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Jordan's Press Law Draft
(as Published in the Jordan Times on 6/17/98)

 

Government Proposes New Press Law


Following is an unofficial translation of the newly proposed law that the government Monday sent to the Lower House of Parliament to consider:

Draft Law No. ( ) for 1998

Press and Publications Law

Article 1

This law shall be known as the Press and Publications Law for 1998 and shall be effective as of its publication in the official gazette.

 

Definitions:

Article 2

The following words and phrases shall have the following relative interpretations wherever they occur in the law unless otherwise specified.

Ministry: The Ministry of Information or the official department in charge of information affairs.

Minister: The Minister of Information or the minister who is in charge of media affairs.

Department: The Press and Publications Department (PPD)

Director: The Director of the PPD

Association: The Jordan Press Association (JPA)

*Person: The normal person or the institution.

Publication: Any mean that transcribes meanings, thoughts, ideas, or expressions in words, letters or figures, or numbers, or symbols, or pictures or drawings, or impressions, or photocopies.

Periodical publications: Journalistic or specialised publications of all kinds that are issued regularly. They include:

a) journalistic publications that include:

1) Daily publication &emdash; A publication that is issued on a daily basis under a specified name and issue numbers and is meant to be distributed to the public;

2) Non-daily publication &emdash; A publication that is issued on an irregular basis once a week or with longer intervals and is meant to be distributed to the public.

b) Specialised publication &emdash; A publication that is specialised in a certain domain and is delivered to concerned individuals or the public as stipulated by its licence;

c) Petra News Agency bulletin &emdash; The bulletin that is prepared to provide media means with news, information, articles, pictures, drawings, whether that be on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.

Journalism: The profession of preparing and editing news, reports, features, analyses, interviews, articles, and publishing them in print or visual or audio media.

Journalist: Any individual that meets the conditions as stipulated by the current JPA law and is currently practising the journalism profession in accordance with the law.

Foreign Correspondent: Any individual, regardless of his nationality, who practises the journalism profession for non Jordanian media.

Printing press: The place and equipment used to produce publications of any nature throughout the different process. This definition does not include typewriters and printers and photocopiers that are not used for producing publications.

Publishing House: The institution that prepares, produces and sells publications.

Distribution House: The institution that distributes or sells publications.

Publication and Distribution House: Institution that undertakes both of the two above mentioned tasks, publishing and distributing simultaneously.

Bookstore: A commercial enterprise licensed to sell books, writing utilities, newspapers, magazines and other publications.

Research and Study Centre: An Institution that carries out studies and research and provides consultations in political, social, economic, anthropological and cultural domains.

Polling Centre: An institution that carries out research, the aim of which is to survey public opinion trends concerning a particular issue by means of questionnaires or other means.

Translation House: An institution which carries out translation activities from one language to another including simultaneous interpretation services.

Advertisement and Promotional Bureau: A bureau that undertakes advertisement and promotion activities and produces and publishes or broadcasts its material through any mean.

 

Rights and Obligations of the Press

Article 3

The press is free and the freedom of expression is guaranteed for every Jordanian who has the right to express his/her opinion freely, verbally, by writing, photographing, drawing and other means of expression.

 

Article 4

The press practices its profession freely regarding presenting news, information, commentary, and contributes to the dissemination of thought, culture, and science within the framework of preserving freedoms, rights and public duties and the respect of the right to privacy.

 

Article 5

Publications should respect the truth and are prohibited from publishing anything that contradicts the principles of freedom and national responsibility, human rights and the values of the Arab Islamic Nation.

 

Article 6

Press freedoms include the following:

a) informing the citizen of events, ideas and information in all fields;

b) allowing citizens, political parties, professional associations, cultural, social and economic societies to express their opinions, thoughts and achievements in their different domains of activities;

c) obtaining information, news, and statistics that concern the citizen and analysing, exchanging, commenting and publishing them;

d) periodicals and journalists have the right to maintain the confidentiality of their sources unless the court rules otherwise in the course of criminal lawsuits.

