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access to information Conference Students

The Legal Protection of Citizens’ Right of Knowledge  

By: Farid Abu Dheir

The Department of Communication & Digital Media at An-Najah National University in Nablus in Palestine organized Access to Information Conference at the University on Monday 7 November 2022 in  cooperation with JMIC.  

This is the Fourth time The Department Organizes a Conference on Access to Information at their University in commemoration of the International Day for Universal Access to Information declared by UNESCO in 2016. 

Many of the participants. (Photo: Aseel Kilani)

The conference was attended by Mr. Nasser Abu Bakr, president of the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate, Mr. Nasser Jawabreh, Director of Ministry of Information Office in Nablus and Mr. Ruben André Johansen, First Secretary of Political Affairs at the Representative Office of Norway to the Palestinian Authority.  

Professors and students from Birzeit University, Palestine Technical University (Khadoori), Hebron University, Arab American University, as well as a number of Palestinian Journalists participated. 

The participants called for the adoption of Access to Information law in Palestine, as it is a legal guarantee to protect the citizens’ right to knowledge, and the right of a journalist to obtain the information needed to develop democratic participation and achieve sustainable development in society. 

The conferees also called for the development of effective mechanisms to spread the culture of access to, and use of, information, and the removal of all obstacles that prevent citizens from knowing what is happening and what decisions are being made regarding public affairs. 

Besides, conferees warned that the blocking of information opens the way for the spread of rumours and hate speech. It also destroys one of the important bases in building a democratic society that protects human rights and establishes the principles of transparency and integrity in society.  

Ms. Muna Hawash, Head of Communication & Digital Media & Radio and Television Departments, opened the conference by stressing the importance of Access to Information, considering that information is the basic element for a journalist. She considered that this principle is the cornerstone of journalism, and that the citizens’ right to know is a human, moral and legal right. 

Dr. Farid Abu Dheir, coordinator of joint projects with JMIC/OsloMet, highlighted the cooperation, which extends to 23 years. He praised the activities and events that were carried out during those years and the benefit that was reflected on the participating students.  

Farid Abu Dheir to the left. (Photo: Aseel Kilani)

Dr. Abu Dheir explained that the conference aims to integrate the concept of Access to Information in media materials and school curricula, and to seek the adoption of an exclusive law that protects the citizens’ right to knowledge. 

Nasser Abu Bakr, president of the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate, emphasized that the syndicate exerts all efforts to ease the work of journalists and guarantee their right of Access to Information. He pointed to the challenges imposed by the Israeli Occupation on journalists, especially preventing them from covering events and violating journalists’ rights to cover events, in order to block Palestinians Access to Information

Nasser Jawabreh, Director of Ministry of Information office in Nablus, explained that the Israeli Occupation is the biggest challenge for Palestinian journalists, making Access to Information an arduous issue. 

For his part, Mr. Johansen at Norwegian Representative Office, expressed his gratitude for participating in the conference at An-Najah University in Nablus which witnessed harmful Israeli restrictions on the movement of the population, as today’s talk is about human rights, including freedom of movement.  

Mr. Johansen stressed that the Norwegian government is proud to support the cooperation between An-Najah National University and Oslo Metropolitan University. He also mentioned that Access to Information is the key to the improvement of human rights globally.  

Ruben André Johansen, First Secretary of Political Affairs at the Representative Office of Norway to the Palestinian Authority. (Photo: Aseel Kilani)  

He pointed out that although all countries of the world pledge the citizens’ right to access information, many countries impose laws restricting this right. In addition, he stressed the importance of Access to Information in avoiding false information to which journalists are vulnerable. He also mentioned the protests taking place in Iran to activate this right. 

Mr. Ruben concluded his speech with stressing on the importance of human rights in light of the Israeli occupation attacks, and praised 7amleh Foundation, which tirelessly works to preserve human rights. “I am sure that this conference will succeed,” he said. 

 Many of the participants. (Photo: Aseel Kilani) 

In the second session of the conference, Dr. Saeed Shaheen, Head of Media Department at Hebron University, Dr. Islam Halayqa, Lecturer at the Department of Radio and TV at An-Najah National University, Mr. Emad Al-Asfar, Director of Media Development Center at Birzeit University, Ms. Kholoud Assaf, News Editor-in-chief of the Palestinian Wafa News Agency and Mr. Mohammed Daraghmeh, Correspondent of Elsharq TV, made presentation on experiences regarding Access to Information in Palestine.  

The speakers stressed the importance of Access to Information as the main pillar of media work, and an urgent need for citizens in their private and public life. The participants called for not succumbing to the information-blocking policies imposed by governments and public and private institutions, and the need to seek information. Mr. Emad Al-Asfar pointed out that the existence of investigative journalism in developed countries proves that withholding information is a practice that is carried out in all countries of the world, including the Western world. 

