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JPA criticises move to cover online slander under e-crimes law

By Mohammad Ghazal - Oct 28,2015 - Last updated at Oct 28,2015

AMMAN — Journalists on Wednesday criticised a recent decision by the Law Interpretation Bureau that slander on news websites and social networking sites is covered by the Electronic Crimes Law, opening the door for the detention of media practitioners.

The decision, the journalists said, 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, which stated that Article 11 of the Electronic Crimes Law applies in cases of online slander, 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 such crimes. 

“This is a setback in the history of media in Jordan,” Jordan Press Association (JPA) President Tareq Momani said at an emergency meeting at the syndicate on Wednesday.

“We reject the detention of journalists in cases of publications and we will take all legal measures to prevent it,” Momani added.

Such laws, he said, restrict media freedom without serving the process of reform in the sector, he said.

“The association will take a series of measures to push for rescinding the decision. We will resort to the Constitutional Court in this regard and we will continue to defend media freedom,” he added.

Mahmoud Qteishat, the JPA’s legal adviser, expressed fear that the articles of the Electronic Crimes Law will be loosely interpreted, resulting in misunderstanding and lack of clarity on what is considered slander and what is considered objective criticism.

In a statement to The Jordan Times, the Centre for Defending the Freedom of Journalists (CDFJ) said the Press and Publications Law, which bans the detention of journalists, should apply in cases of publications.

However, the bureau’s interpretation will lead to the detention of more journalists, the CDFJ said.

CDFJ President Nidal Mansour said the interpretation is in violation of international standards which call for media freedom.

He also urged the authorities to go back on this decision.

 

Basel Okour, chief editor of jo24.net news website, charged that the move is “a clear targeting of media outlets by the government”, calling for escalations to protest the decision.

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