Freedom of the Press

Jordan

Jordan

Freedom of the Press 2002

2002 Scores

Press Status

Partly Free

Press Freedom Score
(0 = best, 100 = worst)

60

Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)

20

Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)

11

A plethora of laws directly or indirectly restricting press freedom generates uncertainty among journalists of what and who may be covered with impunity. This leads to considerable self-censorship. By law, journalists must be members of the Jordan Press Association, and expulsion is tantamount to ending a career in journalism. Broadcasting and the Jordanian news agency (Petra) are state owned and operated. The government owns large shares of two major newspapers, and influences other private publications. In 2001, the trial of publishers and journalists in State Security Courts was provided by an amendment to the penal code. This was attributed to the defense against terrorism but the courts' function was only vaguely defined. Other amendments would imprison journalists for harming national unity, inciting hatred, insulting the dignity of individuals, or promoting "deviation from what is right." The measures also provide for the "temporary or permanent" closure of newspapers and restore prison sentences for defamation. The information ministry was dissolved and would be replaced by the state-appointed Higher Media Council whose purposes were also ambiguously described. In March, six Israeli journalists were barred from an Arab summit in Amman because officials claimed to be unable to ensure their safety. In December, two journalists of the independent Qatar-based Al-Jazeera network were held for questioning.