Jordan to rethink controversial cybercrimes law

The Jordanian government said it will withdraw the cybercrime draft law, which was referred to the Lower House by the previous government. (File photo/Shutterstock)
Updated 10 December 2018
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Jordan to rethink controversial cybercrimes law

AMMAN: Jordan is to withdraw proposed amendments to a cybercrimes bill submitted to parliament that rights activists say would stifle freedom of expression, the government spokesman said on Sunday.
The bill has angered broad swathes of public opinion, including demonstrators who took to the streets in the last 10 days to protest against IMF-backed austerity measures, who say the proposed law will silence dissent in social media.
The legislation sent to parliament last September will be resubmitted only after the government has engaged with civil society representatives and experts, spokesman Jumana Ghunaimat told the state news agency Petra.
“The government will study again the draft law before redrafting it in light of existing laws,” Ghunaimat said.
Two officials said Prime Minister Omar Razzaz’s move to pull the cybercrimes law was intended to defuse a crisis that could cause a repeat of the big protests last summer over tax rises that brought down his predecessor.
Activists are calling for a major protest on Thursday against austerity measures and the IMF-backed tax law passed last month by the mainly pro-government parliament.
Amnesty International last month said the proposed amendments to the cybercrimes law passed in 2015 would “deal a devastating blow to freedom of expression in Jordan.”
Rights activists say the amendments include criminalizing hate speech using too broad a definition of the offense and introducing tougher penalties such as longer prison terms for online crimes.
“The proposed changes to Jordan’s already flawed cybercrimes law are extremely worrying. Instead of taking steps to protect people’s rights online the authorities appear to be moving backwards, introducing changes that would further suppress freedom of expression,” said Heba Morayef, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Director.
“Jordan’s authorities have an appalling track record when it comes to silencing critics both on and offline,” Morayef added.
With print and broadcast media loyal to the state and no major organized opposition political parties, social media has become a channel for dissent.
Officials have said there was a need for tougher laws with the Internet being used to slander politicians and incite social discord.
King Abdullah, without referring to the bill, has also supported tightening online laws, saying unfair accusations against officials had paralyzed government decision-making.


Syrian Kurds accuse Assad of policy of ‘oppression and violence’

Syrian Defense Minister Ali Ayoub, above, said the government is determined to return the Kurdish-led areas. (AFP)
Updated 45 min 15 sec ago
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Syrian Kurds accuse Assad of policy of ‘oppression and violence’

  • Syrian defence minister made the remarks during a press conference on Monday

BEIRUT: The Syrian government’s threat to recover the Kurdish-led region of northern Syria through force unless it submits to state rule shows Damascus is determined to pursue a policy of “oppression and violence,” the Kurdish-led administration said.
The threat was made by Syria’s defence minister at a news conference on Monday alongside his Iranian and Iraqi counterparts. The US-allied Kurdish-led administration said the statements showed Damascus wanted to “avoid peaceful, democratic solutions” to the Syrian conflict.