CDFJ launches 2021 report, rates Jordan as ‘restricted’

Media has lost its credibility, said Nidal Mansour at Monday’s opening. (Photo: CDFI)
AMMAN — The Center for Defending Freedom of Journalists (CDFJ) on Monday launched the 2021 annual Media Freedom Index in Jordan report during a ceremony at the Landmark Amman Hotel attended by journalists and writers, lawyers, as well as representatives of civil society and international organizations active in the area of human rights and the media.  اضافة اعلان

The report, entitled Shackled, rated Jordan as “restricted” for the second year running, with a score of 215.2 out of 600, down by 4 percent from 2020, “due to the absence of a conducive political environment in the Kingdom.”

The report was compiled based on 60 questions, filed by 150 Jordanian journalists representing different media organizations in the Kingdom, who claimed that there has been an increase in violations against journalists during the past year, although many were left undocumented.

CDFJ Founder and Director Nidal Mansour, in remarks at the launch ceremony, said the past year has been shrouded with uncertainty, as the CDFJ did not officially document any violations against journalists, However, he said the report’s findings, based on journalists’ experiences, suggested an increase in self-censorship, protection of the government’s interest by media executives, withholding of information by the government, as well as frequent requests addressed to journalists “to have a cup of coffee” with a security official, all of which contributed to the drop in Jordan’s ranking, according to Mansour.

“For more than 20 years since we started issuing the report, we have been optimistic about improved freedom of the press and expression, as we believe that everyone deserves the right to express themselves and enjoy human rights. However, unfortunately, each year, we ran into the same challenges, obstacles, and violations, and perhaps the violations are increasing year by year,” said Mansour.

The 2021 report consists of six sections: 1. Political environment, 2. Legislative environment, 3. Right to access information, 4. Violations and impunity, 5. Media independence, 6. Freedom of expression and press online.

The political environment section was rated “restricted” with a score of 19.9 out of 60. It examines the extent of the government’s support to the media, besides reviewing the scope of intervention by the executive authority or security services in the media, and examines if the government is keen to safeguard media independence.

The legislative environment section maintained its “partially restricted” rating across 2020 and 2021, scoring 34.9 points out of 90. It inspects how the Jordanian constitution preserves and supports the freedom of expression and whether Jordan is compatible with international conventions and treaties that address freedom of expression and press, in addition to examining whether laws encourage investment in the media.

The right to access information section received a “restricted” rating for the second year in a row, with a score of 9.8. It inspects the extent to which the government and public institutions effectively implement the Access to Information Act and if there are specified and transparent provisions on classified information in public institutions, in addition to whether websites of public institutions adequately provide information to the public and journalists.

The Violations and Impunity section was rated “restricted,” with a score of 77.7 out of 210 points, addressing documented violations related to “media regulations and publication prohibition orders.

The media independence section received a “restricted” rating with a total of 34.9 points out of 100. The report stated that, “in principle, there is no independent media in Jordan, as all freedoms are subject to interference under the pretext of political and regional conditions.”

The freedom of expression and press online section also received a “restricted” rating, with a score of 37.2 points out of 100. It examined the extent of online freedom of journalists, activists, and users of social media platforms, and whether the state guarantees convenient and affordable internet access to people, in addition to whether the internet is safeguarded against control, interference, censorship, or manipulation by the government.

“Media has lost its credibility,” lamented Mansour, and asked journalists “not to sob” as professionals who work in the media “are themselves the culprits” behind the deterioration in freedom of expression.

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