 

Article 7

A mandatory Code of Conduct for Journalists:

a) the preservation of public freedoms, and the respect of individuals' rights, freedoms, private lives and reputation;

b) freedom of thought, opinion and expression and knowledge are rights of the press and the public;

c) balanced presentation of issues in an objective and comprehensive manner;

d) accuracy, integrity and objectivity in presentation of news, analysis and commentary;

e) abstaining from publishing anything that may instigate violence, prejudice, bigotry or of anything which invites racism, sectarianism or provincialism.

 

Article 8

Concerned authorities will facilitate the journalists' and researchers' access to information regarding their projects, programmes and plans.

 

Article 9

a) The PPD will regulate foreign correspondents accreditation in accordance with the regulations issued for this purpose on condition of reciprocity;

b) Journalists are prohibited from having a working relationship with any foreign party outside the boundaries of the regulation provided for by sub-article A of this article.

 

Article 10

a) Any individual who does not meet the definition of journalist as stipulated in this law is prohibited from practising journalism in all its forms, including foreign correspondents, and should not present himself as such;

b) Publications are prohibited from employing individuals on a full-time basis, excluding trainees, who are not defined as journalists in accordance with the law;

c) Publications are prohibited from employing government employees without permission from the related department on the premise that this permission will be renewed annually by the minister through a request by the PPD director.

 

Licensing

Article 11

a) A licence for issuing a press publication is granted to:

1) journalists;

2) the press company that was established and registered for the purpose of issuing a press publication which shall not have more than 25 per cent of its equity from foreign sources;

3) a legalised political party.

b) taking into consideration paragraphs A) and B) of Article 13 of this law, press companies that have equity with more than Jordanian dinar (JD) one million can own more than one publication;

c) the Council of Ministers, upon the minister's recommendation will grant licenses for publications to the following parties: 1) The Jordan News Agency (Petra); 2) foreign news agencies on the principle of reciprocity and on the condition that the editor in chief is a Jordanian journalist.

 

Article 12

a) Application for a press publication's licence will be submitted to the PPD director with the following information:

1) name of the applicant, his location of residence and his address;

2) the name of the publication, the place of printing and issuance;

3) the type of publication (daily, weekly, monthly, or quarterly);

4) the type of material it intends to publish (politics, literature, economics, etc.);

5) the language(s) in which it will be issued;

6) name of the chief editor.

b) if the application lacks any of the above mentioned conditions, the PPD director must inform the applicant within a period of two weeks of the need to provide the needed documents. If the applicant fails to provide the missing information within a period of three months, the application is null and void.

 

Article 13

Regardless of what was stipulated in any other legislation, the conditions for granting a licence for publications concerns the minimum capital are the following:

a) the daily publication should pay a minimum capital of JD500,000;

b) non-daily publications should pay a minimum capital of JD150,000;

c) daily and non-daily publications issued by political parties are exempted from the equity required in paragraphs a) and b) of this article.

 

Article 14

The owner of a periodical shall submit a deposit or bank bond to the minister of information. The deposit or bank bond must be renewable to guarantee that fines or compensations or fees be paid as follows:

1) JD100,000 for dailies;

2) JD50,000 for non-dailies;

3) JD20,000 for non-specialised publications.

 

Article 15

a) applications for a specialised publication are submitted to the PPD director and should be based upon the application that is prepared by the PPD for this purpose.

b) if the application is missing any of the above conditions, the PPD director must inform the applicant within a period of two weeks to provide the required information. If the applicant does not provide the missing information within a period of three months, the application is considered null and void.

 

Article 16

The licence of a specialised publication is contingent upon equity of JD20,000 regardless of any other legislation.

 

Article 17

Exemptions to Articles 14 and 16 are the specialised publications issued by ministries, government departments and institutions, universities and private foundations that contribute to public welfare as approved by the minister upon the recommendation of the director.

 

Article 18

a) Applications for obtaining licences for: printing press, distribution agencies, publishing houses, study and research centres, polling centres, translation offices or advertising and promotional bureaux are submitted to the director;

b) Information and procedures relevant to the application for a licence in paragraph a) of this article including changes or modifications regarding the content of the licence or the transfer of the licence are defined by specific regulations issued on the basis of this law;

c) If the application is missing any of the above information, the PPD director must inform the applicant within a period of two weeks to provide the required information. If the applicant fails to provide the missing information within a period of three months, the application is considered null and void.

