Wednesday, January 16, 2008
78 percent of Jordanians fear criticizing state - poll
"AMMAN: Anti-government critics in Jordan live in constant fear of state reprisals, an annual democracy survey showed Tuesday. A total of 78 percent of 1,133 people polled "said they could not criticize the government publicly without themselves or their families being subject to social or security punishment," according to the survey by the University of Jordan's Center of Strategic Studies. The figure was 74 percent in 2006, and under 70 percent in 1999. "Fear of talking publicly against the government and differing in opinion with it remain high," the report said. It showed that 82 percent could not take part in peaceful political activities for the same reasons, in comparison to just over 78 percent in 2006. Under Jordan's penal code, citizens may be prosecuted and jailed for slandering the king, members of the royal family, the government and the armed forces, or for "fueling national and regional discord and undermining national unity." In December, the New York-based Human Rights Watch issued a report accusing the government of using restrictive laws to sharply reduce the freedom of individuals and organizations to meet and demonstrate in public. - AFP"