Calls intensify to revise Article 11 of Cybercrime Law

(Photo: Jordan News)
AMMAN — Several journalists and media professionals denounced the arrest of journalists in connection with cybercrime cases, describing the recent detention of a journalist at the airport upon arrival in Jordan as a systematic campaign aimed at intimidating the “journalistic body.”اضافة اعلان

Media professionals demanded a review of Article 11 of the 2015 Cybercrime Law, which states: “Anyone who intentionally sends, resends, or publishes data or information through the information network or the website or any information system that involves defamation, slander, or humiliation of any person, shall be imprisoned for a period of no less than three months and pay a fine of no less than JD100 and not more than JD2000.”

Jordan Press Association (JPA) Vice President Jamal Shteiwi said this article must be amended because it limits freedom of expression, noting that arrests are usually made based on this article.  Shteiwi decried the law and called for amending it because it “seeks to silence”, contrary to what the Jordanian Constitution advocates.

He said that the JPA has sent a memorandum to government authorities demanding an amendment to the law and asking for a clear and fixed basis, other than the law, for the prosecution of journalists.  “Arrest is a penalty imposed in advance before the appearance in court,” he said.

Founder and Director of the Center for Defending Freedom of Journalists (CDFJ) Nidal Mansour said that this law justifies the imprisonment or arrest of journalists and users of social media sites, adding that “the legislative environment in Jordan has become a tool for restricting the freedom of expression.”

Mansour said that there is a need for a review of the legislative environment to align with international standards of media freedoms, as well as a review of international treaties and conventions that Jordan is signatory to.  In this regard, he noted that a committee, formed by the Council of Ministers three years ago, was tasked with reviewing articles of the Constitution in relation to signed treaties, but “the committee has only met once since then and has done nothing.”  

According to Mansour, the CDFJ has provided governments with a review of restrictive laws, starting with the Press and Publications Law and the Right to Information Law, describing the later as a “reactionary” law that does not guarantee the right of journalists to obtain any information. On the contrary, he said “information is kept confidential and legally obscured”.  Other laws that need to be reviewed, according to Mansour, are the Anti-Terrorism Law, the Penal Code, and the State Secrets Documents Law.

“We have a package of legislation that restricts freedoms of the media, and the arrest of last week was the straw that broke the camel’s back,” said Mansour, adding that it showed the extent to which Article 11 can justify the arrest of a journalist because of an expressed opinion or a post on social media.  “These are flawed measures that are harmful to Jordan’s reputation,” he said.

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