Electronic Media calls on gov't to recant Information Systems Cyber Crime Law

[10-08-2010 12:00 AM]

Ammon News - AMMONNEWS - Jordanian electronic news sites announced on Tuesday that it would begin escalating measures against Prime Minister Samir Rifai's government, which they blasted as a government that began restricting public freedoms from the day it was formed, and arbitrarily uses power to constrict free press in Jordan.

In a press conference held at the Jordan Press Association (JPA) in Amman on Tuesday afternoon, the Electronic Media Tracking Committee said that "the policies adopted by Prime Minister Samir Rifai's government to restrict public freedoms and constrain free press is aimed at 'pacifying' Jordanian media," a statement by the committee said, adding that such measures were recently reinforced by the government's recent endorsement of the 2010 Information Technology Systems Crimes temporary law, which critics charge as unconstitutional."

The committee commended the support of various entities in standing up against the "unjust and unconstitutional law," according to their expression, including the Jordanian Unified Front political party, the Islamic Action Front, the National Center for Human Rights, Al Arab Al Yawm newspaper, Jordanian Professional Associations, the Center for the Protection of Journalists, day-laborers and teachers committees, the Retired Military Personnel committee, and the Jordan Bar Association.

Below is the text of the press release issued by a consortium of Jordanian electronic news websites:

Statement Issued by Jordanian Electronic News Sites

"The Jordanian government tracking Internet users: To be a bandit is better than a working as a journalist"

After blocking government employees’ access to national news websites, and in a measure unprecedented in terms of freedoms in the world, the government of Prime Minister Samir Zaid Rifai legislated a provisional law entitled the "2010 Information Systems Cyber Crimes Law" which throws a major blow to new media, putting journalists working in electronic media on par with Internet pirates, financial network con artists, and promoters of pornography, and subjects the press to a penal system that includes imprisonment, fines, and blocking of their sites in an effort to intimidate them and confiscate the right of Jordanians to express their views –in clear violation of the Constitution. This has made working in this field a risk to life and livelihood.

The law includes a provision entitling law enforcement personnel to raid and search the offices of any electronic website and access its systems, all without obtaining prior warrant from the Public Prosecutor. Among the articles of the law, anti-freedom penalties ranging from one month to 15 years imprisonment, some of which are hard labor sentences, and fines that reach 5,000 Jordanian Dinars imposed on the mere dissemination of data or information via the Internet or any information system that may involve defamation, slander, or contempt, as well giving the Public Prosecutor jurisdiction to confiscate equipment and tools, suspending or disabling any information system or electronic site and confiscating its funds.

Websites have become real venues for expressing social interaction, exposing corruption, and have deprived oppressors from their silencing magic wands. All this constituted a disturbing anxiety for the government, especially as their threat intensified with approaching parliamentary elections, meant to be decorated by the marginalization of impartial oversight tools, causing the government to adopt such an unjustified reactionary decision.

The government's insistence on criminalizing Internet users and tracking electronic media journalists comes in the context of trying to preserve a stereotypical government narrative to be indoctrinated in the minds of public opinion, in contradiction with conventional practices of collective and individual human rights, and contrary to the Royal directives that have repeatedly stressed priority to respect the rights of Jordanian citizens to free expression.

And upon such government infringements, we announce the following:

- Abstaining from publishing, gradually, until the above mentioned unjust customary law is dropped.
- Posting a photo of Prime Minister Samir Rifai with the slogan "Enemy of Freedoms" at the forefront of our sites.
- Addressing Jordanian civil society organizations, including political parties, professional associations and trade unions, human rights organizations, and national figures to champion our just demands to revoke the law.
- Addressing Arab and International human rights entities and calling on them to support the human right of Jordanian citizens to free themselves from the "ghetto" imposed by PM Rifai's government, a burden that runs contrary to the obligations of the government and to recognized human rights.
- Other protest measures that will be announced later.

Finally, we hope that the Jordanian government will reverse its political decision and take initiative to withdraw the law, out of respect for the dignity of the state that will be harmed by Jordan's ruined image in the world. The law, if endorsed, will constitute a model of political regime tyranny against Internet users and a milestone in the level of infringement on civil liberties and disregard for human rights and suppression of freedoms.

Jordan will remain free, and soon, the enemies of freedoms will be reduced and forgotten. “

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