People watch political news in Amman, Jordan, on April 4, 2021. The country recently issued a ban on coverage and commentary regarding a dispute within the royal family. (AFP/Khalil Mazraawi)

Jordan issues ban on media coverage of royal family dispute

New York, April 6, 2021 – Jordanian authorities should allow journalists and media outlets to report freely on all issues, and should rescind a ban on coverage of a dispute within the royal family, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

“Whenever there is a hint of a sensitive story, Jordanian authorities’ first instinct is seemingly to close the curtains to the press,” said CPJ Senior Middle East and North Africa Researcher Justin Shilad. “Amman’s public prosecutor should rescind today’s gag order on news about a dispute within the royal family, and allow journalists to report on the stories important to the Jordanian public.”

Earlier today, Amman Public Prosecutor Hassan al-Abdallat issued a ban on the publication of any information relating to Prince Hamzah bin Hussein, including photos, audio, video, and social media posts, according to reports by The Washington Post and Jordan’s state-run Petra news agency. On April 4, bin Hussein, formerly Jordan’s crown prince, passed a statement to the BBC saying that he had been placed under house arrest for allegedly participating in a coup against King Abdullah II.

The ban was issued to “preserve the confidentiality of investigations,” and is in effect indefinitely, according to the Petra report.

Jordanian authorities have previously detained journalists for reporting on issues such as the COVID-19 pandemic and normalization agreements between Israel and the U.A.E., as CPJ has documented. Al-Abdallat issued a media gag order in July 2020 after a series of protests and strikes led by Jordan’s Teachers Syndicate, according to news reports.