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Friday, February 23, 2007

Jordanian group urges protections for journalists and free speech

Jordanian group calls for banning arrest of journalists
By Agence France Presse (AFP)
Friday, February 23, 2007

AMMAN: A Jordanian rights group urged Parliament Thursday to adopt "clear and frank" legislation banning the arrest or imprisonment of journalists. The appeal came in a report on the National Center for Human Rights (NCHR) Web site detailing the state of political, economic, social and environmental rights issues in Jordan in 2006. The NCHR "recommends the adoption of a clear and frank legislation that prohibits arrests or imprisonment in issues related to the press and publication," it said. The report also urged the government to scrap legislation allowing it to own shares in newspapers. "The government controls, through its funds, 60 percent of shares in Al-Rai newspaper, and 35 percent in Al-Dustour newspaper and interferes in their editorial policies," it said. The NCHR also called for legislation "guaranteeing the right to information" and pleaded for journalists on trial for perceived publication offenses to be heard by civil courts instead of the state security court. On Wednesday, journalists observed a one-hour work stoppage to protest a bill that would allow them to be jailed for publication offenses. Parliament later indefinitely postponed its deliberations on the bill until the government reinstates the Information Ministry, which was scrapped by royal decree in 2001. - AFP

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