Jordon: The Jordanian Parliament Passes a Law that Restricts Internet Freedom Deemed to be a Serious setback in the Freedom of Expression
ANHRI condemns passing of the law that restricts the freedom of electronic journalism and the freedom of expression on the Internet.
On Tuesday September 11, 2012 the parliament has passed a law on amending the articles of the Press and Publications Law of Jordon (no. 8 of 1998).
The amendments adding to the fine penalty, stipulated in the law in case of a printed material issued without obtaining the license, granting the executive authority the discretionary right to close the foundation that issued the printed material, ban its publication and confiscation of its editions.
The amendments included an article that obliges any electronic publications (website on the Internet), spreading news, reports, articles or comments addressing the internal or external affairs related to the Kingdom, to obtain a license from the publication administration, on condition that the licenses shall issue by a name registered in the Jordanian Press Association (JPA).
The law allows the authority to block any website that commits any violation stipulated in its texts in virtue of a judicial verdict.
In addition to the law expands the responsibility of the website to include the comments of the visitors. The owner of the printed material, editor-in-chief, manager and any of the staff related to the commented material shall be included in the responsibility.
The law obliges the electronic publications from publishing any comments if it included any information, news that is not related to the published material, not verified or that constitutes a crime in accordance with the laws.
The law also obliges the electronic publications to keep a record that include all the comments with all the information related to its sender for a period not less than six months!
ANHRI said that “the new law seriously violates the freedom of opinion and expression on the Internet.
It practically bans the Internet user from addressing the internal and external affairs related to the kingdom via blogs, forums or social networks. In addition, it imposes conditions that is practically impossible to be met by the majority of the Internet users. The law imposes very hard restrictions, on the interaction of the website visitors with the published material adding comments, that terrorizing these websites and it will force them practically to give up and never use such communication channel at all, which will ban them from using their right to freedom of expression regarding the published material”.
ANHRI said that “the law will allow through general, vague and ambiguous provisions the authorities to close and block the websites inside and outside the Kingdom. In addition, it allows the authorities to legally prosecute the responsible by charges that could reach to imprisonment penalties upon the discrete of these authorities of what it may sound to them as a violation of law. Therefore, anyone who opposes the regime or his policy will be liable for being banned or prosecuted by unforeseen charges”.
ANHRI is astonished that “the parliament has passed this law. The parliament, supposedly, represents the people of Jordon and the protector of their rights and freedoms. Such a law will prevent a huge sector of the people from one of the main important means of engaging in the issues related to their country.
It will also prevent them from their fundamental right to freedom of opinion. ANHRI calls the parliament and the concerned authorities to review and revoke such defective amendments, which represent a serious violation to the articles of the constitution and the international treaties signed by Jordon and Jordon must comply with it.
ANHRI calls the international organization concerned to press the Jordanian authorities to be abide by the international convections and treaties related to the freedom of expression. In particularly the law comes in the frame of the series of the violations committed by the authorities against the rights and freedoms of their citizens. Such violations included the suppressing of the peaceful demonstrations, the arrest of the participants, imprisonment of some of them due to false allegations and the harass of the journalists, newspapers and publications.
ANHRI said that “the authorities should realize that banning, blocking and restricting are old terms, that the people get rid of it, after the Arab spring revolution. The modern communication means and the Internet played a pivotal role in these revolutions. The suppressing tools did not succeed and there is no other way to any regime that wishes to survive but to re-conciliate with his people by meeting their aspiration and respecting their rights and freedoms