Legislative Contradictions

It all started in 1450 when Gutenberg invented the printing press. It’s 557 years later and the latest draft for the Press And Publications Law in Jordan has seen very few changes since it was put on the debating table a month ago to resolve the biggest contradiction quite possibly in Jordanian legislative history. Or at least one of the more absurd ones.

Article 30 of the draft law states essentially that journalists cannot be imprisoned for what they say. Splendid.

But it goes on to say that other legislation should also be observed. What this means essentially is: under this new law a journalist cannot be jailed but actually…yeah…wait…he can be jailed under other laws that allow for the imprisonment of journalists. There are currently 24 such related laws.

There are moments when I think, really, what’s the point? Can’t we just call it a ball game and all go home?

Anyways over a month has gone by with no attempt to resolve the contradiction.

It’s 2007. There’s the Internet, blogs, newspapers, satellite TV with 500 news channels. You would think we’ve reached a point in our history when throwing people in jail for their criticisms has become obsolete.


Another debate is nearing an end: how big of a raise to give public servants. It’s gone from 20 JDs to an expected minimum of 12 JDs which is enough to buy very little. The total expected cost is 90 million JDs, which is to be carried on the budget.

In all honesty public servants make some of the lowest wages in the country and while 12JDs may be a very, very small raise, it is money well spent.

In contrast: the government just took a loan from the Social Security fund for 100 million JDs.

To build embassies and homes for ambassadors.

The Social Security fund (the government) has defended the loan by essentially arguing it would save the country money in the long run as it costs the Foreign Ministry 3.5 million a year to rent embassies and homes for ambassadors.

So in about 29 years, when my generation is close to retirement, the Foreign Ministry will have broken even. Whether the fund will still be around is up for grabs.


  • I just want to understand, even if people have freedom of speech in Jordan what does the government think it will cause? Really? I know it’s a naive question, but it will cause nothing, on the contrary, it will help make Jordan a better place, this new law is absurd, I think they just drafted it to make some human rights agencies happy, but they are fooling no one.


    By the way, min rooboo3 Canada, happy anniversary :). It will be a sad day for me if you stop blogging, 3anjad mish 3am bamza7, so keep it up please.

  • 7aki Fadi, the affects of freedom of speech are unpredictable in any situation. in jordan i would expect it to increase transparency as well as accountability amongst many many things.


  • Regarding the publications law the Parliament is to blame here. The so-called “national steering commmittee” headed by former intelligence officer, current publisher and pseudo-arab national Mahmoud Kharabsheh introduced the improsinment article to the draft presented by the governemnt which was not enthusiastic to argue aginst this addition.
    The committee justified their decision with the argument that the imprisonment will be aplied for publishing “blasphamy” and threatening national security!!
    As for the salaries they will be heavily increased for the deputies, ministers and secretary generals and 1st level employees (general directors).
    It is the cake divided between the people at the top of the pyramid.

  • Batir: yeah i read about this. threatening national security is something i can get on board with, i.e. revealing state secrets that therefore put millions of lives at risk. but they seem to be leaning towards a context of “negatively affecting Jordan’s political relationship with foreign countries” when they talk about national security, which is insane because with Israel and the US on that list criticism is not only inevitable but also such it becomes such a gray area that will depend on the times and the mood of the courts.

    some would argue this is the lower house making use of its final hours in session to do some electioneering for upcoming elections. and some would argue it’s the governments’ last push at get a good retirement package for itself in its final hours in power.

    i would argue it being both.

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