Jordan steps up restrictions on political dissent, Human Rights Watch says

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AMMAN, September 18 (Reuters) – Over the past four years, Jordanian authorities have intensified the persecution and harassment of political opponents and ordinary citizens using a series of laws to silence critical voices, Human Rights Watch said. sunday.

Authorities used vague laws to detain, interrogate, and harass journalists, political activists, members of independent political parties and unions, and their family members, and restricted their access to basic rights to stifle dissent politics, the rights group said in a report.

“There is an urgent need to address the downward spiral of rights we are witnessing today in Jordan,” said Lama Fakih, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.

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“‘Maintaining stability’ can never be a justification for abusing people’s rights and closing the space that every society needs,” Fakih added.

An official source told Reuters the government was studying the report and would respond in detail.

The New York-based rights group said it investigated 30 cases between 2019 and 2022 in which authorities used overly broad criminal defamation provisions to arrest and charge citizens for peacefully expressing political views on social media platforms or at public gatherings.

The Jordanian government has also dissolved independently elected political parties and unions, HRW said.

Dozens of activists have been arrested in recent years for social media comments.

King Abdullah, a staunch US ally, had called on intelligence services to limit their activities to national security and counter-terrorism, in a rebuke to the agency’s pervasive influence in public life.

Politicians say the monarch faces challenges from a conservative establishment to push for broader economic and political reforms.

Jordanian rights activists have previously accused the government of using draconian powers under emergency laws enacted to curb COVID-19 as an excuse to limit civil and political rights.

The government recently said a political parties law recently enacted earlier this year lifted restrictions on peaceful opposition activism and was a step towards greater democratization.

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Reporting by Suleiman Al-Khalidi; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel and Daniel Wallis

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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