 

Article 19

All institutions specified in Article 18 of this law will have a responsible director who meets the following requirements:

a) carries Jordanian nationality and has a permanent residence within the Kingdom;

b) should not be convicted of either a misdemeanor or a felony related to dishonourable or immoral acts;

c) should not be a director of any other foundation or institution;

d) should hold a degree and have an experience to direct the foundation or the institution that he intends to direct in accordance with the regulations that the minister issues for this purpose.

 

Article 20

a) The Council of Ministers upon the minister's recommendation, will issue licenses for press publications in a period not exceeding 30 days from the date of application. The applicant will be informed within 15 days of the licences approval;

b) The minister will decide, upon the minister's recommendation on the licence of the specialised publication's within 30 days of the application submission and the applicant shall be informed within a period not exceeding 15 days of the minister's decision;

c) The minister shall decide on granting license applications for institutions mentioned in Article 18 of this law within 30 days of submitting the application and the applicants will be informed within a period not exceeding 15 days.

 

Article 21

In consideration of conditions stipulated in this law, a licence is granted for a press publication to the owner who can transfer this licence in part or in whole to others on condition that the PPD Director's prior permission is obtained in accordance with the following:

a) that the party wishing to cede ownership informs the director 30 days in advance of the transfer;

b) the recipient of the licence prescribes to the conditions of this law allowing partial or whole ownership of a publication;

c) the recipient submits a request to the director 30 days prior to the transfer process;

d) the transfer process shall be overseen by the PPD in accordance with directives issued by the minister.

 

Article 22

Periodicals' licences are considered null and void in the following instances:

a) if the periodical is not published within 30 days of the granting of the license;

b) if the periodical stops publishing for three consecutive months;

c) if a monthly does not publish for 12 consecutive months;

d) if a weekly does not publish for 12 consecutive weeks;

e) if its owner transfers ownership in part or in whole to a partner who does not prescribe to Article 21 of this law;

f) if the conditions of the issued licence have changed in terms of content or jurisdiction without having prior permission from the PPD director.

 

Article 23

If a publication owner's licence for a press publication is terminated in accordance with Article 22, he/she cannot submit an application for a new license before the passage of at least a year.

 

Regulations of periodicals and publications

Article 24

a) Periodicals must depend on financial support from legally-acknowledged sources and are prohibited from receiving financial support or directives from foreign parties or other countries;

b) The periodicals must provide the PPD Director with a copy of its annual budget, including information regarding financial sources and financial status.

 

Article 25

The periodical's owner should be:

a) A Jordanian national who have permanent residence in Jordan;

b) He/She should never have been convicted of a misdemeanour or felony related to immoral or dishonourable acts.

 

Article 26

The name of a periodical's owner, the chief editor who is responsible, place of issue, date of issue, subscription rates, name of printing house shall all be published in a clear place within the publication. Any modifications or changes must be reported to the PPD director within 15 days of the modification or change.

 

Article 27

a) The press publication shall have a responsible editor who will conform to the following:

1) has Jordanian nationality and has permanent residence in the Kingdom;

2) has worked in the field of journalism for at least ten years;

3) is a member of the JPA;

4) is not a responsible editor in another publication;

5) conducts no other work at the publication where he/she is the responsible editor;

6) must be proficient in the written and spoken language of the publication he is responsible for, and if he is to head a multi-lingual publication, he shall be proficient in the principle language of the publication and have sufficient knowledge of other languages;

7) never have been convicted of a misdemeanour or felony related to immoral or dishonourable acts;

b) With the exceptions of provisions 1, 4, 6, and 7 of paragraph A of this article these provisions are not applicable to chief editors of political party publications;

c) Responsible editors are liable for what is published in the publications they head, as are owners of the publication, and the writer(s) of the article;

d) Periodicals shall not have more than one chief editor.

