AMMAN: Members of the newly elected lower house of parliament in Jordan have submitted a memorandum to amend the press and publications law, which is opposed mainly by on-line media.
The law was amended by the previous legislature and it now calls for tough conditions on online media and stiff fines for those who violate the legislation.
The demand to scrap the amendment is one of the major steps launched by the lower house of parliament, which was elected on Jan.23.
In their memorandum to the parliament speaker, 10 members of the 150-strong lower house called on the government to scrap various articles, including one that gives the Press and Publications Department (PPD) the authority to block news websites that do not obtain licences for their portals in accordance with the law.
According to PPD Director Fayez Shawabkeh said the memo is constitutional as the group meets the minimum requirement of MPs who can submit a memo to the house speaker to enact a new law or amend an existing one.
But he rejected their criticism of the press and publications law, “As such, the speaker refers the bill to the House Legal Committee for revision. If the committee decided that the request is based on solid grounds, it refers it to the House for voting,” he was quoted as saying by the Jordan Times.
Kholoud Khatatbeh, a signatory to the memorandum, said she believes that the media should not be subject to any form of censorship and they should be allowed it to perform their role properly.
“I am a journalist myself and I understand what it means for a journalist to work in an environment free of any sort of restrictions to the freedom of the press,” Khatatbeh said.
She added that the signatories initiated the memo, and “in the coming few days, we will embark in discussions with stakeholders in the online media and the Jordan Press Association (JPA).” she said.
The memorandum also called for removing an article which conditions that news websites must be run by an editor-in-chief who has been a member of the JPA for at least five years.
It also called for lowering fines on websites that violate the law, and amend a paragraph that holds websites responsible for comments on posts.
Shawabkeh, the PPD chief, stressed that the law “does not aim to control the online media sphere, but to institutionalise it.”