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House panel to examine 10 laws on media, freedom of opinion

By Mohammad Ghazal - Jan 09,2014 - Last updated at Jan 09,2014

AMMAN — The Lower House’s Public Freedoms Committee is in the process of revisiting several laws governing the media and freedom of expression to come up with amendments to boost media freedoms, the head of the panel said Thursday.

“The committee has formed several teams to study 10 laws in this regard, including the Press and Publications Law and the Information Systems Crime Law, in order to remove some articles and amend others that hinder media freedoms and represent an obstacle to human rights and expression of opinion,” MP Rula Hroub told The Jordan Times.

The teams will work with the Jordan Press Association (JPA), the Centre for Defending the Freedom of Journalists, the government, the National Centre for Human Rights, and other human rights and media entities to study the loopholes in these laws and come up with a unified vision on how best to enhance media freedoms and human rights, she said.

“We will exert our utmost efforts to revisit all these laws during the current Lower House session, which is scheduled to finish in two months,” she said.

After holding a series of meetings with involved stakeholders, the committee will outline its vision and proposed amendments to the Lower House speaker, and then MPs will be asked to vote on them.

If a majority of MPs vote in favour of these amendments, they will be referred to the government, which is then obligated to draw up new laws taking the proposed amendments into account and send them to the Lower House for endorsement.

“It is a long process, but we have to start because Jordan is signatory to international conventions that call for enhancing media freedoms and human rights, and some articles in the current legislation are against these international agreements,” Hroub said.

JPA President Tareq Momani voiced support for the House committee’s move, stressing the need to enhance legislation to boost media freedoms in Jordan.

“We need to amend several laws related to the media, especially some articles in the Press and Publications Law that hamper media freedoms,” Momani told The Jordan Times over the phone on Thursday.

“We need consistency in legislation governing the sector. Between 1993 and 2013, the Press and Publications Law was amended 10 times. This is too much. Some articles in the law are loosely worded and can lead to a number of interpretations,” he noted.

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