A group of journalists and media professionals from different media outlets in Gaza were invited this morning to a workshop to discuss freedom of expression and media laws in Palestine, conducted by the Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) and funded by the Office of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in Ramallah.
MADA said in press release Wednesday that the workshop was held at a conference room at the Community College of Gaza for tourism and Applied Studies.
The workshop was conducted as working groups and training sessions to discuss several axes dealing with the concepts and terminology of basic human rights, freedom of opinion and expression in accordance with international standards, and legislation governing freedom of the press and media.
At the workshops, D. Marjut Helminen (the UNESCO project manager) discussed topics related to media outlets regulations, and the promotion of independent media and pluralism, as well as supporting social media. D. Helminen stressed the importance of respecting the diversity of opinions and to enhance the Palestinian media's role in serving the aspirations of the Palestinian people and their freedom.
Helminen also praised the Palestinian experience in increasing the number of media students at Palestinian universities that showed a strong support for female education of media at the Palestinian universities, cultural heritage protection, freedom of expression, independent media and pluralism, and the training of journalists.
MADA's works and programs; Monitoring program, the legal aid program, advocacy and support program, and the media development program, were presented by D. Ahmed Hamad.
MADA's lawyer in Gaza Mr. Karem Nahswan discussed the right to access information, especially the principles established by Article 19 in this regard. Mr. Nahswan also discussed the A2I draft law which was presented to the legal department at the Council of Ministers, and the importance of enacting this law in Palestine, which will benefit the Palestinian society as a whole.
The participants were divided to working groups to discuss the provisions of Press and Publications Law from the perspective of freedom of opinion and expression, and then propose amendments to the law to ensure freedom of opinion and expression and free press in accordance with international standards of human rights.
The workshop included a discussion on the concept of freedom of opinion and expression and media freedoms status in Palestine, in addition to answering the questions of journalists about MADA's mechanism of defending of journalists, who are exposed to violations, and the reality of media freedoms, human rights, and freedom of opinion and expression according to local and international conventions, and the articles which guarantees citizens the right to freedom of opinion and expression in the Palestinian Basic Law, and in the Press and Publications Law.
The Academic Deputy D. Mohammed Shaath was present at the workshop, and he stressed the importance of cooperation between academic institutions and human rights organizations operating in the defense of freedom of opinion and expression to protect press freedoms, and enhance their knowledge of international principles relating to freedom of the press in the field of human rights.D. Shaath praised MADA's constructive cooperation in order to succeed at this workshop by enhancing journalists' awareness of the laws governing media and freedom of opinion and expression.
At the end of the workshop MADA's team expressed how impressed they are by the level of discussion that took place, and the ability of journalists to raise questions for discussion relating to media freedoms, especially new graduates.