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IFJ urges review of press law after minister's resignation

(IFJ/IFEX) - 23 June 2011 - The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today called on the Jordanian government to review the draft press law after the resignation of Jordan's Information Minister, Taher Adwan, who quit the cabinet on Tuesday to protest against repressive laws which are being debated by the country's Parliament, including the press law. The former minister said he opposed the draft legislations which he considered repressive and called for press freedom to enable credible political reforms in Jordan.

"We welcome Minister Adwan's decision to speak out against repression and targeting of media," said Jim Boumelha, IFJ President. "We urge Jordan to heed this call and review the media law and bring it into line with internationally recognised norms of press freedom."

In a statement to the French News Agency, AFP, the former minister said he had resigned his post after King Abdullah II ordered Parliament to convene in an extraordinary session to debate a series of temporary laws. Adwan criticised the proposed legislation as a "blow to the reforming drive" and accused the regime of imposing "martial law" in the kingdom.

He strongly condemned the attack on the AFP bureau in Amman last week by people armed with sticks who ransacked the office. The attack was reportedly linked to the AFP report of an incident in which the King's motorcade was stoned, the agency said.

"Violence against journalists and their offices cannot be justified, under the pretext of loyalty and nationalism," Adwan, a former journalist, told AFP.

The IFJ calls for an independent investigation into the attack on AFP offices in Jordan and warns that attempts to gag journalists are inconsistent with the authorities' public declarations of reforms and dialogue.

"This violent incident must be investigated and the attackers brought to justice," added Boumelha. "Crackdown on media has always proven counterproductive in quelling critics. It is more likely to show lack of commitment to genuine reforms and to undermine further the leadership's credibility."

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