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Campaign calls for scrapping provision entailing detention of journalists, social media activists

By JT - Mar 05,2016 - Last updated at Mar 05,2016

AMMAN — The Centre for Defending the Freedom of Journalists (CDFJ) said on Saturday it has launched a campaign to call for cancelling Article 11 of the Electronic Crime Law under the title “#Talking_is_not_a_crime”.

The campaign aims at raising awareness of the article’s restrictions on freedom of expression and the media, since it allows suspending and detaining reporters, journalists and social media activists over what they write, the CDFJ said in a statement.

Moreover, the centre seeks to gain public support to pressure the government into amending the law and cancelling this “freedom-restricting” provision.

In the statement, the CDFJ said that since the Law Interpretation Bureau ruled that slander on news websites and social networking sites is covered by the Electronic Crimes Law, seven journalists and social media activists have been detained.

The CDFJ, supported by media institutions and social media activists, created a Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/hakimoshgareemeh) that includes information about restrictions enforced by the law on freedom of expression and the media, especially Article 11.

The campaign urges the public to sign an online petition on its page.

The statement said people’s reactions and opinions will be published and the page will be updated regularly with news on the campaign’s activities.

Moreover, it will continue until after the World Press Freedom Day, marked on May 3 every year. 

The CDFJ conducted a legal study sent to the government and Parliament as part of its “Change” project to reform the media in Jordan. 

The study lists all articles that restrict media freedoms, from the press and publication, electronic crime and State Security Court laws, as well as the Penal Code. 

In the study, the CDFJ presented suggestions for legal amendments and their mandating reasons.

Since late last year, journalists have been criticising the Law Interpretation Bureau’s decision, which they say represents a setback in media freedoms in the Kingdom and will be used to restrict the press and freedom of expression in the country.

The ruling was made after Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour requested an interpretation by the bureau on whether the Press and Publications Law or the Electronic Crimes Law could apply to crimes of slander.

 

In previous comments, the CDFJ said the Press and Publications Law, which bans the detention of journalists, should apply in cases of publications.

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