Infographic: Legislative Limits on Freedom of Expression in Jordan

November 10, 2013

Prepared by Hussam Da’nah and Reem AlMasri 

One of the United Nation Human Rights Council’s recommendations, which Jordan rejected after the comprehensive review session in Genève last month, undertook amendments to article 149 of the Penal Code, to prevent the article’s use in prosecuting political activists. The article states that:

“Anyone who undertakes action that may lead to undermining the kingdom’s political regime or incite to oppose it, and anyone who commits (individual or collective) action with the purpose of altering the economic or social structure of the state, or society’s fundamental conditions, is punishable by temporary hard labor.”

Based on article 149, more than seventy political activists currently stand in the State Security Court with charges against them such as “undermining the regime” or “inciting to oppose it”. However, this is not the only article in the Jordanian constitution that incriminates expression. Jordanian laws encompass crimes such as “Lèse-majesté”, “breaching the dignity of the state”, and “disturbing diplomatic relations”, among many others.

Religion is another out of bounds subject within Jordanian laws. Legislators have not only incorporated articles in the Penal Code that criminalize insulting religious sensibilities and religious figures, but have also included articles in the “Press and Publications Law” to prohibit publishing what might be in “conflict with the values of the Islamic and Arab nation.”

Jordanian law also protects individuals from “libel, defamation, and slander” and the Penal Code contains detailed articles concerning this subject; however, these articles are sometimes used to prosecute individuals who criticize current or previous governmental officials.

These mentioned articles and others in the Jordanian constitution which may be used to limit the freedom of expression are illustrated in the infographic below. Also included are examples of cases where these articles have been used for prosecution. To see the infographic in full size, click on the image.

To read the original in Arabic, click here.

Translated by Siwar Masannat

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