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ICHR welcomes changes to electronic crimes law

Graphic: Hand on keyboard

The ICHR had previously expressed grave concern about the impact of the legislation on the right to freedom of opinion and expression .

The Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR) has welcomed changes made by the Palestinian Authority to the "electronic crimes" law enacted last year.

Under the Electronic Crimes Law No. 16 for 2017, which was criticised for being vaguely worded, a person found guilty of acts online that disturb "social harmony" could face up to 15 years of hard labour.

The ICHR had expressed deep concern at the time about the impact of the legislation on the right to freedom of opinion and expression and the right to privacy.

"Moreover, ICHR monitored several violations that resulted from this law, such as arresting, summoning and prosecuting journalists, activists and citizens on the basis of expression of opinion or journalistic work," the ICHR said in a statement.

"Back then, the ICHR called for a substantial amendment of the Law. The government responded positively by forming a committee for dialogue with the different parties, including ICHR, Journalists Syndicate and civil society organizations.

The Commission participated in several sessions of the dialogue with official institutes in order to achieve the desired amendments on the law, in a way that creates a balance between combating electronic crimes and protecting the rights and fundamental freedoms of citizens.

While the Commission welcomes the government's response to several of its recommendations, there are still some issues of concern for the Commission that need to be addressed, mainly regarding privacy, freedom of opinion and expression.

The Commission has published a legal memo setting out its observations on Law by Decree No. 10 for 2018 on electronic crimes.

Date: 4 June 2018

Source: Independent Commission for Human Rights

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  1. Hand on keyboard - Evan Walsh, Flickr CC; http://bit.ly/2lvNZDE