Jordan: Proposed changes to media regulations impose further restrictions on freedoms
Geneva – Jordan’s proposed amendments to media regulations impose more censorship on journalistic work and may undermine freedom of opinion, expression and publication, Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor said in a statement.
It is not enough to remove the proposed changes from the official site. The government should cancel them for good and stop restricting media freedom.
Last month, the Media Committee sent the Prime Minister proposals for amendments to the radio and television broadcasting license system, the license fee system for electronic news sites, printing houses, publishing and distribution houses, design and research offices, advertising and periodical offices, in addition to the system of authorization and control of audiovisual works.
The most significant proposed changes included increasing website license fees from 50 to 500 Jordanian dinars ($ 70 to 700), the imposition of a fee of 2,500 Jordanian dinars ($ 3,500) for the licensing of broadcasting of radio and television programs over the Internet, in addition to a third amendment. which imposes fees on publishing houses.
The proposed amendments constitute an unwarranted interference with freedom of journalistic work in Jordan and reflect a continuing decline in the behavior of Jordanian authorities towards journalists and activists in the Kingdom.
Jordan is ranked 129th out of 180 in the 2021 World Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders.
Ahmed Hassan Al-Zoubi, editor of the Sawaleif website, told Euro-Med Monitor the consequences the proposed changes could have on its website. He said: “The damage to us as a result of the proposed changes is represented in several aspects, including the exorbitant fees, as the proposed increase is 10 times greater than the previous fees, in light of the stifling crisis affecting various industries. of the Kingdom. due to the coronavirus pandemic. “
He added: “We also face other consequences if the proposed changes are implemented, including imprisonment or a fine if we do not pay a fee of 2,500 Jordanian dinars ($ 3,500) for the use of the live streaming service via social media, which we often use. to cover various events.
Euro-Med Monitor legal researcher Omar Al-Ajlouni said: “The proposed amendments imply explicit legal violations and violate the principle of legislative hierarchy, as license renewal is not mentioned in the law on press and publications, and the government cannot change the legal text or add a mechanism.
“The revocation of the license is only allowed in one case, which is the absence of an editor. In addition, the judiciary is the only power that has the power to revoke a license not for the other party, ”Al-Ajlouni added.
The Jordanian government should abandon all practices that would undermine the freedom of individuals and entities to publish and express an opinion and to respect its relevant international commitments.
It should also protect the rights of individuals and groups to exercise their rights and provide a safe and stable working environment for journalists, activists and civil institutions, instead of introducing new laws and regulations which constitute a repulsive environment. civilian work.
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