 

Article 28

a) Responsible chief editors are absolved of the above-mentioned obligations at publications they head if they:

1) resign;

2) no longer meet one or more provisions of Article 27 of this law;

3) Do not go to work for two consecutive months without a sufficient justification submitted to the director of the PPD.

b) If any of the above-mentioned of paragraph a) occur, the owner of the publication must appoint a new responsible chief editor within 60 days.

 

Article 29

If the responsible editor is changed, the owner of the publication bears complete responsibility of what is published until the new responsible editor assumes his post.

 

Article 30

For every specialised publication there shall be a responsible editor in accordance with the following:

1) a Jordanian national;

2) holds an academic degree in the field directly related to the specialisation of the journal or has no less than five years accredited experience in the specified domain approved by the minister upon recommendation of the PPD director;

3) never have been convicted of a misdemeanour or felony related to immoral or dishonourable acts.

 

Article 31

a) A specialised publication is prohibited from publishing anything outside its specified domain without prior permission from the minister as requested by the PPD director;

b) Any specialised publication is obligated to provide the PPD with five copies upon the publication of each issue.

 

Article 32

a) If a publication publishes a false news report or item that includes false information, the party suffering the damages has the right to reply to the report or item by demanding that either their reply or a correction be published in the same place on the following day and at no charge. The responsible chief editor is obligated to comply;

b) If a publication publishes a false news report or item that includes false information relating to public interest, the responsible chief editor will publish free of charge the reply or correction that is sent from the related party from the department director in the following issue in the same place that the item appeared in the publication;

c) These provisions and paragraph c) of Article 54 of this law are applicable to foreign media and their correspondents.

 

Article 33

The responsible chief editor has the right to refuse publication of the reply or correction provided for in Article 32 of this law in the following situations:

a) If the publication has published a news report correcting the false information before the reply is sent to the publication;

b) If the reply or correction is signed with a false signature or is sent in a language other than that of the news item;

c) If the content of the reply violates the law or the general order or contradicts public morals.

 

Article 34

a) If editors in charge of a publication issued from outside the Kingdom but distributed in the country refuses to publish the reply or correction in accordance with Article 32 of this law, the director of the PPD has the right to bar the entrance of the publication to the Kingdom for two weeks and can request a longer period from the minister. The director also has the right to sue the publication and its correspondents;

b) These provisions apply to any foreign media.

 

Article 35

a) Responsible chief editors are prohibited from publishing articles for individuals with aliases unless they have knowledge of the author's real name;

b) If a publication publishes promotional features or news reports for any party for money, the publication should clearly state that the item is promotional material.

 

Article 36

a) Owners of bookstores or distribution agencies or publishing houses must submit two copies of each issue of a publication that they received from outside of the Kingdom before distribution or sale;

b) The director of the PPD has the right to refuse the distribution or sale of the mentioned items and prohibit the entrance of these items to the Kingdom if they contain material that contradict this law.

 

Article 37

The names of the author, publisher and printing press, the date of publication must appear clearly in the publication of each issue.

 

Article 38

The articles of this law do not apply to publications imported by governmental departments and institutions, universities, or scientific research centres as long as prior permission is obtained from the PPD director for their entrance into the Kingdom and that they be located at special places for the use of scientific research.

 

Article 39

The owner of the printing press or its responsible director including printing presses for newspapers comply with the following:

a) preserve a register showing the publications in print and the number of printed copies;

b) preserve register showing the addresses of publications that it prints, names of their owners and number of copies of each publication;

c) these registers will be presented to the PPD director upon his request;

d) two copies of each non-periodical publication will be submitted to the PPD director prior to distribution.

 

Article 40

a) Two copies of any book that is printed in the Kingdom must be submitted to the PPD director prior to its printing. The director has the right to approve or prohibit printing if the book contains material that contradicts the law and must inform the author of his decision within a period not exceeding one month;

b) The PPD director has the right to revoke licences for any book(s) or manuscript(s) if its author(s) contradict a condition of licence by adding or subtracting material and the PPD director has the right to confiscate all copies.

