Legal, Rights Activists Demand Dialogue on Electronic Crimes Law

AMMAN —AlGhad— Legal and rights activists are demanding the launch of a national dialogue on the amendments to the electronic crimes law, which is up for discussion under the dome in the upcoming extraordinary parliamentary session.

Speaking to AlGhad, Chairman of the Jordan Bar Association Mazen Ersheidat said that Jordan’s next phase is one of dialogue and shifts in the policy-making approach.

These amendments do not go along with the principles of dialogue, which is the highlight of Dr Omar Razzaz’s new agenda, he stated.

According to Ersheidat, the law constitutes a solid threat to the constitutional right of expression and opinion, and has to be revisited.

Legal activists like Nour Emam said Jordan is entering a new stage of political, economic reforms, and the “proposed law will only tighten the noose on the citizens’ expression rights, which are guaranteed by the constitution.”

These amendments were not discussed with legal and rights activists, nor the civil society, despite the fact the they have introduced new concepts to the Jordanian law, she said.

For example, hate speech, according to the proposed electronic crimes law amendments varies significantly from the internationally agreed definition, Emam underlined.

Samah Marmash, lawyer and legal activist, reiterates the argument, stating that such laws must be constructed with extreme caution not to constrain legal expression.

The definition of hate speech entails aggressive speech, inciting hate, on the basis of nationality, race or religion, and any such speech —to be legally considered hate speech— must entail a call for discrimination, hostility or violence, Marmash explained.

Lawyers without borders member Muath Momani uncovered that the global organisation is currently preparing a paper on alternative laws for the amendments. Ones that do not restrain legal expression and opinion.

The law must be revisited and reproduced in accordance to international standards, particularly in regards to the right of expression and opinion, he said.

Loosely defined concepts in such a law lead to misuse and exploitation, Momani warned.

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