Jordanian laws legalize freedom of expression violations, says monitor

Policy paper issued calls on Jordanian authorities to lift all restrictions on freedom of expression, opinion

amman abdali
(File photo: Jordan News)
AMMAN — A policy paper published by the Geneva-based independent organization, Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor, called on Jordanian authorities to lift all restrictions on freedom of opinion and expression in the Kingdom. اضافة اعلان

The call included canceling all legal provisions that could be used to undermine liberties.

The policy paper stated that the level of freedom of opinion and expression in Jordan has continuously been fluctuating between allowing limited criticism of public authorities, and directly or indirectly restricting entities and individuals, particularly in the media, activities, unionists, and political opponents.

Most prominent violationsOne of the most prominent violations that journalists and opinion makers in Jordan face as a result of exercising their legitimate rights to freedom of opinion, expression, publication, and criticism is the arbitrary use of the “Crime Prevention Law.”

Additional violations include the use of the “Cybercrime Law” to restrict opponents’ freedoms, as well as the disruption or permanent banning of certain social media platforms during protests, such as TikTok, which is still banned today.

The procedures, practices, and laws that limit freedom of opinion and expression have resulted in an ongoing state of self-censorship among bloggers, and opinion holders.

The paper continued to highlight that a number of these people refrain from publicly sharing their views on public matters due to the fear of being harassed or persecuted.

Jordanian Teachers Syndicate shutdownThe policy paper examined the recent unjustified security crackdowns on freedom of expression in the Kingdom, such as the arrest of several political actors, and repeated administrative detention of some activists and members of the Jordanian Teachers’ Syndicate.

Authorities continue to shut down the Teachers’ Syndicate, despite the issuance of several judicial decisions ordering the resumption of activities and nullifying the government’s decision to dissolve it.

Administrative detention to restrict freedomJordanian authorities’ widespread use of administrative detention to restrict freedom of expression and peaceful assemblies was used to detain activists for varying periods of time, either as punishment for previous activities, or to prevent them from participating in future peaceful assemblies the monitor said.

The policy paper also highlighted the use of evidence as a tool of political repression to arrest dozens of teachers for their participation in the protests following the dissolution of the Teachers’ Syndicate.

The former deputy head of the Teachers’ Syndicate, Nasser Al-Nawasra, was arrested on his way to a hospital on April 4, 2022.

Indefinite detentionFurthermore, the law allows for indefinite detention of individuals because it does not set a maximum time limit for detention, which is contracted with Article 114, “Code of Criminal Procedure” which sets maximum time limits for detention based on the criminal acts committed.

Cybercrime Law lacks clarityMoreover, the paper stated that the arbitrary use of the “Crime Prevention Law” gives administrative governors the broad authority to detain whomever they want, in some cases, for as long as they want.

The law may even detain a person if they suspect that the person is about to commit a crime, which violates the right to citizens’ freedom. In some cases, the paper found that administrative governors exercise judicial powers that they do not have, because the arrest of a citizen must be based on a judicial decision.

The law also violates the presumption of innocence, even with the fundamental principle of innocent until prevent guilty and should not be criminalized due to suspicion.

The policy paper highlighted the authorities’ restriction on internet freedom of expression, as individuals face significant challenges when sharing their opinions in cyberspace, particularly because the “Cybercrime Law” lacks clarity and is arbitrarily used to suppress activities and journalists.

Under this law, authorities can prohibit certain social networking services, such as live broadcasting during protests and other important events.

Article 11Authorities use Article 11 of the “Cybercrime Law” to unjustly prosecute journalists and activities, as it contains broadly worded provisions that contradict constitutional guarantees of freedom of opinion.

Under the article, it states “Anyone who intentionally sends, resends or publishes data or information via the Internet or a website or any information system involving slander, defamation or libel against any person shall be punished by imprisonment for a term of not less than three months and a fine not less than JD100 and not more than JD2,000.”

The paper concluded by calling on the Jordanian authorities to respect citizens’ rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, and opinion. It also called on ending all procedures, policies, and laws that may limit rights guaranteed by the local constitution, and the country’s relevant international obligations.

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