Press freedom reports
The annual World Press Freedom Review by the International Press Institute states that “Jordanian authorities were particularly repressive” in their treatment of media outlets that reproduced the cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammad. Thus, “Jordan became the first country to imprison journalists over the cartoon affair. These actions were a sign that the government is intent on maintaining a tight reign over the independent press through judicial and bureaucratic harassment.”
King Abdullah and other senior government officials have repeatedly expressed a commitment to press reform that would see the decriminalization of press offences; however, the repressive laws remain on the statue books. In the country, journalists continue to be charged with violations of the press law and the threat of imprisonment lingers, promoting self-censorship and limiting critical coverage of political affairs.
The annual report by Reporters Without Borders is also critical of recent developments: “King Abdallah has pushed political liberalization since he came to the throne in 1999, but the “war on terrorism” since the 11 September 2001 attacks in the US still serves as an excuse for the authorities to delay the reforms, including that of the press law. Local journalists are closely watched by the country’s intelligence services and have to be members of the state-run Jordan Press Association. The limits are clear and few journalists dare to breach them, preferring self-censorship.
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