Jordan | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press



Freedom of the Press 2003

2003 Scores

Press Status

Not Free

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


Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)


Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)


Status change explanation: Jordan's rating changed from Partly Free to Not Free to reflect increasing restrictions imposed on the press in the aftermath of September 11, 2001.

The 1998 Press and Publications Law and its 1999 revisions constrain press freedom in the country. Journalists are frequently intimidated into practicing self-censorship and must be members of the Jordan Press Association to be considered legal practitioners. Restrictions on the press were tightened in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, with the government broadening its authority to prosecute journalists and close publications. Under the guise of implementing antiterror efforts, authorities arrested several reporters throughout the year for having published "false information" or for criticizing the government or relations with neighboring states. The government also joined several other Arab countries in banning the Qatar-based satellite news channel Al-Jazeera from its territory, after the station aired a talk show in which speakers criticized Jordan's moderate policy on the Middle East. Three journalists were found guilty and received prison sentences for "libeling Islam's prophet and disparaging the dignity of the state." Two of the journalists were later released; however, one remains in jail. There are high taxes on the media industry and tariffs on paper, which some owners have claimed reduces the size of their publications. The government is the sole broadcaster of radio and television programs and must license all publications. The government has also been criticized for its policy of advertising primarily in newspapers in which it owns shares.