Jordanian Activists Detained for Criticizing King Abdullah II
Freedom House calls for the release of four Jordanian activists detained for criticizing King Abdullah II; if convicted, the activists could face up to three years in prison.
Saed al-Awran, Yasser al-Sabalyeh, Fady al-Ubaideen, and Majdy al-Kabayleen, all members of the Committee of al-Tafila's Free Action, were detained on March 6, 2012 after participating in a sit-in calling for increased job opportunities for the unemployed. They were charged with “disrespecting the king,” a charge that carries a prison sentence of three years. Demonstrations have occurred frequently in the Al-Tafila district of Amman, where protesters are demanding more employment opportunities and less corruption. According to the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, the latest arrests bring the total number to 25 district residents detained.
“The abuse of laws by Jordanian officials to target its critics is deeply troubling and undermines respect for fundamental freedoms,” said Courtney C. Radsch, program manager for the Global Freedom of Expression Campaign at Freedom House. “Suppressing free expression prevents discussion of the serious issues Jordanians face in their daily lives. Freedom House urges the Jordanian government to foster an environment where its citizens can speak freely without fear of arrest.”
Charges against Jordanian citizens for “offending the king” occur regularly. In 2010, a student was arrested for comments made in an online chat with a friend. Jordanian authorities have used force to suppress free expression – in June 2011, riot police dispersed a rally of nearly 2,000 demonstrators using clubs and batons, injuring at least ten journalists. While a government code of conduct intends to foster a “free and independent media,” journalists also have faced harassment. In February 2012, a Jordanian blogger was stabbed after criticizing one of the royal family members.
Jordan is ranked “Not Free” in Freedom House’s Freedom in the World 2011 survey, “Partly Free” in its Freedom of the Press 2011 survey and “Partly Free” in Freedom on the Net 2011.
To learn more about Jordan, visit:
Freedom in the World 2011: Jordan
Freedom of the Press 2011: Jordan
Freedom on the Net: 2011: Jordan
Women’s Rights Survey 2010: Jordan
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