50-member Syrian opposition body emerges from Riyadh meeting

Updated 24 November 2017
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50-member Syrian opposition body emerges from Riyadh meeting

RIYADH: Syrian opposition leaders gathering in Riyadh have decided to form a new, 50-member High Negotiation Committee (HNC).
The final communique said the aim of the conference was to unify the opposition for a political solution based on the 2012 Geneva Declaration and UN Security Council resolutions, in order to prepare for a transitional period that leads Syria to a decentralized, civil, democratic and pluralistic political system.
The Geneva Declaration calls for the establishment of a transitional governing body with full executive powers, which can include members of the current Syrian regime.
The opposition leaders stressed the multiculturalism and territorial unity of Syria, and vowed to preserve its institutions and hold accountable all those who have committed crimes against the Syrian people.
The participants agreed to negotiate directly with the Syrian regime in order to “establish a transitional governing authority capable of preparing a neutral environment within which the transitional process can move,” on condition that President Bashar Assad and his regime leave office at the start of the transition. The participants also approved the organizational structure and procedural rules of the HNC.
Col. Ismael Ayoub, who defected to the opposition from the Syrian Air Force, told Arab News that Kurdish and Turkmen representatives complained that they were not sufficiently included. But he said this was one of the most successful Syrian opposition conferences.
In the communique, opposition representatives said a peaceful and unbiased transition “will not happen without the departure of Bashar Assad and his cronies and the repression machine at the start of the transition period.”
Ahmed Ramadan, an opposition member of the Syrian National Council (SNC), said it is now up to the regime to show seriousness.
“The message today is that we have a unified vision when it comes to negotiations,” he told The Associated Press (AP).
A Cairo-based opposition group agreed on Thursday to join ranks with other opposition groups and send a unified delegation to Geneva.
“The Cairo group has joined the main opposition delegation to Geneva,” Ramadan told Agence France-Presse (AFP).
 


Palestinian journalist wins appeal over Gaza graft report

Updated 25 March 2019
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Palestinian journalist wins appeal over Gaza graft report

  • The appeals court in Gaza “acquitted journalist Hajar Harb of all charges and closed her file”

GAZA CITY: A Palestinian journalist was acquitted on appeal over an investigative report about corruption in the Gaza Strip Monday, according to Amnesty International and a campaign group.

In a 2016 report for Al-Araby TV, Hajar Harb alleged that doctors were writing false medical reports to let people leave Gaza for treatment, one of the few reasons Israel allows Palestinians out of the blockaded strip run by Hamas.

In October that year, two doctors launched legal proceedings accusing her of defamation and “publishing false information,” according to Amnesty International.

The 34-year-old had been sentenced to six months in prison and fined, but the appeals court overruled the decision, said Fathi Sabah, head of a group supporting Harb.

The appeals court in Gaza “acquitted journalist Hajjar Harb of all charges and closed her file,” he said.

“This represents not just a victory for Hajjar but for freedom of the press,” he added.

Amnesty said Harb had been questioned by police at least four times following her report, but welcomed the decision of the court.

“It is really good news that Hajjar Harb was acquitted today, she was standing a trial that should not have taken place to begin with,” said Saleh Higazi, Amnesty’s deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa.

“We hope that the Gaza authorities take this opportunity to signal that they are serious about freedom of expression and the press.”

In 2018, the Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms recorded 77 violations of press freedom in the Palestinian Authority-run West Bank and 37 such cases in Gaza.

Hamas have controlled Gaza for more than a decade and have recently cracked down violently on street protests.