General Comment No. 34 of the UN Human Rights Committee, which stresses that the standards related to the licensing of the broadcast media must conform to the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and they must be clear, transparent, and non-discriminatory.
Moreover, we point out that issuing the decision at hand following the Ministry of Interior’s rejection to approve the Director of the station, Ms. Reem Al-Omari, without providing any legal justification for their rejection, warns of going back to what is called ‘security safety’, which the Council of Ministers has decided to abolish its implementation a long time ago (the Council of Ministers’ decision in its session no. 133, dated 24/04/2012), as it violates the principle of equality and the citizens’ basic rights and their right to express their opinions freely, and goes against the rights and freedoms under the Basic Law.
The decision in question violates the right of the citizen Reem Al-Omari to work and to a decent life, as well as her right to participate in public life, all of which are guaranteed by the Basic Law, which explicitly states in the first paragraph of Article (25), “Every citizen shall have the right to work, which is a duty and honor. The Palestinian National Authority shall strive to provide work for any individual capable of performing it”. In addition, Article (26) of the same law states that “Palestinians shall have the right to participate in political life, both individually and in groups. They shall have the following rights in particular: 1… 2… 3… 4. To hold public office and positions, in accordance with the principle of equal opportunities”, and the third paragraph of Article (27) states, “Censorship of the media shall be prohibited. No warning, suspension, confiscation, cancellation, or restriction shall be imposed upon the media except by law, and pursuant to a judicial ruling”.
In reference to the constitutional provisions referred-to above, the decision at hand violates the right of the said citizen to work. This decision contradicts with the National Authority’s duty to provide work in that it entails a denial of the citizen from working, and it infringes her right to political involvement through her media-related work, which she is entitled-to by the Basic Law. Furthermore, the decision imposes restrictions on the media by an administrative decision without any legal basis or a final judicial ruling regarding the matter, which usurps the powers of the judicial authority.
As you have refused to inform MUSAWA of the reasons behind issuing the said decision, knowing that the decision itself did not include any justification of this kind, and as the said decision has been issued in the form of an administrative decision, we ask you to cancel the decision in question, and to guarantee the media rights which Reem Al-Omari is entitled-to in her capacity as the Director of “A7la FM” radio station, noting that the party with the authority to select the director is the management of the broadcasting station or its owner(s). With all due respect, the Ministry of Information, or any other authority, has no say in the selection of the director of the station or its other employees as long as the requirements for filling in the position are met in accordance with the provisions of the second paragraph of Article (12) of The Decision of the Council of Ministers No. 182 of 2004 Concerning the Regulation of the Licensing of Radio, Television, Satellite, and Wireless Stations.
We hope to receive a response to our memo as appropriate, clarifying the legal action taken on your part regarding the matter, hoping that you would respond to our request to cancel the decision at hand.
With all due respect,
Issued on 26/11/2017
The PHRDs’ Network