 

Prohibitions

Article 41

a) Owners of printing presses and their responsible directors are prohibited from printing any publication that has been previously banned from being printed, published, distributed or sold. They are also prohibited from printing or distributing any unlicensed publication.

b) Printing any picture or any material without obtaining written permission from the author is prohibited and the PPD director has the right to confiscate all copies.

 

Article 42

a) Printing presses are prohibited from publishing or reprinting news, articles, analyses, information, reports, speeches, pictures, or drawings in any form or manner if they:

1) disparage the King or the Royal Family;

2) are related to the Jordanian Armed Forces or Security Forces unless permission is otherwise obtained from the related authority or an official government spokesman;

3) infringes on the independence of the judiciary and its procedures;

4) degrades any religion or religious sect whose freedom is guaranteed by the Constitution;

5) harm national security, incite individuals to commit crime, sow dissension, or foment hatred within society;

6) harms the dignity, personal freedom or reputation of individuals;

7) includes the degradation, libel and slander of heads of Arab, Islamic or friendly states or results in the disruption of ties between the Kingdom and other countries, on the basis of reciprocity;

8) promotes perversion or results in corruption of morals;

9) includes false information or rumours that harm the common good or the nation's security departments or their employees without sufficient evidence;

10) includes information on Parliament secret sessions without permission;

11) governmental documents of confidential nature;

12) shakes confidence in the national currency;

13) advertisements that promote medicine not licensed by the Ministry of Health;

14) instigates strikes, sit-ins or public gatherings.

b) The PPD director has the right to prohibit the entrance of foreign publications if they violate any of the above mentioned items under this law or any other law.

 

Article 43

a) Reprints and excerpted material will be dealt with in the same way the law deals with original scripts in accordance with the provisions of Article 42 and 44 of this law and are liable for the same penalties;

b) The provisions of paragraph a) of Article 53 of this law are applicable to foreign correspondents if they violate the provisions of Article 42 or Article 44 of this law.

 

Article 44

a) Publications are prohibited from publishing any information related to an ongoing investigation, court case, or crime committed in the Kingdom unless permission is obtained from the General Prosecutor;

b) Minutes of court proceedings are prohibited from being published before a final ruling is issued unless permission from the court is obtained;

c) Penalties provided in section 3) or paragraph a) of Article 53 of this law are applicable to foreign correspondents who contradict the provisions of paragraph a) of this article.

 

Article 45

Owners of a publication, responsible chief editors or any other editors, reporters or writers are prohibited from receiving any financial assistance from any non-Jordanian party.

 

Article 46

Study and research centres, polling centres, individuals employed in such institutions are prohibited from receiving any financial assistance or support from any non-Jordanian party. The PPD director has the right to close down these foundations for a period of no less than three months and no less than six months if they contradict this provision and has the right to apply the penalty stipulated in section 1), paragraph a) of Article 53 of this law.

 

Court Procedures

Article 47

a) The Court of First Instance has jurisdiction to review violations not provided for in this law. The General Prosecutor will investigate these cases and issue appropriate decisions in accordance with the current Code of Fundamentals of Criminal court Procedures and the Penal Law. The court will give all cases pertaining to press violations priority as rulings should be decided upon within a three-month period.

b) Cases of violation of public rights as provided for by this law shall be raised against the owner of the publication, the responsible chief editor, the writer and any other person involved in the publication of the article. These parties are also responsible for infractions of private rights and court expenditures.

c) Cases of violation of public rights for non-periodicals as provided for by this law are raised against writers and publishers. If the author and publisher of the non-periodical are not known the printing press owner and director will be liable for the penal case.

 

Article 48

The director must file a case in coordination with the concerned authority if the published or printed material harms a ministry, or one of its departments, or official institution or infringes on the authority of the state or public morals.

 

Article 49

If the publication prints material that harms national security or interest or infringes upon the Constitution the PPD director must file an urgent lawsuit at the Court of First Instance and has the right to ask the court to suspend the publication of the newspaper within 24-hours, pending a final ruling.

 

Article 50

Owners of printing presses, bookstores, publication and distribution houses are responsible for infractions of private rights and for covering court expenses, as provided in this law.

