An Israeli army vehicle drives outside the Ofer military prison in the occupied West Bank in November 2023. (Photo: AFP/Fadel Senna)

CPJ calls on United Nations to investigate Israel’s arbitrary detention of Palestinian journalists

Israel escalates practice of detaining journalists without charge amid war

New York, March 25, 2024—Israel is utilizing administrative detention to detain a record number of Palestinian journalists without charge during the Israel-Gaza war, according to an urgent appeal submitted by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) to the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention on March 25, 2024.

The submission calls on the Working Group to investigate the cases of journalists Moath Amarneh, Mohammad Badr, and Ameer Abu Iram, all of whom have been detained without charge by Israel after the start of the Israel-Gaza war on October 7, 2023.

Under administrative detention, a military commander may detain an individual without charge, typically for six months, on the grounds of preventing them from committing a future offense. Detention can be extended an unlimited number of times.

Israel has 60 days to respond to the submission before the Working Group will issue a ruling. To date, the Working Group has found administrative detention unlawful in Israel in at least three cases.

“The alarming use of administrative detention by Israeli authorities amid the Israel-Gaza war represents the silencing of dissenting voices, most notably journalists,” said CPJ Director of Advocacy and Communications Gypsy Guillén Kaiser. “The incidence of administrative detention is a concerning bellwether for Israel’s efforts to restrict the public’s right to know what is happening in Gaza.”

According to a UN human rights report, Israel held more than 2,800 Palestinians in administrative detention on December 27, 2023. The usage of administrative detention reached a 30-year high in 2023, just before the war, and has reportedly increased further since October 7.

Human rights organizations, lawyers working with Palestinian prisoners, and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) have noted that the detention conditions are rife with abuse and mistreatment. In 2020, the then-UN special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967 called for Israel to end the practice of administrative detention.

In CPJ’s most recent prison census, Israel emerged as one of the world’s leading jailers of journalists, with 17 in custody as of December 1, 2023. At present, 14 Palestinian journalists are being held in administrative detention.

CPJ continues to investigate Israel’s use of administrative detention on journalists amid the Israel-Gaza war and may file further cases with the Working Group. CPJ also continues to monitor journalist casualties in the war, as well as threats, cyberattacks, and censorship.

In addition, CPJ has committed emergency funds to support Palestinian journalists reporting from Gaza with food, emergency shelter, medical supplies, and equipment to ensure they can continue covering the news from the frontlines.

About the Committee to Protect Journalists

The Committee to Protect Journalists is an independent, nonprofit organization that promotes press freedom worldwide. CPJ defends the right of journalists to report the news safely and without fear of reprisal.

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