World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search

 


Jordan: Deliver on Promises to Respect Free Expression

Arrests, Security Trials for Peaceful Criticism
January 28, 2014

(Amman) – Jordanian lawmakers should undertake critical reforms in 2014 to remove or amend laws that place impermissible limits on free expression, Human Rights Watch said today in its World Report 2014.

Jordanian officials prosecuted people during 2013 on such vaguely worded charges as “insulting an official body,” “undermining the political regime,” and “disturbing relations with a foreign state,” to stifle peaceful expression. Authorities failed to bring the 1960 penal code into compliance with constitutional free speech guarantees strengthened by 2011 constitutional amendments.

“It’s shameful that Jordanian prosecutors can still imprison people who simply chant a slogan at a protest or voice an opinion about a leader,” said Nadim Houry, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Constitutional guarantees are just ink on paper if the authorities don’t get rid of penal code articles that undermine them.”

In the 667-page world report, its 24th edition, Human Rights Watch reviews human rights practices in more than 90 countries. Syria’s widespread killings of civilians elicited horror but few steps by world leaders to stop it, Human Rights Watch said. A reinvigorated doctrine of “responsibility to protect” seems to have prevented some mass atrocities in Africa. Majorities in power in Egypt and other countries have suppressed dissent and minority rights. And Edward Snowden’s revelations about US surveillance programs reverberated around the globe.

In September, prosecutors charged the publisher and the editor of the Jafra News website with “disturbing relations with a foreign state” after the site posted a third-party YouTube video that authorities deemed insulting to the brother of Qatar’s ruler. Authorities held them until December 31, when an appeals court ordered their release on bail and transferred their case from the State Security Court to the Amman Court of First Instance.

The State Security Court in May exonerated five students at Al al-Bayt University in the northern city of Mafraq of “inciting sectarian or racist strife,” but on January 20 a regular court convicted four of them for “insulting a religious symbol” and sentenced them to one month in prison. Prosecutors alleged that their style of dress and musical tastes indicated that they were “devil worshippers.”

The director of the Press and Publications Department on June 2 ordered the blocking of more than 260 news websites that had refused to register, as required under a 2012 amendment to the press law. Some registered in November after losing a lawsuit to overturn the order.

Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour announced in September that the government planned to amend the State Security Court law to end trials of civilians before the court except on charges of terrorism, espionage, treason, money counterfeiting, and drugs. Yet the penal code’s overbroad definition of terrorism includes such vaguely worded offenses as “undermining the political regime.” Dozens of protesters face terrorism-related charges before the State Security Court merely for chanting slogans or carrying signs at protests critical of the king and other officials.

In breach of international law, officials denied entry to certain groups of people fleeing Syria’s conflict, including Palestinian and Iraqi refugees residing in Syria, single males of fighting age, and people without documents.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Demonetisation: Gordon Campbell On India’s Huge Socio-Economic Experiment

Without much coverage at all in the West, India has just been engaged for the past few weeks in one of the world’s biggest socio-economic experiments since the Cultural Revolution in China. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Death Of Fidel Castro

New Zealand likes to think we played our part – via the 1981 Springbok tour – in bringing the apartheid regime in South Africa to an end… Jacob Zuma treated the death of Fidel Castro at the weekend as an occasion to pay a heartfelt tribute to the thousands of Cuban soldiers who travelled across the world to inflict the first significant military defeat on the forces of white supremacy. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The US Election Home Stretch

Once again at the business end of a US election, the result will hinge on the same old bits of geography as always: the Five Crucial Counties in Ohio, the Two Crucial Counties in Pennsylvania and the I-4 Interstate Corridor in Florida that runs from Tampa Bay through Orlando to Daytona Beach. More>>

ALSO:

Meanwhile:

Haiti: $5 Million To Kick-Start Aid In Wake Of Hurricane Matthew

UN emergency fund allocates $5 million to kick-start assistance in wake of Hurricane Matthew More>>

ALSO:

Preliminary Results: MH17 Investigation Report

The Joint Investigation Team (JIT) is convinced of having obtained irrefutable evidence to establish that on 17 July 2014, flight MH-17 was shot down by a BUK missile from the 9M38-series. According to the JIT there is also evidence identifying the launch location that involves an agricultural field near Pervomaiskyi which, at the time, was controlled by pro-Russian fighters. More>>

ALSO:

Not Helen Clark: António Guterres Favourite For Next UN Secretary-General

Former Portuguese Prime Minister António Guterres has emerged as the clear favourite to become the next United Nations Secretary-General following the sixth secret ballot held today by the UN Security Council, which is expected to take a formal decision tomorrow and forward Mr. Guterres’ name to the 193-Member General Assembly for final confirmation. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The End Game In Spain (And Other World News)

The coverage of international news seems almost entirely dependent on a random selection of whatever some overseas news agency happens to be carrying overnight... Here are a few interesting international stories that have largely flown beneath the radar this past week. More>>

Amnesty/Human Rights Watch: Appalling Abuse, Neglect Of Refugees On Nauru

Refugees and asylum seekers on Nauru, most of whom have been held there for three years, routinely face neglect by health workers and other service providers who have been hired by the Australian government, as well as frequent unpunished assaults by local Nauruans. More>>

ALSO:

Other Australian Detention

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
World
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news