Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Press freedoms get more restricted in Syria, Jordan

Al Quds al Arabi reports on Syrian threats to shut down many periodicals.

The official reason is that the publications that say they are weekly or biweekly or monthly often miss their deadlines because of a severe shortage of advertisers. The official goal of the new rule is to force publications to meet their schedules.

Although Al Quds does not ascribe any political motives to this threat, one could imagine that the private Syrian periodicals are the ones that have the cash-flow and timing problems, not the government papers and magazines.

Meanwhile, in Jordan, a new law that was ostensibly meant to crack down on cyber-crimes includes provisions that would seriously impact what news may be reported.

According to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists,

[T]he law provides authorities with sweeping powers to restrict the flow of information and limit public debate. Article 8 penalizes "sending or posting data or information via the Internet or any information system that involves defamation or contempt or slander," without defining what constitutes those crimes. Article 12 penalizes obtaining "data or information not available to the public, concerning national security or foreign relations of the kingdom, public safety or the national economy" from a website without a permit. Article 13 allows for law enforcement officers to search the offices of websites and access their computers without prior approval from public prosecutors.