The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) issued a statement expressing deep concern over the arrest of ‘Adel al-Mashwakhi yesterday, 11 January 2017, by Military Police officers in Rafah after he posted a video on his “Facebook” page criticizing Hamas Movement as many civilians did due to the aggravating power crisis suffered by the Gaza Strip population for 10 years. 

PCHR emphasizes that the right to freedom of opinion and expression is guaranteed under the Palestinian Basic Law and intentional human rights standards.  PCHR also demands strictly complying with the Criminal Procedure Code when summoning any person.

According to PCHR’s follow-up, at approximately 15:00 on Wednesday, on 11 January 2017, Military Police officers arrested ‘Adel al-Mashwakhi (33) while he was near his house in al- Shaboura refugee camp in Rafah City in the southern Gaza Strip.

Adel was arrested after posting a video on his Facebook page in which he criticized the role of Hamas Movement in the electricity crisis in the Gaza Strip. Since it was published, the video was viewed by more than 500,000 people.

It should be mentioned that this is the third time for al-Mashawkhi to be arrested by the security services in Gaza.

He was arrested twice last year, the first of which was by the Internal Security Service when Adel was subjected to investigation and torture, while the second was by the Military Police. Both arrests were on grounds of criticizing Hamas Movement. 

It should be mentioned that al-Mashwakhi is a member of the Palestinian police in Gaza.  However, due to his self-inflicted gunshot wound to the right leg resulting in impaired mobility, al-Mashwakhi could not comply with the official working hours.

PCHR emphasizes that the repeated summonses of opinion makers without any legal justification or explicit charge and arbitrarily subjecting them to undue procedures constitute a blatant violation of public freedoms and clear abuse of power.  Therefore, PCHR:

1.    Calls upon the security services to respect the right to freedom of opinion and expression that is constitutionally guaranteed under the international human rights standards;

2.    Emphasizes that strict application of the Criminal Procedure Code is indispensable for the protection of freedoms and also stresses that the detention pending investigation in cases of opinion expression violates the international standards binding the Palestinian Authority.

3.    The Attorney General should investigate the arrest of al-Mashwakhi to establish the facts in order to hold those responsible accountable.

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