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MENAFN - Jordan Times - 24/09/2012

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Journalists and activists congregate at a tent in the capital to protest against the amended Press and Publications Law. Participants in the event said they would not obey the new law (Photo by Hassan Tamimi)
(MENAFN - Jordan Times) Dozens of activists and journalists gathered at a tent on Queen Rania Street on Sunday to protest against the amended 2012 Press and Publications Law, which they vowed to disobey.

Participants in the two-hour event said the law would restrict freedom of expression and prevent the press in general and the online media in particular from playing the role of the Fourth Estate and monitoring the performance of the government.

The demonstrators announced the formation of a "civil alliance" against the amended law, which includes professional associations, political parties, civil society organisations and public figures.

Earlier this month, a Royal Decree was issued endorsing the amended Press and Publications Law as approved by both Houses of Parliament.

Stakeholders in the media and ICT sectors, as well as press freedom advocates, have criticised the law for being vague about its jurisdiction, arguing that it does not clearly refer to news websites.

In response to opponents of the law who worried that it would harm the Kingdom's IT sector and give the government far-reaching powers to censor the Internet, the Senate issued a clarification explaining that only local news websites, and not social media networks or search engines, would be governed by the Press and Publications Law.

Minister of State for Media Affairs and Communications Samih Maaytah also said the law would not apply to blogs or social media.

The law requires websites that publish "news, investigative reports, articles and comments related to the internal or external affairs of the Kingdom" to register with the Press and Publications Department and stipulates that chief editors of news websites must be members of the Jordan Press Association.

In a statement issued following Sunday's event, the participants said the amendments were against the spirit of Jordan's reform programme and announced that they would not obey the new law, arguing that it conflicts with Articles 7 and 15 of the Constitution, which protect personal freedoms and free expression in particular.

They also argued that the law clashes with international human rights laws.

Over 400 local news websites will be forced to abide by the regulations of this law and the Press and Publications Department will have the right to shut down any website that does not obtain a licence.

Licensed publications can only be shut down by a court order.


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