Reporters Without Borders today released an open letter to King Abdullah criticizing the regime’s decision to block access to 300 news websites on June 3rd that the regime said were operating without proper registration. The letter points out many of the flaws in the law, including the fact that news publications require a government license to operate, as well as other restrictions that place websites and their operators at risk of prosecution for comments that are posted on their sites or for editorials that differ from the government’s positions. The text of the letter is as follows:
His Majesty King Abdullah II
The Royal Palace
Paris, 11 June 2013
Subject: Blocking of news websites
Reporters Without Borders, an international organization that defends freedom of information, would like to share with you its deep concern about your decision to block access to nearly 300 news websites on 2 June.
A September 2012 royal decree promulgating amendments to the press and publications law was widely criticized by Jordanian civil society. Many journalists and human rights organizations condemned and still condemn the new law’s imposition of draconian restrictions on freedom of information, especially online media, which are now required to obtain a licence from the government in order to continue operating (http://fr.rsf.org/jordanie-nouvelle…).
Furthermore, some of the new law’s provisions regulating the work of news websites leave a permanent threat hanging over journalists whose editorial line is at variance with the government’s.
Reporters Without Borders pointed out at the time that this new law violated international standards on freedom of information, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (to which the Kingdom of Jordan has adhered without reservation), article 19 of which covers freedom of opinion and expression.
The blocking of 300 websites, a serious violation of freedom of information and a breach of your reform promises, has confirmed our worst fears.
Reporters Without Borders urges you to restore access to the websites currently blocked within Jordan, and to rescind the recent press law’s repressive provisions, so that it guarantees freedom of information.
I thank you in advance for the attention you give to our requests.
Reporters Without Borders secretary-general