A Death Knell for Free Expression? The New Amendments to the Press and Publications Law

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Human Rights Watch
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Since Jordan signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1994, there has been growing tension between the Jordanian government and the independent press, particularly the kingdom's small-circulation weekly newspapers. Journalists and editors have been arrested, detained and prosecuted for violations of both the penal code and provisions of the press and publications law of 1993. By the count of one Jordanian weekly newspaper, since the law went into effect sixty-two cases have been brought against journalists and editors, the overwhelming majority of them with weekly newspapers. Faced with public opposition to normalization of relations with Israel, frustration about the implementation of the Oslo Accords between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, and popular discontent with the state of the economy and high rates of unemployment and underemployment, Jordanian authorities have clearly signaled a growing discomfort with the exercise of freedom of expression by both individual critics and the press.

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