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ICHR calls for overhaul of law on cybercrime

Graphic: A laptop computer sits half closed on a desk

The call follows local internet service providers being ordered to block access to at least 25 news websites within the West Bank and Gaza.

The Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR) and the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate (PJS) have called for substantial amendments to the Decree Law No.10 of 2018 on cybercrime to bring it into line with Palestine's international human rights commitments.

On 17 October, the Ramallah Magistrate Court ordered local internet service providers to block access to at least 25 news websites within the West Bank and Gaza, following a request from the Palestinian Attorney General's Office, according to the PJS, the Skeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom and the Arab Center for the Advancement of Social Media.

The order was issued under Article 39 of Decree Law N0.10, which allows authorities to direct internet service providers in the West Bank and Gaza to block websites that allegedly threaten national security, civil peace, public order or public morals.

The security services initiate blocking requests via the Attorney General's Office, according to that law.

The proposed amendments put forward by the ICHR and the PJS aim to ensure a balance between a modern law that can address cybercrime, while promoting and respecting human rights and fundamental freedoms, in particular the right to freedom of opinion and expression.

One of the central proposals is to abolish Article 39, which allows websites to be blocked based on unclear and unspecified reasons.

"This is a clear violation of citizens' right to freedom of opinion and expression and their right to access information," the ICHR said in a statement on its website.

Date: 28 October 2019

Source: ICHR / Committee to Protect Journalists


Image credits

  1. A laptop computer sits half closed on a desk - Photo by Vino Li on Unsplash