- The Penal Code includes legal articles that cover all crimes, and we are worried that the freedom of expression will be constricted due to the difficulty of devising a disciplined definition of hate crime.
- Thinking about forcing communications companies to take measures to interfere in the social media content is not reasonable and will fail.
- Confronting the hate speech succeeds by guaranteeing the right to acquire information and the flow of credible information.
CDFJ called on the government to consult with experts, specialists, and representatives of the civil society before going ahead to putting forward legislation related to social media and the hate speech.
CDFJ emphasized in a statement it issued “the need for the government to be careful so as not to affect the freedom of expression on the pretext of protecting society from the hate speech.”
The statement said: “We do not know precisely what the government wants now, and do not know who it listened to and with whom it consulted, and whether it tends to pass legislation related to social media or the hate speech, or on what it bases its trends, and before that, what are the reasons requiring these laws?”
CDFJ declared its opposition to the approach to ratify a social media law, or a law to stop hate speech, emphasizing at the same time its categorical rejection of hate speech and incitement of violence.
CDFJ attributed its rejection to the following reasons:
First: There is a sufficient legislative umbrella to pursue those who are accused of the hate speech. The evidence to this is that 12 suspects of abuse towards the Jordanian victims in the terrorist operation that took place in Istanbul were legally pursued. Before that, a number of people were legally pursued after the crime of killing Nahed Hattar. This indicates clearly that the articles of the law assist the law enforcement parties in legally pursuing its violators and holding them responsible.
Second: The penal code includes legal articles that criminalize a number of acts like slander and defamation of public employees and individuals, bad-mouthing prophets and patrons of religions, the hate speech and inciting racism and sectarian, undermining the regime, describing Jordanians in a degrading manner, insulting the financial status and the local currency, let alone the electronic crimes law, the information systems law, the electronic transactions law, the anti-terrorism law, the contempt of courts law, in addition to laws related to media outlets and the press and publications and the audio-visual media law. This arsenal of legislation and legal material indicate that there is no need for new laws to pursue those who abuse social media or spread hate, and raises question marks regarding the incentives and reasons behind these laws.
Third: We are worried about the government’s use of new legislation that contribute to restricting the freedom of expression, which is the foremost main right that deserves support, especially that there is no disciplined definition of the hate speech even on the level of international efforts. Most Jordanian legislation are maligned for the lack of controls in using terms, which permits their use to pressure those who criticize the government policies and its opposition.
Fourth: When enacting legislation, the government does not commit to principles and standards included in international legislation ratified by Jordan, which transcend the national laws. Hence, we are worried that these attempts to stop hate speech through legislation will result in bullying of the freedom of expression and eventually stifling it, which is unacceptable and rejected regardless of incentives, justification, and excuses.
Fifth: Government experiences indicate that a number of legislation previously ratified took a turn towards restricting rights. The last of these evidences was the Press and Publications Law, which forced websites prior licensing, contrary to what is followed in most countries of the world. After that, there was the Electronic Crimes Law in its Article 11 to return the detention and prison penalty against media practitioners, expanding it to include social communications media users.
Sixth: Confronting hate speech and the media chaos, and the increasing rumors will succeed more if the state guarantees the right to knowledge and access of information, as well as the regular voluntary prior disclosure of credible information.
Seventh: Social media companies such as Facebook and Twitter provide its users with mechanisms to submit complaints related to the content, especially hate speech and incitement of violence. The government, its institutions, and users could resort to submitting complaints effectively and to pursue them in order to confront these violations and reduce them.
CDFJ’s CEO Nidal Mansur demanded that the government move quickly to hold a meeting to discuss international experiences and best practices to reduce hate speech through social media, and to stop hastening to ratify new legislation that proved by experience to have failed in solving problems.
He pointed out that “contemplating the imposition of constraints on social media users or forcing media companies to take measures that permit interference in in the content is not a reasonable context, and will stumble and fall. It will not be possible to realize it in view of the presence of millions of users.” He pointed out that there are no agreements between me companies that supply internet services, and international companies such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapshot, LinkedIn, etc.), and that these companies implement the same standards throughout the world.
He cautioned that prosecutions of social media users are selective and cannot access all suspects. This is a violation of the rule of law over everyone.
Mansur emphasized that CDFJ rejects categorically hate speech or incitement of violence, pointing out that “what Jordan faces is the same as what the whole world faces, yet other countries have not resorted to enacting legislation, because they do not wish to threaten and restrict the freedom of knowledge, due to the difficulty of crystallizing agreement over a disciplined definition of the hate speech. More important is the fact that the increase in the hate crime is not treated by ratifying injunctions but rather with knowing the reasons and devising solutions for the