Jordan king backs restrictive media law

Published Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Jordan's King Abdullah II has endorsed controversial amendments to the press and publication law seen by online journalists as a threat to freedom of expression.

The king on Monday night issued a decree approving the law in its new form, after parliament passed the amendments that require the country's 220 news websites to obtain licences from the government, which can censor content and hold journalists liable for posted comments.

The amendments also stipulate that website chief editors must be members of the Jordan Press Association.

Journalists and rights activists have urged the reactionary king to reject the law.

"We refuse to be terrorized," read a banner carried by journalists during a sit-in on Saturday.

"We have high hopes that the king will protect the media in Jordan," read another banner.

Human Rights Watch has also criticized the law.

"The government has long imposed restrictions on how Jordanians may express their thoughts and opinions," the New York-based watchdog's senior Middle East researcher, Christoph Wilcke, said.

"The state should be rolling back those laws, not extending them to online expression."

Arab governments are notorious for imposing tight restrictions on media where dissident journalists are routinely targeted.

(AFP, Al-Akhbar)

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