June 19, 2013
His Excellency Dr. Abdullah Ensour
Office of the Prime Minister
Via email: [email protected]
Dear Prime Minister Ensour,
We are writing to express our concern about the implications of Jordan’s Press and Publications Law, which was amended last year and used most recently to block more than 300 websites.
The measure seems at odds with King Abdullah’s vision of democratic reform. “The Arab Spring and its call for human dignity has become the voice of our century,” he said last month. “This is a reason to stand proud, but we cannot stand still. Reform, democracy and peace are always work in progress.”
We believe that the call for human dignity cannot be fully heard without a vibrant and free press. Just last month at the International Press Institute’s World Congress in Amman, you hailed the importance of the press as “an essential part of Jordan’s future.” You also extended an invitation to an open debate over the legislation, which you voted against as a member of parliament.
A debate that includes full consultation with media, legal, and human rights representatives would be a welcome step in pursuing a path toward reform. As part of that debate, we ask that you and other leaders consider other repressive aspects of the Press and Publications Law, which include increased restrictions to online media and regulations on comments posted to websites.
The troubling implications of the law were illustrated most recently this month when the government blocked hundreds of domestic and international websites, including some of the most popular news sources in the country.
The law and these blocking orders threaten the vital role of online media in Jordanian society. We urge you to use the power of your office to push parliament to revise this highly restrictive law and to overturn your government’s decision to block the websites. The Jordanian press should be allowed to work freely without intimidation or censure from authorities.
His Excellency Mohammad al-Momani, Minister of Information
His Excellency Mohammad Azzat Ta’ani, Executive Director Telecommunications Regulatory Authority
His Excellency Fayez Shawabkeh, Director Department of Press and Publications
Her Excellency Dr. Alia Hatoug Bouran, Jordanian Ambassador to the United States
The Honorable Stuart Jones, United States Ambassador to the Kingdom of Jordan
The Honorable Joanna Wronecka, Head of European Union Delegation to the Kingdom of Jordan