The students had their own session. (Photo: Aseel Kilani)

The third session was dedicated to young media students at An-Najah, Birzeit, Palestine Technical University (Khadoori) and Hebron universities. The session was moderated by Laith Hasson and Dana Al-Saifi from the Department of Communication & Digital Media at An-Najah National University. As the above mentioned universities were represented by Roaa Khuffash, Loard Hadeed, Dareen Hamd, and Raed Al-Sharif respectively. 

The participants stressed the importance of Access to Information for young journalists and the need to remove all obstacles to the journalist’s work that prevent them from doing their job professionally and effectively.  

Categories
Press freedom Students

Norwegians and Palestinians studied press freedom together 

By Emily Solem-Young 

In May, Norwegian and Palestinian students collaborated at OsloMet, investigating the conditions of press freedom in seven countries  

The Norwegian and Palestinian students worked together in small groups (Photo: Emily Solem-Young). 

The Rig on press freedom is a journalistic end-of-year-project that has been an annual happening for the first year journalism students at OsloMet for more than a decade. 

Professor Elsebeth Frey and her colleague Mathias Falch have arranged the same project at An-Najah National University in Nablus, Palestine in 2017 and 2019, and in May this year, Palestinians that participated in these workshops joined the Norwegian students during the Rig. 

Farid Abudheir, Assistant Professor, Communication & Digital Media, An-Najah National University in Nablus in Palestine (Photo Oona Solberg) .

The Norwegians and Palestinians worked together in small groups with interpreters, writing news stories about the press freedom in Tanzania, Lebanon, Tunisia, South Africa, Austria, Spain, and the Czech Republic. 

This is the first time OsloMet receives student visits from abroad during the Rig. 

Marie Lauvdal collaborated with Reem Maree on an article about freelancers in Lebanon. 

Reem Maree and Marie Lauvdal collaborated during the Rig (Photo Emily Solem-Young).

– It helped a lot when we were interviewing sources from Lebanon since Reem spoke Arabic. She also helped me translate various websites and videos, Lauvdal said. 

Aziza Jaljouy worked with the Tanzania group. 

– It makes you think about how different press freedom is in different countries, she said. 

The Palestinian students enjoying the Norwegian spring after school (Photo Private).

Read more about the Palestinians experience of the Rig: 

https://eco.najah.edu/en/news/2022/06/students-and-graduates-department-communication-digital-media-najah-national-university-complete-training-session-entitled-rig-press-freedom-oslomet-university-norway/ 
(by Aziza Jaljouy) 

Read more about the cooperation and read all the news stories on Journalen (in Norwegian): 

https://journalen.oslomet.no/2022/05/samarbeider-om-pressefrihet 
(by Emily Solem-Young) 

Categories
Gender Journalist security

Safety Handbook to Palestinians

The Arabic translation of the safety handbook for women journalists “What if…?” is being distributed to students of journalism at An-Najah National University in Nablus and other universities in the West Bank in the beginning of January 2022.  

The safety handbook has been distributed in Palestine.

The book is written by JMIC trainer Abeer Saady for International Association of Women in Radio and Television (IAWRT) and supported UNESCO and Norwegian Union of Journalists and others.  

After the Rig on press freedom – a cooperation project with JMIC/OsloMet – 42 students of journalism at An-Najah University made an excursion to Ramallah. They visited several institutions and handed over the recently printed version of the safety handbook in Arabic. 

The students visiting media institutions in Ramallah.

The first stop was The Palestinian Youth Association for Leadership and Rights Activation (PYALARA) – an institution training media students – and met with its director, Hania Al-Bitar, and staff working in the media field.  

They also met with the representative of the Coalition for Accountability and Transparency (AMAN), Jihad Harb. AMAN cooperates with media faculties at the Palestinian universities to develop and train students on investigative reporting.  

Then the participants visited the Palestinian Radio and Television Corporation (PBC), where they met with a number of officials who briefed them on the departments of the institution and the stages of media work in it.  

Visiting Palestinian Radio and Television Corporation (PBC).

The tour concluded with a visit to Wafa News Agency, where Kholoud Assaf, the editing manager, gave a detailed presentation about the agency, its development and its role in the Arab and international media arena.  

At Wafa News Agency.

These visits included discussions between the students and officials on press freedom and the challenges it faces in the Palestinian reality. 80 copies of the safety book was also given to the Women Studies Center,  which trains female journalists on media and gender (among other topics relevant to gender).

Ruben André Johansen, Second Secretary at the Representative Office of Norway to the Palestinian Authority, with Farid Abudheir, who responsible for the project in Palestine. 

PHOTOS by students mobiles.