Jordan’s modest ranking sparks calls for revised press laws

(File photo: Jordan News)
AMMAN — Jordan’s ranking at 120 of 180 countries in the 2022 World Press Freedom Index has triggered calls for reviewing laws seen restrictive of press freedoms in the Kingdom.اضافة اعلان

Although Jordan improved its ranking by a modest nine spots from the 2021 index, it came fifth in the Arab world, just after the Comoros, Mauritania, Tunisia, and Qatar.

The rankings are set by Reporters Without Borders, better known by its French name Reporters Sans Frontières.

Dauod Kuttab, founder of Community Media Network and former deputy chair of the International Press Institute, said while it was “good news’’ that Jordan improved its standing, much work remains ahead.

‘’There is a lot more to be done in terms of media reform, as well as creating an environment that is welcoming to journalistic independence,” Kuttab told Jordan News.

Kuttab pointed out that that the Jordanian government must revisit its media ownership, open up to community-owned media “so that we can overcome the big problem of self-censorship.”

He emphasized that the latest amendment of the Penal Code that proscribes publishing items that are under a gag order — which was not surveyed in the RSF report — will hurt Jordan, if the Senate approved it.
We must make further progress in all global indicators, because Jordan deserves to be higher up in the rankings.
Jordan Press Association (JPA) President Rakan Al-Saida said the improved ranking is a good sign and a step in the right direction. But he insisted there was an urgent need to examine the political and legal environment affecting press freedom.

“We must make further progress in all global indicators, because Jordan deserves to be higher up in the rankings,” he told Jordan News.

A contributing factor to the improved ranking was that fewer journalists were arrested than in the previous year, Saida explained.

“The responsibility lies with the executive and legislative authorities,” he said. He stressed there was a need to review the Cybercrime Law, the Penal Code, and the Terrorism Prevention Law.

Additionally, he added, there must be an end to political and administrative decisions that limit press freedom.

Saida said the JPA complained of multiplicity of laws that govern the media environment in all its forms, including print, audio, visual, and electronic media.

Nidal Mansour, founder and director of the Center for Defending the Freedom of Journalists, said the progress was positive, but moderate.

‘’We must admit that we are behind,’’ he told Jordan News, noting that Jordan deserves a much higher ranking than this.

“We shouldn’t just celebrate the nine-point lead,” he said. “Instead, we should take advantage of the chance to make progress as we mark World Press Freedom Day, to look at the problems and challenges that all parties face in terms of freedom of expression and media freedom, and how they can be overcome,” he added.

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