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Is free speech a crime in Palestine?

The Palestinian government needs to rewrite the law on defamation, making it a civil matter, not a criminal offense.
Palestinian lawmakers of Hamas attend a session of the Palestinian Legislative Council in Gaza November 21, 2007. REUTERS/Ismail Zaydah (GAZA) - RTX3UHH

Attempts by the Palestinian Authority to arrest Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) member Najat Abu Bakr for statements she made alleging corruption by a government minister have ignited a discussion about defamation being a crime and calls for its decriminalization.

Majed Arruri, a media rights expert from Ramallah, told Al-Monitor, “Defamation in both its written [libel] or spoken forms [slander] is a tangible issue that doesn’t require [criminal] investigation and, therefore, there is no need to hold someone in jail awaiting the results of an investigation.” He believes Palestinian legislation needs to be enacted to eliminate imprisonment in cases involving defamation.

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