PM opens IPI World Congress

[20-05-2013 11:19 PM]

Ammon News - AMMAN (Petra)--Deputizing for His Majesty the King, Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour opened the International Press Institute World Congress and 62nd General Assembly in the presence of Her Royal Highness Pricness Rym Ali, Founder of the Jordan Media Institute, Minister of Media Affairs and Communications and Minister of Political Affairs and Parliamentary Affairs Mohammad Momani and other officials.

Ensour said in opening remarks that the IPI World Congress is convening here in Jordan as a recognition of the vitality of our Jordanian media sector and the fact that this Congress is being held under the patronage of His Majesty King Abdullah II reflects the media’s key role in our journey.

"These past few years have been momentous in our region. The Arab Spring has opened new opportunities, created new needs and added more urgency to old ones. Generating jobs, especially for the youths, that form the majority of Jordan and this entire region’s population.. Developing transparent and inclusive governance ... Ending the injustice that the Palestinians have been suffering, and that has kept the region in crisis ... Mobilizing help, global help, for the Syrian refugee emergency; and for a political solution in Syria, to stop the bloodshed and maintain unity and territorial integrity." In all these arenas, he added, the press has a vital role to play as citizens depend on the media for the information they need to engage in economic and political life, participate in the development of their country and effect change. "That means high professional and ethical standards, impartial, dedicated journalists - in every media - who can report the full story ... counter rumours and bias with accurate, credible facts ... report in-depth on concrete solutions ... and fairly present multiple views and voices, the prime minister added.

Ensour said that In today's global news, journalists have another important role: to communicate across borders and increase understanding between peoples and regions. Your eyes are the world's eyes. " And the people of our region need you to see more than crises; we need you to see our vibrant and young population; the economic and investment opportunities; the rich potential across the Arab world." "For these reasons and many more, the media is and will remain an essential part of Jordan’s future. We are on a reform path, and that includes a vibrant media sector. As part of our ongoing political reform process, Jordan has introduced new tools to further guarantee rights and freedoms, including media freedom".

The prime minister pointed out that the recently established Constitutional Court, derived from the new constitutional amendments, guarantees that laws regulating rights and freedoms, including media freedom, shall not affect the essence of these rights or their fundamentals.

He added that national media has been playing a key role in providing a platform for meaningful and constructive dialogue. "Most recently, we saw this during the January parliamentary elections. As we go forward with reform, media input will become increasingly essential," Ensour said.

Ensour said the national media strategy addresses laws and regulations, to strengthen access to information and freedom of expression as well as professional and ethical responsibility, creating an environment that supports independent media based on a framework to achieve balance between freedom and responsibility.

He noted that a most pressing need addressed by the strategy is for effective programs to enhance professionalism and improve the quality of news that Jordanians consume, especially local news that are most relevant to citizens. "The national media strategy also seeks amendments to laws and regulations that directly affect the news media, and some progress has already been made on that".

The premier Our Access to Information Law - the very first in the Arab world - was amended last year to extend the right to information, strengthen the role of civil society in advancing this right, and make official institutions more responsive.

" ICT is a major contributor to Jordan's development and future. Internet penetration has reached 67%. Jordanian companies and manage 75% of all Arabic-language internet content from the region. Not only did the amendments to the Press and Publications Law not hamper this creativity and innovation in any way, but it is Jordan’s unequivocal, unwavering policy to do all we can to continue to foster the ICT sector." Ensour said the amendments did not introduce any content restrictions. "What they introduced was guarantees for online journalists, who now benefit from the same labour rights and legal protection as their colleagues in other media. This means, amongst others, that they cannot be arrested or jailed for speech-related offences, and can only be tried by specialised media courts presided over by specialised judges." He said the Press and Publications Law, as any other law, is open to debate and dialogue amongst stakeholders, Parliament, and civil society, stressing the government's readiness to further improve the media environment and enhance a credible and responsible press.

Executive Director of the International Press Institute Alison McKenzie said developments in past years contributed to creating a free and active media.

She also reviewed media freedoms around the world and violations committed against journalists around the world.

Titled "Documenting Change / Empowering Media", the two-day IPI World Congress will examine the many challenges, concerns and opportunities facing journalists in a rapidly changing world – not only in the Arab region, but around the globe.

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