 

Article 51

The court has the right to order the defendant to publish the final ruling or the brief of it free of charge, in the first issue of the periodical following the ruling. The ruling or brief will be published in the same place within the publication as the offending article. Moreover, if the court sees fit that the publication of the ruling or brief is necessary in two additional publications, the defendant is liable for costs.

 

Article 52

a) If the responsible chief editor of a publication violates paragraphs a) or b) or Article 32 of this law, a case may be filed against him by the injured party or director of the PPD;

b) If a foreign publication violates paragraph c) of Article 32 of this law, the PPD director has the right to raise a lawsuit against the publication or its correspondents.

 

Penalties

Article 53

a1) violators of paragraph a) of Article 24 of this law shall be fined no less than JD30,000 and no more than JD50,000. In addition the funds obtained by the publication shall be confiscated and deposited in the national treasury;

a2) The owner of the periodical is liable for fines of no less than JD3,000 and no more than JD5,000 if he fails to comply with paragraph b) of Article 24. The PPD director can request the suspension of the periodical until the owner complies with the provision, through a court ruling obtained 24 hours of filing the suit;

a3) Violators of articles 42 and 44 of this law are liable for a fine of no less than JD15,000 and no more than JD25,000;

a4) Violators of Article 45 are liable for a fine of no less than JD15,000 and no more than JD25,000. In addition, the obtained funds will be confiscated and deposited in the national treasury;

a5) Violations of the provisions of articles 42 and 44 of this law will result in the suspension of the publication by court order. The minister reverse the suspension once fines are paid in accordance with guarantees and conditions that the minister requests.

b1) A court can suspend a publication for a period of no less than three months and no more than a year, in addition to applying penalties stipulated in this law, if violations of sections 1), 3) and 4) of paragraph a) of this article are repeated within a period of three years;

b2) A court can revoke the licence of a publication if any violations of sections 1), 3) or 4) of paragraph a) of this article are repeated for a third time within a period of five years.

 

Article 54

a) The defendant is liable for a fine of no less than JD500 and no more than JD1,500 for violations of Article 51, and he is liable for publishing the ruling that he refused to publish at his own cost;

b) Smuggling in illegal publications and distributing them results in fines of no less than JD2,000 and no more than JD3,000, and confiscation of the copies;

c) Violators of articles 7,9, 10, 26, 32, 35, 36, 37, 39, 41 of this law are liable for fines no less than JD3,000 and no more than JD5,000, and repetition of violations will result in an increased penalty.

 

Article 55

a) The issuance of a periodical publication prior to meeting licensing conditions will result in fines no less than JD10,000 and no more than JD15,000. Violators will be prohibited from receiving a licence for a period of no less than one year. Moreover, responsible chief editors of these publications are prohibited from assuming positions at other publications for a period of no less than one year;

b) If permission is not obtained as stipulated in paragraph a) of Article 18 of this law from the PPD, violators are liable for a fine of no less than JD10,000. Penalties also will include the closure of the publication and the confiscation of its assets through a court ruling.

 

General Provisions

Article 56

a) If the violation constitutes a crime according to any other law, the perpetrator will receive the highest of two penalties rendered in this law or the other law;

b) The PPD director will prepare a register of violations by any publication or foundation for the purposes of this law.

 

Article 57

a) Owners of periodicals must comply with this law within 60 days of its effectiveness;

b) Any publication not complying with paragraph a) of this article will be suspended. If it continues without compliance for a further 30 days from the date of suspension, its licence is null and void;

c) If any of conditions of Article 18 regarding the issuance of licenses for specialised publications are violated or become invalid, the PPD director shall demand that the publication comply within 60 days or its application will be null and void;

d) Institutions in Article 18 of this law must comply with its provisions within a period not exceeding 60 days of the laws publication in the Official Gazette.

 

Article 58

The Council of Ministers will issue regulations to implement this law including the definition of fees and reimbursements that the PPD director obtains upon the application of this law.

 

Article 59

The Press and Publications Law No. 10 for 1993 and its amendments are null and void.

 

Article 60

The prime minister and his ministerial team are responsible for the application of the provision of this law.