AMMAN — Media freedom is “restricted” in Jordan, according to the 2020 Media Freedom Status Index by the Centre for Defending Freedoms of Journalists (CDFJ).

“The CDFJ has sought to establish national indicators that give methodological guides to the situation of the press in Jordan,” according to the index.

Jordan scored 227.3 points out of 570 in the 2020 Media Freedom Status Index, which is composed of 57 questions that were asked to 110 media representatives of different Jordanian news outlets. The results depended on the analysis of responses by experts in the fields of law, media and human rights.

The 2020 index was built on five fixed variables including the political environment, the legislative environment, the right to information, the protection of journalists and the impunity for violations against them, media freedom, in addition to changing variables that are related to the ongoing pandemic.

On Monday, Acting President of the Jordan Press Association (JPA) Yanal Barmawi told The Jordan Times that supporting media freedom and independence is one of the key functions of the JPA, in order for the Jordanian media to fully and professionally play its role.

Constant endeavours are made to eliminate the restrictions that limit public freedoms and the independence of the Jordanian media, Barmawi said.

Meanwhile the index showed that the political environment restricts media freedom and does not constitute a supporting framework, whereas the respondents found that the government does not support media through its programmes or on the ground.

“The last strategy that was developed to support the media in Jordan was back in 2011 during the Arab Spring, which ended five years later without achieving any significant advance,” the index said. It noted that the government does not draw up a defined scenario or a detailed operational plan within a specific time frame when dealing with media challenges.

The government and the security agencies do not “blatantly” interfere in the work of the media, according to the respondents who added that “the truth is media outlets alone know what is allowed and what is not allowed”, which is something that whoever works closely with the media realises and becomes aware of.

Jordan is rated “Not Free” in the 2021 Freedom in the World, Freedom House’s annual study of political rights and civil liberties worldwide.

Freedom House is a non-profit and non-governmental organisation that focuses on conducting research on democracy, political freedom and human rights.

The study said that “Jordanian media laws are restrictive, vague and arbitrarily enforced”, adding that government gag orders are common.

Among the recommendations made in the index include: The preparation of a media strategy together with stakeholders in an effort to achieve reform in the legislative and political environments, and the adoption of independent laws for news outlets that would safeguard their independence from the executive power.

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