UNESCO Office establishes a Network for Lawyers defending Media Cases
As the United Nations agency with a specific mandate to promote “the free flow of ideas by word and image”, UNESCO works to foster free, independent and pluralistic media in print, broadcast and online. Media development in this mode enhances freedom of expression, and it contributes to peace, sustainability, poverty eradication and human rights. UNESCO today promotes policies for press freedom and the safety of journalists globally, and supports independent journalism based on professional ethics and self-regulatory principles. Based on this mandate, UNESCO implements through its numerous field offices different projects targeting specific groups depending on the needs and priorities of each country/region.
In Jordan, the UNESCO office in Amman works towards accomplishing the organization’s mandate in line with particular priorities related to the country’s needs and media environment, especially within the regulatory context. In the past couple of years, special emphasis has been paid to the latter aspect, particularly in light of the latest amendment to the Press and Publication Law, which demands registration of news websites or else risk closure. The amendment in question has recently resulted in the closure of 250 websites, and while UNESCO has tackled this issue through different channels and projects targeting media professionals and stakeholders, the need for a specific training of lawyers to familiarize them with international standards and national laws and regulations in order to better represent their clients in court was a must. As a result, a special 4-day workshop was held in Amman from 22 to 25 September with the participation of 15 lawyers interested in specializing in the area of media and freedom of expression. The long-term goal of this activity is to establish a network of lawyers specialized in defending journalists, bloggers and other media professional, in addition to citizen journalists and activists.
This activity comes under one of the main lines of action of the Communication and Information Sector at UNESCO; Promoting Freedom of Expression, Access to Information and Press Freedom in Jordan, and supported by SIDA.
Following the workshop, an Action Plan will be developed for best solutions and recommended actions to be taken in regards to freedom of expression in Jordan, with emphasis on internet freedom and news websites.
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