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Parliament criminalises reporting on corruption

(ANHRI/IFEX) - 27 September 2011 - The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) condemned the recent adoption of Article 23 (A draft law for the Authority of Anti-Corruption presented by the executive power) by the Jordanian Parliament, which criminalizes publishing information about corruption with a fine of 30,000 to 60,000 Jordanian Dinars (approx. US$42,000 to US$84,600). The article was approved by 56 members out of the 96 who attended the session, which was held on the morning of 27 September.

Under Article 23, "Whoever unlawfully spreads, publishes, refers or helps in the publication of news by any public means about any person accused of the crimes of corruption which is mentioned in Article 5 of this law and that leads to defamation, impacts on his dignity or targets his personality, will be punished by a fine not less than 30,000 Jordanian Dinars and not more than 60,000 Jordanian Dinars." This means that journalists, bloggers and activists in Jordan will risk prosecution and a steep fine for publishing any news or information about corruption.

ANHRI pointed out that "the adoption of this article by the Parliament is not only considered to be an attack on freedom of expression and gagging of journalists, but is also a violation against the rights of citizens to circulate information on corruption, which must be shared with public opinion as it affects all classes of people directly."

"This oppressive article that was adopted by the Parliament is considered to be an endorsement for corruption in Jordan. It does not provide any benefit to the people in Jordan. On the contrary, it aims to protect some people in power and could provoke suspicions of corruption against them," said ANHRI

"The adoption of this article by the Parliament is shocking, particularly since the main role of the Parliament is to represent the people and express their interests, limit corruption and curb it. This legislative addition makes us wonder because by adopting this article, it went from guarding against corruption to condoning it. The Jordanian authorities must reevaluate the issue of adopting and applying these arbitrary legal restrictions," ANHRI added.

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