AMMAN — A group of online media publishers on Monday filed a lawsuit at the Higher Court of Justice calling for annulling of a government decision that blocked their news websites, according to a statement they issued.

The Higher Court of Justice serves as an administrative court and is concerned with looking into contestations to decisions made by the government or any of its agencies.

The lawsuit challenges Article 49 of the Press and Publications Law, which gives authority to the director of the Press and Publications Department (PPD) to block any local news website that does not abide by the law.

This article also stipulates that the owners of news websites must register their online platforms at the PPD.

The move reflects online media stakeholders’ rejection of the new amendments to the law in question, according to the statement. The publishers said the new law poses more restrictions to the freedom of the press.

The amended law gives the government powers to regulate “electronic publications”, requiring them to register with the PPD and obtain a licence.

It stipulates that the chief editors of news websites must be members of the Jordan Press Association, and holds journalists liable for comments posted on webpages.

The PPD has insisted “the decision does not seek to restrict freedoms”, and that “the objective is to organise the work of these websites”.

Around 200 local websites out of a total of 400 have been blocked so far since early June.