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Jordan slips one place in world press freedom rankings

Experts urge gov’t to facilitate free flow of information

By Maria Weldali - May 04,2021 - Last updated at May 04,2021

AMMAN — Jordan ranks 129th out of 180 nations in press freedom, slipping one place in the 2021 World Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

In this year’s index, which shows that journalism is totally blocked in 73 per cent of the evaluated countries, Jordan is just behind Qatar and ahead of Zimbabwe, ranking 7th among the Arab states.

In Jordan, journalists practise self-censorship and one of the challenges they face is the issuance of “gag orders” by authorities, prohibiting them from covering certain issues, according to the RSF.

In remarks to The Jordan Times on Monday, Acting President of the Jordan Press Association (JPA) Yanal Barmawi said that amid the ongoing pandemic, World Press Freedom Day, which falls on May 3, acts as a reminder to eliminate constraints on public and press freedoms.

The theme of this year’s World Press Freedom Day Information as a Public Good, “emphasizes the importance of enhancing the role of journalism as a key element of control between officials and the public,” Barmawi said.

World Press Freedom Day is celebrated in conjunction with trends towards political and democratic reform that requires freedom of information as an essential precondition to apply the principles of “good governance”, as well as ensure the flow of trustworthy information to the public, he added.

“It is critical to take proper action in respect to freedom of journalism and remove the challenges and obstacles facing media coverage, particularly those related to the current pandemic,” Barmawi said.

Meanwhile, founder and member of the Centre for Defending Freedoms of Journalists (CDFJ) Nidal Mansour said that it is imperative that the government diagnoses the journalistic situation in the Kingdom and “swiftly” proposes appropriate solutions that would improve the freedom of the press.

“In times of a pandemic, journalism is a key element in dealing with crises and countering the outbreak of disinformation, but Jordan did not make proper use of that fundamental element,” Mansour told The Jordan Times.

On the same note, RSF Secretary-General Christophe Deloire said that “journalism is the best vaccine against disinformation”, noting that its production and distribution are “too often” blocked by political, economic, technological and, sometimes, cultural factors.

“Unfortunately Jordan is not strongly positioned in the journalistic scene”, due to the absence of legislative framework that ensures the flow of credible, trusted and diverse information that is produced in different media outlets, Mansour pointed out.

The journalistic situation in Jordan is “worrying”, he said.

Published every year since 2002 by the RSF, an international non-profit and non-governmental organisation promoting and defending the right to freedom of information, the index is regarded to be “an important advocacy tool based on the principle of emulation between states, the evaluation of pluralism, independence of the media, quality of legislative framework and safety of journalists”.


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