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Press association says Anti-Terrorism Law loosely worded

By Raed Omari - Jun 04,2014 - Last updated at Jun 04,2014

AMMAN — The Jordan Press Association (JPA) on Wednesday expressed its rejection of the Anti-Terrorism Law, citing restrictions to media freedom in the recently endorsed law.

In a statement sent to The Jordan Times, the JPA council said the law, which was recently ratified by a Royal Decree, violates the freedom of expression that is guaranteed by the Constitution.

The JPA said the controversial law is “illegal and illogical” as it equates perpetrators of terrorist acts with those who report about them via media outlets.

In remarks to The Jordan Times, JPA President Tareq Momani said the major flaw in the law is Article 3, which “strangely” links Internet use or the establishment of websites in one way or another to terrorism.

Using the Internet, establishing websites or publishing any materials with the intent of facilitating, supporting or encouraging terrorist activities are classified as terror acts in the article.

“It is a loosely worded provision and it places all media outlets under the threat of being stigmatised as supportive of terrorism,” Momani said.

The JPA council is now examining the necessary legal measures to push for removing all controversial and loose provisions from the law, he added. 

Recently, the International Press Institute (IPI) called for repealing provisions of the law that allow journalists to be tried before the State Security Court.

The law “should be amended to ensure that journalists have the freedom to report on national security and that the right of legitimate dissent is not restrained”, the IPI said.

The Lower House endorsed the law in April with deputies maintaining the death penalty for certain crimes tagged as terror acts.

Those who commit terrorist crimes that result in the death of innocent people, partial or total damage of facilities and buildings, and entail the use of explosives, poisons, chemical, biochemical or radioactive materials, face the death sentence, according to the law.

But violations of a milder nature are punishable by five years to life imprisonment.

Another provision in the law states that a person who joins or maintains contacts with armed groups and militias, or attempts to recruit others to these illegal organisations, inside or outside the country, will be penalised.

Financial activities in support of terrorist or extremist groups, inside or outside the country, are acts of terrorism that fall under the jurisdiction of the law.

Any acts that expose Jordan to aggression or harm its relations with foreign countries are also acts of terrorism, according to the law.

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