Swiss Consul-General Visits and Lectures on the Freedom of Media

Swedish Consul-General Ann-Sofie Nilsson met on December 7, 2016 with Birzeit University President Abdullatif Abuhijleh to discuss prospects for cooperation. The diplomat also spoke at a workshop about the first Swedish law protecting freedom of the press 250 years ago.

At the workshop, Nilsson emphasized the importance of investing in youth as the key to a stable and promising future. She tackled issues related to press freedom, underscoring that it cannot be taken for granted and must always be safeguarded.

Abdullatif Abuhijleh emphasized that the university seeks in every way to strengthen freedom of expression and democratic values in its community.  He stated that learning from the experiences of others, such as Sweden, one of the most democratic countries in the world, is one part of the university’s efforts to strengthen liberal values.

Director of the Media Development Center, Nibal Thawabteh, said that this workshop gathered together prominent local and international experts to discuss the reality of the freedom of media in Palestine and the world.

Vice President for Academic Affairs Henry Giacaman, Vice President for Community Affairs Asim Khalil, director of the External Affairs Office Amir Khalil, and Thawabteh also attended the collaborative meeting.

The subsequent lecture, organized by the Media Development Center at Birzeit University and in cooperation of the Consulate General of Sweden in Jerusalem, commemorated the date of the first law granting access to information in the Kingdom of Sweden.

Nilsson said that this law enacted in 1866 was the first of its kind in the world, seeking to protect journalists and guarantee their free access to information. According to Nilsson, the Swedish law is based on four major principles including rescinding governmental control; providing citizens with access to public documents; and guaranteeing the transition from prohibition and prevention of printing and publishing, to permissibility.

Former Palestinian government spokesperson Nour Odeh said that freedom is a fundamental right that everyone must have and called upon all journalists to defend their right to issue a Palestinian law protecting journalists, and guaranteeing their access to information.

Al-Arabi Al-Jadeed newspaper journalist Naila Khalil talked about the restrictions and challenges facing Palestinian journalists, especially investigative reporters. She shed light on the obstacles she faced as an investigator reporter during her work in recent years.

Legal researcher Mohammad Al Khader presented a research paper reviewing Palestinian rules and regulations related to freedom of expression and opinion. Monitoring and evaluating coordinator at the Media Development Center Emad Al Asfar concluded the workshop by exploring conditions for freedom of expression in the difficult circumstances that Palestine has experienced.